Susie Gross always says, “, “Shelter vocabulary, not grammar.” I need to be reminded of this constantly. The most common words, especially the verbs are amazingly common in frequency lists. One often cited source for word frequency is Mark Davies’ A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish. Another extremely valuable word frequency source is Wiktionary. The Wiktionary lists are compiled by analyzing the most common words from thousands of movie and television show subtitles and perhaps approximate spoken language in real life. The Wiktionary list is different than other such lists because it contains ALL forms of words, including the conjugated forms of verbs which sound very different to novices.
Here is a geeky and somewhat crude analysis of the verbs in the first 505 words on the Wiktionary list: http://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/VERBS-IN-THE-TOP-505-SPANISH-WORDS.pdf
The Wiktionary list is weighted heavily toward verbs. In the top 505 words there are 51 different verbs. Specific forms of the first 8 verbs alone account for 86 words on the list (17%); the first 20 verbs, 137 words (27%). In all, the various conjugations of verbs account for 173 of the total 505 top words (34%). The verbs appear in many different grammatical forms: present (92), infinitive (24), preterit (14), imperfect (8), present subjunctive (7), imperative,past subjunctive, etc.
General Wiktionary lists: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists
Spanish Wiktionary list: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists/Spanish1000
Works for me,