Spanish Present Tense – Conjugation

The Spanish Simple Present Tense (“Presente Simple”) is the first tense you will learn in any Spanish course. We can use it to communicate how things are at the moment (facts), what is happening now or what happens regularly. Additionally, sometimes we may also use it to speak about what will happen in the near future.

The purpose of this post is to help you learn to conjugate verbs in Presente Simple. First of all we will learn how to conjugate the Regular Verbs, and then we will do the same with the Irregulars. 

Ready? Go! 

Regular Verbs

As you may know, we have 3 types of Verbs in Spanish, depending on their ending in Infinitive:

  • Verbs ending in “-ar”, such as “hablar“.
  • Verbs ending in “-er”, such as “comer“.
  • Verbs ending in “-ir”, such as “vivir“.

Unfortunately, knowing the ending of a Verb doesn’t tell you automatically if it’s Regular or Irregular, because there are Regular and Irregular Verbs for all of the 3 endings. Because of that, you need to learn for each specific verb whether it is regular or not. Sorry!

Anyway, IF a verb happens to be Regular, you need to conjugate each person following the endings showed in this table:

 HablarBeberPartir
yohablobeboparto
hablasbebespartes
élhablabebeparte
nosotroshablamosbebemospartimos
vosotroshabláisbebéispartís
elloshablanbebenparten

Notice that the conjugation is different for verbs in “-ar”. verbs in “-er” and verbs in “-ir”. You need to learn to conjugate the 3 kinds or Regular Verbs before you move on to the Irregulars.



Irregular Verbs

There are many Verbs which are Irregular in the Simple Present tense. We will not see all of them here (you can find long lists on many websites). What we will do is see the main categories of Irregular Verbs, explain how the work and and mention a couple of examples for each kind. 

We will divide the Irregular Verbs into 4 categories:

  1. Verbs for which the 1st Person is “Special”, but the others are Regular.

  2. Verbs for which there is an irregularity in the stem for most of the persons.

  3. Verbs for which the first person is“special” AND there is an irregularity for most of the other persons.

  4. A few Very Irregular Verbs that don’t follow those patterns exactly. 

1 – Verbs for which the 1st Person is “special”, but the others are regular.

The first person includes something that makes it different, but the rest follow the rules we saw for Regular Verbs. Here are some examples:

Conducirconduzco, conduces, conduce, conducimos, conducís, conducen
Conocerconozco, conoces, conoce, conocemos, conocéis, conocen
Dardoy, das, da, damos, dais, dan
Hacerhago, haces, hace, hacemos, hacéis, hacen
Salirsalgo, sales, sale, salimos, salís, salen
Traertraigo, traes, trae, traemos, traéis, traen
Verveo, ves, ve, vemos, veis, ven

2 – Verbs for which there is an irregularity for most of the persons.

The irregularity will be in the stem, not in the ending, and it will consist on some vocalic change: either a letter “e” will become “ie”, a letter “o” will become “ue”…

BUT (and this is very important), the irregularity will NOT be present for two persons: “nosotros” (we) and “vosotros” (plural you). 

Let’s see the sub-categories with some examples for each:

Stem transformation, where “e” (or rarely “i”) becomes “ie”   

Examples:

Adquiriradquiero, adquieres, adquiere, adquirimos, adquirís, adquieren
Cerrarcierro, cierras, cierra, cerramos, cerráis, cierran
Pensarpienso, piensas, piensa, pensamos, pensáis, piensan
Quererquiero, quieres, quiere, queremos, queréis, quieren

Stem transformation, where “o” (or rarely “u”) becomes “ue”   

Examples:

Contarcuento, cuentas, cuenta, contamos, contáis, cuentan
Jugarjuego, juegas, juega, jugamos, jugáis, juegan
Poderpuedo, puedes, puede, podemos, podéis, pueden
Soñarsueño, sueñas, sueña, soñamos, soñáis, sueñan

Stem transformation, where “e” becomes “i”   

Examples:

Pedirpido, pides, pide, pedimos, pedís, piden
Repetirrepito, repites, repite, repetimos, repetís, repiten
Servirsirvo, sirves, sirve, servimos, servís, sirven

3 – Verbs for which the first person is Special AND there is also an irregularity which is present in most of the other persons.

This third category is like a combination of the previous two: The first person is special, and the rest of the persons presents an irregularity of the kind we just saw in point 2.

But once again the irregularity will NOT be present for two persons: “nosotros” (we) and “vosotros” (plural you). 

Some examples:

Decirdigo, dices, dice, decimos, decís, dicen
Tenertengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos, tenéis, tienen
Venirvengo, vienes, viene, venimos, venís, vienen

4 – A few very irregular verbs that don’t follow typical patterns

Here we will include the very important verbs “ser” and “ir”, which are very irregular.

Also, the verb “estar”, for which the first person is Special, and although the other persons follow the regular pattern, there are more graphical accents than usual. That is a unique characteristic of the verb “estar”, as most verbs have a graphical accent only for the person “vosotros”. 

Finally, we will include here the verb “oler” (to smell). It follows the irregular “o ue” model, but most of the persons add also an “h” at the beginning.

Estarestoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están
Irvoy, vas, va, vamos, vais, van
Olerhuelo, hueles, huele, olemos, oléis, huelen
Sersoy, eres, es, somos, sois, son

 

**** Reminder about the persons “nosotros” and “vosotros”

Except for very very irregular verbs (“ser”, “ir”), whatever irregularity the verb presents DOESN’T affect the persons “nosotros” and “vosotros”. You can take a moment now to look at all the tables and notice it again.

Once you feel you have mastered the Simple Present Tense conjugation, you can click here and learn how to use it properly. 

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