The Spanish Present Tense (“Presente Simple”) is the first tense everybody learns in a Spanish course. It is used to state facts, say what is happening now or what happens regularly. Additionally, sometimes we use it in a colloquial way to speak about what will happen in the near future. Click here if you wish to learn more about the different uses of Present tense.
The purpose of this lesson is to explain the conjugation of verbs in Present Tense.
Knowing if a verb is Regular or Irregular in Present
There are 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 automatically tell you if it’s Regular or Irregular. Indeed, there are Regular and Irregular Verbs for all of the 3 endings. The student needs to learn for each specific verb whether it is Regular or Irregular. Sorry!
If a verb happens to be Regular, we need to conjugate it for each person adding the endings shown in this table:
Notice that the conjugation is different for Regular Verbs in “-ar”, “-er” and “-ir”.
There are many Verbs which are Irregular in the 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 types of Irregular Verbs and explain how they conjugate in Present, providing some examples.
We will divide the Irregular Verbs into 4 types:
- Verbs for which the 1st Person is “Special”, but the other Persons are Regular
- Verbs for which there is an irregularity in the stem for most of the persons
- Verbs for which the first person is “Special” AND there is also an irregularity for most of the other persons
- A few Very Irregular Verbs that don’t belong to the previous types
1 -Verbs for which the 1st Person is “Special”, but the other Persons are Regular
The conjugation of these verbs for the First Person has something that makes it different, but the rest follow the rules we saw for Regular Verbs. Here are some examples:
|Conducir||conduzco, conduces, conduce, conducimos, conducís, conducen|
|Conocer||conozco, conoces, conoce, conocemos, conocéis, conocen|
|Dar||doy, das, da, damos, dais, dan|
|Hacer||hago, haces, hace, hacemos, hacéis, hacen|
|Salir||salgo, sales, sale, salimos, salís, salen|
|Traer||traigo, traes, trae, traemos, traéis, traen|
|Ver||veo, ves, ve, vemos, veis, ven|
2 -Verbs for which there is an irregularity in the stem for most of the persons
The irregularity will be a slight transformation 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), that irregularity will NOT exist for two persons: “nosotros” (we) and “vosotros” (plural you).
Let’s divide this group into 3 sub-groups, depending on their stem transformation:
Stem transformation, where “e” (or less frequently “i”) becomes “ie”
|Adquirir||adquiero, adquieres, adquiere, adquirimos, adquirís, adquieren|
|Cerrar||cierro, cierras, cierra, cerramos, cerráis, cierran|
|Pensar||pienso, piensas, piensa, pensamos, pensáis, piensan|
|Querer||quiero, quieres, quiere, queremos, queréis, quieren|
Stem transformation, where “o” (or less frequently “u”) becomes “ue”
|Contar||cuento, cuentas, cuenta, contamos, contáis, cuentan|
|Jugar||juego, juegas, juega, jugamos, jugáis, juegan|
|Poder||puedo, puedes, puede, podemos, podéis, pueden|
|Soñar||sueño, sueñas, sueña, soñamos, soñáis, sueñan|
Stem transformation, where “e” becomes “i”
|Pedir||pido, pides, pide, pedimos, pedís, piden|
|Repetir||repito, repites, repite, repetimos, repetís, repiten|
|Servir||sirvo, sirves, sirve, servimos, servís, sirven|
3 – Verbs for which the first person is “Special” AND there is also an irregularity for most of the other persons
This third category is like a mix of the previous two: The first person is special, and most of the other persons present an irregularity of one of the kinds we just saw in point 2.
But once again that irregularity will NOT be present for two persons: “nosotros” (we) and “vosotros” (plural you).
|Decir||digo, dices, dice, decimos, decís, dicen|
|Tener||tengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos, tenéis, tienen|
|Venir||vengo, vienes, viene, venimos, venís, vienen|
4 – A few Very Irregular Verbs that don’t belong to the previous types
Here we 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.
|Estar||estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están|
|Ir||voy, vas, va, vamos, vais, van|
|Oler||huelo, hueles, huele, olemos, oléis, huelen|
|Ser||soy, 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.
IMPORTANT! This whole post was about the conjugation of verbs in Present Tense. But you also need to learn when to use it! For that, click here and learn the use of Present Tense.