The Spanish Simple Present Tense (“Presente Simple”) is the first tense you will learn in any Spanish course. We use the Simple Present to state how things are at the moment (facts), 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.
The purpose of this post is to explain the conjugation of verbs in Simple Presente: First we will learn the conjugation of Regular Verbs, and then the Irregulars.
As you may know, we have 3 types of Verbs in Spanish, looking at 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. For that reason, you need to learn for each specific verb whether it is regular or not. Sorry!
If a verb happens to be Regular, you need to conjugate for each person adding the endings shown in this table:
Notice that the conjugation is different for Regular Verbs in “-ar”, “-er” and “-ir”. You need to learn those 3 Regular conjugations before you move on to the Irregulars.
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 types of Irregular Verbs and explain how they conjugate in Simple 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 Simple Present Tense. But you also need to learn when to use it! For that, click here and learn the use of Simple Present Tense.