Spanish expressions: “Servir para…”, “servir para que…”

servir para spanish 1

English speakers often use phrasal verbs to express their opinions during everyday conversations. They are so common that mastering how to use them is key to communicating fluently.

In Spanish, we also have our expressions and phrases you need to learn to make communication comfortable.

For example, the Spanish verb “servir” is one of the most versatile words because it has several meanings. And, its meaning will change depending on the sentence’s structure.

As a result, mastering how to use those structures is what will help you make a difference and enhance your speaking. “Servir para” is one of the most used Spanish structures.

Consequently, if you learn how to use it, expressing usability will no longer be a challenge. Sometimes, using “servir para” can be tricky since the words that go before and after may change depending on what you want to say.

If you seek to improve your Spanish, keep reading this explanation and learn how to use “servir para”

How to use “servir para”

“Servir” is a Spanish verb that could be translated to “to serve”. Nonetheless, when we use “servir” as “to serve” it generally refers to “serve food”. On the flip side, native speakers often use “servir” to indicate usability.

In other words, to say how something works or how it could be helpful. Expressing usability would be impossible without using the preposition “para”. So, every time you want to talk about how something works, using the structure “servir para” is mandatory.

We can conjugate the “servir para” using the present, past, or future tenses. However, depending on how we do it, the verb that follows the structure will change.

The Spanish verb “servir” is an irregular verb. For that reason, the root “serv-“ may change to “sirv-“ in some cases.

Let’s see the conjugation of “servir” in the present tense to get a better idea:

Verb conjugation
Servir To serve
Yo sirvo I serve
Tú sirves You serve
Él/Ella/Usted sirve He/She/It/You (formal) serves/serve
Nosotros servimos We serve
Vosotros servís You (plural) serve
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes sirven They/You (plural) serve

As you may notice, when we conjugate “servir” using “nosotros” the root “serv-“ doesn’t change. On the contrary, when we conjugate it using other personal pronouns like “yo”, “tú”, “él”, and “ella”, the verb’s root changes to “sirv-“.

In the future tense, most conjugations keep the root “serv-“.

Using the Spanish phrase servir para” is quite simple. You only need to follow the formula shown below:

Subject + “servir” (conjugated) + “para” + verb (infinitive) + complement.

The subject can be a noun, a personal pronoun, a tonic personal pronoun, or a proper name. It doesn’t matter if the subject is singular or plural, we can build both types of sentences with “servir para”.

Yet, you must remember that the plural form of “servir” would be “servimos” and “sirven”. The verb that follows the structure “servir para” must be in the infinitive form. Otherwise, we are making a mistake.

Let’s see a few examples below:

Los desinfectantes sirven para esterilizar superficies.

Disinfectants are used to sterilize surfaces.

Los anteojos sirven para ver mejor.

Glasses are used to see better.

Necesito comprar una laptop porque me sirve para trabajar.

I need to buy a laptop because it helps me to work.

Los datos recolectados pueden servir para otros propósitos importantes.

The collected data may serve other important purposes.

No sirve para nada.

It’s not helpful for anything.

No botes esos tornillos nos pueden servir para instalar otro estante.

Do not throw away those screws, they can be used to install another shelf

As you may notice, if we use the verb “poder” before the structure “servir para”, we don’t need to conjugate the verb “servir” as it works as an auxiliary verb.

If you want to build a negative sentence, adding the word “no” before “servir” is enough unless you use the verb “poder” in the same sentence. In that case, we must place “no” before “poder”.

How to use “servir para que”

Another common way to use the Spanish phrase “servir para” is together with the preposition “que”. In this case, the verb that follows “servir para que” isn’t in the infinitive form.

The structure “servir para que”  has the same purpose as “servir para”, it expresses usability. However, the preposition “que” helps us connect two sentences easily. Also, it helps us keep the main idea intact.

Let’s look at the following examples to understand this better:

No botes esos tornillos, nos pueden servir para que instalemos otro estante.

Aprender otro idioma sirve para que cambiemos nuestra manera de pensar.

Más que nunca, todo lo que hagas debe servir para que protejas Atlantis.

More than ever, everything you do must serve to protect Atlantis.

As you may see, the verb that follows the structure “servir para que” isn’t in the infinitive form and its conjugation will depend on what you are trying to say or highlight.

In the first sentence, the verb “instalar” is conjugated as “instalemos” because it emphasizes that the screws are helpful to us, for example.

How to make questions using “servir para”

Asking for something in Spanish is among the easiest things around the world. After all, what’s important is to add the question marks. If you want to make a question using “servir para”, you can use a regular sentence a just add the question marks.

Let’s see the example below.

¿No sirve para nada?

Is it useless?

Nevertheless, that’s not the only way to make a question using “servir para”. Another way to do it is by using the structure “servir para que”, but we need to make a few tweaks. Therefore, we usually start these questions with “¿Para qué sirve/ sirven…”.

Here are some examples:

¿Para qué sirvén los panales solares?

What are solar panels used for?

¿Para qué sirve un algoritmo?

What is an algorithm for?

Spanish expressions

Generally speaking, “servir para” is a Spanish phrase that will, undoubtedly, improve the way you speak. It will help you communicate easily, get the right information, and even sound like a native speaker.

Don’t waste time and master the use of “servir para” as soon as possible. We can guarantee that you won’t regret.

Keep in mind, that the structure “servir para que” is also common during daily conversation and it’s great to make questions.

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