Home Awesome Spanish Verb Conjugations: How to Master the 3 Most Important Verb Tenses

Spanish Verb Conjugations: How to Master the 3 Most Important Verb Tenses


Ah, Spanish verb conjugations.

For many Spanish learners, conjugations are one of the trickiest parts of the language to get used to.

Verb conjugation in Spanish often seems unpredictable, with few regulations to follow. That’s because Spanish has so many irregular verbs.

But if you think about it, so does English! Believe find/ detected, sell/ sold and ring/ rang, to name just a few.

And you already learned those patterns. So you can do it again with Spanish.

The good news is most other aspects of Spanish are much easier. You can learn regular Spanish verb conjugation patterns pretty fast. And once you know the basics, and some of the common irregular verbs, it’s easier to get a sense of how a verb should change.

In this article, I’ll focus on the three main Spanish verb tenses for regular verbs: present, past and future. Spanish Verb Tenses: The 3 Main Tense to Master The three main tenses you should learn first in Spanish are the present( el presente ), the past( also called the preterite, el preterito ), and the future( el futuro ). They’re the ones you’ll run into most. You can get a lot of things across from these tenses and still be understood in the beginning.

If you’re curious, there’s also the imperfect, perfect, conditional, subjunctive, imperative, and gerund forms, too. But you should go back to those afterward after you’ve mastered the main three tenses.

You do need to know the infinitive sort of Spanish verbs, too. This is the dictionary sort: the way the verb appears in the dictionary, unconjugated. In English, infinitives usually have the word “to” in front of them, such as “to eat”( up-and-comer in Spanish ). That’s the infinitive kind. You’ll need to know that because the infinitive kind defines how verbs get categorized. Spanish Verb Conjugation: The Basics First things first: there are three classes of Spanish verbs: -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs. These are the infinitive verb terminates( or dictionary sort of the verb ). I employed up-and-comer( “to eat”) as an example above: it’s an -er verb, because it’s infinitive sort ends in “er”. Assure how that works?

So to understand where to begin conjugating, you need to identify what kind of verb aiming it has in its infinitive sort, and what the stem of the verb is. In the case of comer, the stem is com-.

Each class of verbs utilizes a different conjugation pattern, and changes based on who the subject of the sentence is. So when learning Spanish word conjugation, you’ll have to learn how each one changes in each tense. It’s not as bad as it sounds!

So, let’s review the basic pronouns:

I: yo

You: tu( informal)

You: usted( formal)

He: el

She: ella

We: nosotros( all men, or men and women ); nosotras( all women)

You( plural, informal ): vosotros( male ); vosotras( female)

You( plural, formal ): ustedes

Them: ellos( male ); ellas( female)

A couple notes here: vosotros/ vosotras( “you”) is only used in Castilian Spanish, spoken in the country of Spain. Latin American Spanish utilizes ustedes as both the formal and informal plural “you”. The other thing is usted and ustedes conjugate in the same way as el, ella, ellos, and ellas. One less pattern you have to learn!

Now let’s look at how to conjugate the three verb class in the three main tenses based on the pronoun. We’ll start with the easiest form: simple present tense. Maintain in intellect, this is for regular verbs, and there are many that won’t fall into this standard pattern … but plenty that will work this way. Spanish Present Tense Conjugation: El Presente Let’s take a look at how a verb in each category conjugations in the Spanish present tense with different pronouns. Spanish Present Tense -ar Verbs Look at how the -ar verb hablar( “to speak”) changes kinds:

Hablar: To Speak

Verb stem: habl-

Pronoun Infinitive+ Conjugation Future Tense yo hablar+ e hablare tu hablar+ as hablaras el, ella, usted hablar+ a hablara nosotros/ nosotras hablar+ emos hablaremos vosotros/ vosotras hablar+ eis hablareis ellos, ellas, ustedes hablar+ an hablaran Do you see a bit of a pattern here? Even though the verb stem is habl-, and falls both the a and the r, because it’s a -ar verb all the conjugations except with yo keep the a. It becomes hablas, habla, hablamos … So you’ll remember which class of verb it is. And with all three types of verbs, the yo conjugation is the verb stem+ o.

Once you know the -ar verb sorts, the other two become easier. Spanish Present Tense -er Verbs

Beber: To Drink

Verb stem: beb-

Pronoun Infinitive+ Conjugation Future Tense yo beber+ e bebere tu beber+ as beberas el, ella, usted beber+ a bebera nosotros/ nosotras beber+ emos beberemos vosotros/ vosotras beber+ eis bebereis ellos, ellas, ustedes beber+ an beberan This -er verb, beber( “to drink” ), bides fairly consistent. Since it’s a -er verb, it keeps the “e” in all but the yo conjugation – just like -ar verbs. Now this doesn’t seem so bad, right? Once you recollect things like “-s” is for you, and -mos is for we, and so forth … It becomes much easier to remember members of the general conjugation because you keep the a and the e for the verbs. Spanish Present Tense -ir Verbs Now, this is where that changes a bit.

Vivir: To Live

Verb stem: viv-

Pronoun Infinitive+ Conjugation Future Tense yo vivir+ e vivire tu vivir+ as viviras el, ella, usted vivir+ a vivira nosotros/ nosotras vivir+ emos viviremos vosotros/ vosotras vivir+ eis vivireis ellos, ellas, ustedes vivir+ an viviran The verbs ending in -ir keep the exact same conjugation as -er verbs for half the pronouns, opting to use e instead of i … But change to i when it’s “we” or “you”( plural ), and maintain o for “I” pronouns.

Did you pick up the specific characteristics? The easiest part of present tense is when talking about yourself, the conjugation is always the same for first person , no matter which type of verb aiming you’re using. And -ir verbs can be easy if you recollect merely the nosotros and vosotros forms differ from -er verbs. Since they’re spelt almost the same, I think of them as a division for -ir verbs.

When first learning the conjugation patterns, it’s easiest to “stack” them, beginning with the -ar verbs. If you learn the basics of those, then you can see the patterns emerge in -er verbs, and -ir verbs are almost identical. Spanish Past Tense Conjugation: El Preterito Here’s the good news: In past tense conjugation, -er and -ir verbs use all the same kinds! And you are able to keep abreast with the “stacking” method of memorizing here. The “we” form of the verbs stay almost the same, and there are patterns that emerge here, too. Past Tense -ar Verbs [Spanish Verb Conjugation Chart, Past Tense: Hablar]

Pay attention to those accent marks. Hablo is “I speak”, but hablo is “he/ she/ you spoke”. Most of these seem a little like their present tense sorts, but with more added. Hablas added -te and became hablaste, for example. Hablan becomes hablaron, still the kind ending in “n” but with an extra “ro” in the middle. And hablamos is the same! Past Tense -er and -ir Verbs [Spanish Verb Conjugation Chart, Past Tense: Beber and Vivir]

As I said before, both sets of verbs conjugated the same in past tense. One thing to note: while the “we” form of the verb is the same as present tense for -ar and -ir verbs, they change somewhat with -er verbs. In present tense nosotros kind, beber became bebemos. In past tense, it’s bebimos. One tiny thing to remember. Spanish Future Tense Conjugation: El Futuro Everything get easier as we go! When using future tense, you have only one conjugation pattern. That’s right – all three verbs will use the same ends to form future tense.

The change with this form is that you keep the -ar, -er, and -ir endings. So the verb stays in its infinitive sort, and then you add the conjugation.

[ Spanish Verb Conjugation Chart, Future Tense: Hablar, Beber and Vivir]

That builds this form much easier to memorize. One thing you’ll notice when hearing this form used in Spanish? The speakers use future tense for the more distant future. In English, the immediate future is still carried with future tense, but that’s absolutely no truth to the rumors here. In Spanish, there’s a different verb tense for the near future, but you can use present tense, too. So, just know that you won’t use this tense as much as you do in English. The Most Common Irregular Verbs Some of the most commonly used verbs also happen to be irregular verbs in Spanish. That’s what constructs verb conjugation seem so difficult. But there are patterns with irregular verbs, too, and you’ll have lots of practice with these verbs to get used to the conjugation. So don’t get discouraged! For now, I wanted to point out a few verbs that may throw you a curveball:

To be( permanent ): ser

To be( impermanent ): estar

To have: tener

To run: ir

To suppose: pensar

To do/ to build: hacer

To watch: ver

To meet: encontrar

To know: saber

Can do: poder

Those are probably the top 10 most common and most used irregular verbs. Now that you recognize them, learn how to conjugate and place the patterns in irregular verbs. Go Forth and Practice That’s it! You’ve learned your three main tenses in Spanish. That wasn’t too bad, right? If your brain is feeling like it might explode, rest assured: they get easier with practise. You’ll recognize and remember the patterns the more you speak and write them, as well as listening to them spoken. So make sure you’re practising all four of the basic language abilities.

What tips-off do you have for learning Spanish verb tenses? Leave a comment and let’s hear them!

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