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Spanish Verbs

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 Spanish Verbs

Spanish verbs are easier than those in many languages. The rules you follow to conjugate Spanish verbs are relatively simple, and there are fewer irregular verbs than in English. The irregular ones will be covered in another lesson. For now, we start with the basic rules.

The Infinitive Form

Vamos a empezar. (Let's get started). The infinitive is the "base form" of the verb, before the verb is conjugated. For example: to speak, to eat, to live are English verbs in the infinitive form; to + verb creates the infinitive of a verb in English. In Spanish the infinitives of verbs have three diferent endings: ar, er and ir.


hablar (to speak)
comer (to eat)
vivir (to live)

There are three groups of verbs in Spanish. The first group of verbs end in "ar". A second group ends in "er". The third group tends in "ir". Many of the most frequently used verbs belong to the first group. Whether a verb is regular or irregular, it always has to belong to one of these groups.

The Present Tense

Spanish verbs function in a different way from English verbs. In English, subject pronouns such as I, you, he, etc., express who is doing the action (I clean the car). In Spanish, the ending of the verb indicates who is acting. Therefore subject pronouns (yo, tú, él, ella, usted, nosotros, nosotras, ellos, ellas and ustedes) are relatively unimportant. You can use them with the verb or not. Let's see how this works:

How to form the present tense of regular verbs in spanish...

It's all in the endings. To conjugate a Spanish verb (a regualr one) of the first group - an "ar" verb - we need to use the following endings: o, as, a, amos, an. What we do is take away the "ar" ending of the infinitive and add the new endings as is appropriate.


bailar (to dance)
yo bailo (I dance)
tú bailas (You dance)
él,ella,usted baila (He, She dances, You {formal} dance)
nosotros, nosotras bailamos (We dance)
ellos,ellas, ustedes bailan (They dance)

Notice that the conjugations used with él, ella, and usted are always the same. The same is true with nosotros and nosotras, and the same with ellos, ellas, ustedes.

Let's look at some of the most common regular "ar" verbs:

bailar = to dance
buscar = to look for
cambiar = to change
cantar = to sing
cenar = to dine
cocinar = to cook
comprar = to buy
descansar= to rest
enseñar= to teach
esperar = to wait for
estudiar = to study
fumar = to smoke
hablar = to speak
invitar = to invite
lavar = to wash
llamar = to call
llevar = to carry, to wear
mandar = to send
mirar = to look at
nadar =to swim
pagar = to pay for
preparar = to prepare
tomar = to take
trabajar = to work
viajar = to travel

Now, for the regular "er" verbs, the endings are: o, es, e, emos, en. So we do the same. We take away the "er" ending from the infinitive and add the new endings.


aprender (to learn)

Notice that I did not include the subject pronouns this time, so you can get used to the idea that you don't need them. The ending tells you who is acting. In the case of "Aprende español," for example, you would be able to tell from the context if it meant "He (el) learns Spanish," "She (ella) learns Spanish, or "You (usted) learn Spanish." It could also be written as "El aprende español," or "ella español," etc. Subject pronouns are commonly left out, but they can be used for clarification.

Some of the more common regular "er" verbs:

aprender = to learn
beber = to drink
comer = to eat
comprender = to understand
correr = to run
creer = to believe
leer = to read
vender = to sell
ver = to see

To conjugate Spanish verbs (regular) ending in "ir", we used these endings: o, es, e, imos, en.


abrir (to open)

Some of the more common regular "ir" verbs:

abrir = to open
admitir = to admit
asistir = to assist or attend
compartir = to share
discutir = to discuss
escribir = to write
recibir = to receive
subir = to climb or go up
sufrir = to suffer
vivir = to live

Spanish, like English, has regular and irregular verbs. However, if a verb is regular in the present it does not necessarily mean that it is going to be regular in the past tense or the future tense. Just something to keep in mind. We will have more on how to conjugate Spanish verbs - including the irregular ones - in future lessons.

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