Super Seven Verbs

Updated December 25, 2017

The concept of the Super Seven Verbs came from Terry Waltz on the MoreTPRS listserv in the summer of 2013. The idea is that by focusing instruction on comprehensible repetitions of these high-frequency verbs, beginning students will be able to use circumlocution to express a wide range of ideas. While the actual list of Super Seven Verbs varies depending on the language (in most languages, there is only a Super Six!), the underlying concepts remain the same. They are:

  1. Location (to be at a place)
  2. Existence (to exist somewhere / there is)
  3. Possession (to have something)
  4. Identity (to be something or someone)
  5. Preference (to like or dislike something)
  6. Motion (to go somewhere)
  7. Volition (to want to or feel like doing something)

Using the Super Seven Verbs

As Mike Peto said, “High-frequency word lists are not intended to be given directly to students as vocabulary lists, but rather to aid curriculum designers in prioritizing vocabulary.” For a detailed account of how to use the Super Seven Verbs (and later, the Sweet Sixteen) in the classroom, I recommend that you read this very good article by Mike Peto.

I love the ‘Super Seven’ and what it represents to the goal of mastery teaching. Every year, my goal is for the students to be able to achieve levels of proficiency using [them] in the past and present tenses. They meet this standard and I would argue go beyond these 7 high frequency grammatical concepts 1.

Super Seven Verbs in Other Languages

Do you teach a language that is not listed below (Japanese, Arabic, Italian, Russian, etc.)? Please share the Super Seven Verbs in your language in the comments below so that other teachers (and learners of the language) can benefit! While the verbs below are listed in the present tense, third-person singular (at least for the languages with conjugation), I would like to emphasize that the Super Seven Verbs should be gradually introduced in all of their most common forms. So, for example, Level 1 students might read a story using the verbs in the past tense(s). Even though the past is traditionally left for Level 2, the grammar is easily handled if you simply tell students, for example, that quiere means wants and quería means wanted. You can read more about this technique, which is called pop-up grammar, in this post. However, it’s also fine if you’d prefer to stick to the present tense when you introduce the Super Seven, if that’s what you’re more comfortable with in the scope of your curriculum. The important thing is that you’re intentional about using these high-frequency verbs.

Spanish

  1. está (is at a place / is feeling)
  2. hay (there is / there are)
  3. tiene (has)
  4. es (is)
  5. le gusta (likes / is pleasing to)
  6. va (goes / is going)
  7. quiere (wants)

German

  1. es gibt (there is / there are)
  2. hat (has)
  3. ist (is)
  4. mag (likes) 2
  5. geht (goes / is going)
  6. will (wants)

Latin 3

  1. est (there is / is) 
  2. habet (has)
  3. mihi placet (likes)
  4. it (goes)
  5. vult (wants)

French 4

  1. il y a (there is / there are)
  2. a (has)
  3. est (is)
  4. aime (likes)
  5. va (goes / is going)
  6. veut (wants)

Chinese 5

  1.  (is at a place)
  2. 有/没有 (there is / there are / has) 6
  3. (is)
  4. 喜欢 (likes)
  5. (goes)
  6. (wants) 7

Super Seven Posters

All language teachers should consider hanging the Super Seven Verbs in their classroom. While you can easily make your own posters, Teacher’s Discovery also sells Super 7 posters for Spanish in the 3rd person and 1st person singular. Instead of or in addition to hanging posters, you could also use handouts for students to refer to. Crystal Barragan and Spanish Mama have handouts in Spanish on TPT.

Beyond the Super Seven 8

After the students know the Super Seven Verbs, what should you teach? Mike Peto suggested the Sweet Sixteen Verbs for Spanish, which include the Super Seven and also the following:

Spanish

  1. sale de (leaves)
  2. hace (makes / does)
  3. se pone (becomes + emotion)
  4. puede (can)
  5. le da (gives him / her)
  6. le dice (says to him / her)
  7. sabe (knows)
  8. vuelve (returns)
  9. ve (sees)

English

  1. leaves
  2. does
  3. becomes
  4. can
  5. gives him / her
  6. says to him / her
  7. knows
  8. returns
  9. sees

On Teacher’s Discovery you can purchase Sweet Sixteen posters for the infinitives, the third-person present, or a complete set with the past tenses as well.

In Latin, Miriam Patrick created the Awesome Octō (term by Lance Piantaggini) which adds dīcere, dēbēre, and putāre (to say, must / should, and to think).

References

  1. Mike Coxon, C.A.S.E. and the SUPER 7 (2014).
  2. In German there is no simple translation for “to like.” You’ll have to choose between mögen, gefallen, and the gern construction. If you’re unsure of the differences, read this article. Personally, I think that gefallen could wait a bit, but to keep the language natural-sounding, I would certainly use mögen with nouns and gern with actions.
  3. The Latin esse covers Location, Existence, and Identity, so its basic set of Super verbs is what Lance Piantaggini calls the Quaint Quīntum (esse, habēre, placēre, īre, velle).
  4. Cecile Laine, Recycling structures and the Super Seven (2016).
  5. Haiyun Lu, Super Seven (2013).
  6. Chinese only has a “Super Six” because 有/没有 is used to indicate existence as well as possession.
  7. Terry Waltz recommends using 想 to start with.
  8. Mike Peto, The Advantages of Posting High Frequency Verbs (2015).

Leave a Reply