Spanish Present Tense – Learn and Practice

Welcome 😊 to our grammar lesson on the Spanish Present Tense («Presente de Indicativo»).

We use the Present Tense to state facts, and also to talk about habitual actions and events.

A couple of sentences in Spanish Present Tense
A couple of sentences in Present Tense

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to conjugate verbs in the present tense and use them in sentences.

You will also find a Quiz and Exercises to practice.

About regular and irregular verbs

There are 3 types of verbs in Spanish, looking at their ending:

  • Verbs in «-ar», such as «hablar».
  • Verbs in «-er», such as «comer».
  • Verbs in «-ir», such as «vivir».

Unfortunately, the ending doesn’t say anything about a verb being regular or irregular. Every time we learn a new verb, we also need to learn if that specific verb is regular or irregular.

Conjugation of regular verbs

This is how we conjugate regular verbs:

  1. Remove the «-ar / -er / -ir», leaving only the stem.
  2. Add an ending to that stem. The endings are different for verbs in «-ar», «-er» and «-ir». They are highlighted in green in the following table:
Personhablar

to speak

beber

to drink

partir

to depart

yohablobeboparto
hablasbebespartes
él, ella, ustedhablabebeparte
nosotros, nosotrashablamosbebemospartimos
vosotros, vosotrashabláisbebéispartís
ellos, ellas, ustedeshablanbebenparten

Notice that… the endings for verbs in «-er» and «-ir» are different only for «nosotros» and «vosotros».

Conjugation of irregular verbs

The endings in the table above still apply for most irregular verbs.

With that in mind, we divide irregular verbs into 4 types:

Verbs with a special «yo» form

The «yo» form is irregular, but the other persons are completely regular.

Examples:

conducir

to drive

conduzco, conduces, conduce, conducimos, conducís, conducen
conocer

to know

conozco, conoces, conoce, conocemos, conocéis, conocen
dar

to give

doy, das, da, damos, dais, dan (no accent mark on "dais")
hacer

to do

hago, haces, hace, hacemos, hacéis, hacen
salir

to go out

salgo, sales, sale, salimos, salís, salen
traer

to bring

traigo, traes, trae, traemos, traéis, traen
ver

to see

veo, ves, ve, vemos, veis, ven (no accent mark on "veis")


Verbs with a stem change for all persons (except «nosotros» and «vosotros»)

The change can be one of the following:

  • e or i becomes ie:
cerrar

to close

cierro, cierras, cierra, cerramos, cerráis, cierran
pensar

to think

pienso, piensas, piensa, pensamos, pensáis, piensan
querer

to want

quiero, quieres, quiere, queremos, queréis, quieren
adquirir

to acquire

adquiero, adquieres, adquiere, adquirimos, adquirís, adquieren

  • o or u becomes ue:
contar

to tell

cuento, cuentas, cuenta, contamos, contáis, cuentan
poder

can

puedo, puedes, puede, podemos, podéis, pueden
soñar

to dream

sueño, sueñas, sueña, soñamos, soñáis, sueñan
jugar

to play

juego, juegas, juega, jugamos, jugáis, juegan

  • e becomes i:
pedir

to request

pido, pides, pide, pedimos, pedís, piden
repetir

to repeat

repito, repites, repite, repetimos, repetís, repiten
servir

to serve

sirvo, sirves, sirve, servimos, servís, sirven

  • the letter y appears (for all verbs ending in -uir):
construir

to build

construyo, construyes, construye, construimos, construís, construyen
incluir

to include

incluyo, incluyes, incluye, incluimos, incluís, incluyen


Verbs with a special «yo» form AND a stem change for the other persons (except «nosotros» and vosotros»)

This third type is a like a mix of the previous types.

Examples:

decir

to say

digo, dices, dice, decimos, decís, dicen
tener

to have

tengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos, tenéis, tienen
venir

to come

vengo, vienes, viene, venimos, venís, vienen


A few very irregular verbs 

Here we include «ser» and «ir», which don’t belong to any of the previous types. 

Also «estar», a peculiar verb because it has many accent marks in present tense.

Finally, «oler». It follows the «o → ue» pattern, but also a letter «h» appears for most persons.

ser

to be

soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son
estar

to be

estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están
ir

to go

voy, vas, va, vamos, vais, van
oler

to smell

huelo, hueles, huele, olemos, oléis, huelen

Uses of the Present Tense

Stating facts

We use the Present Tense to state all kinds of facts: facts of life, nature, people, culture…:

La Tierra gira alrededor del Sol.
The Earth rotates around the Sun.

Los argentinos hablan español.
Argentinians speak Spanish.

Los pájaros vuelan.
Birds fly.

Laura es profesora.
Laura is a teacher.

La mesa está en el salón.
The table is in the living room.


Habitual actions or events

We use the Present Tense to talk about things that happen usually, habitually…:

Yo juego al fútbol dos veces por semana.
I play soccer twice a week.

Mis amigos trabajan en una oficina.
My friends work in an office.

Nosotros viajamos a México todos los veranos.
We travel to Mexico every summer.


Things happening at the moment

There is another tense called Present Progressive that is generally better for this.

But we can also use the Present Tense:

¿Qué haces?
What are you doing?

Lavo los platos.
I
’m washing the dishes.

¿Qué hace Ana?
What is Ana doing?

Ella baila con un chico.
She’s dancing with a boy.


Things that will happen in the near future

There are other tenses for this, such as the Future Tense.

But sometimes we use the Present, specially if the action takes place in the near future: 

Mañana como en casa de mi abuela.
Tomorrow I eat at my grandmother’s house.

Nosotros empezamos un curso de español el mes que viene.
We start a Spanish course next month.


Conditional statements («if X happens…»)

We can express a condition in Present Tense, introduced by si (if).

Si quieres, podemos jugar al tenis.
If you want, we can play tennis.

Siempre voy al museo si tengo tiempo.
I always go to the museum if I have time.

Practice

Quiz


Exercise 1

We will begin our practice with some regular verbs.

Conjugate the following verbs in Present Tense. Click on the gray spaces to see the solutions:

1) yo nado (nadar)
2) tú bebes (beber)
3) él vive (vivir)
4) nosotros salimos (salir)
5) vosotros entráis (entrar)
6) ellos comprenden (comprender)

Exercise 2

Now let’s conjugate some irregular verbs:

1) yo hago (hacer)
2) tú tienes (tener)
3) él puede (poder)
4) nosotros somos (ser)
5) vosotros vais (ir)
6) ellos influyen (influir)

Exercise 3

The following sentences state facts.

Fill the gaps conjugating the verbs in brackets in Present Tense:

1) El Cairo está en Egipto. (estar)
Cairo is in Egypt.

2) Los árboles son altos. (ser)
The trees are tall.

3) Las plantas hacen la fotosíntesis. (hacer)
Plants do photosynthesis.

4) La velocidad de la luz es de 300 000 kilómetros por segundo. (ser)
The speed of light is 300,000 kilometers per second.

5) España tiene 45 millones de habitantes. (tener)
Spain has 45 million inhabitants.

6) La tienda vende ropa barata. (vender)
The store sells cheap clothes.

7) Nosotros somos personas. (ser)
We are people.

Exercise 4

The following sentences express habitual actions and events.

Fill the gaps conjugating the verbs in brackets in Present Tense:

1) ¿Qué hacen estas personas los viernes? (hacer)
What do these people do on Fridays?

2) El niño estudia para los exámenes de la escuela. (estudiar)
The boy studies for school exams.

3) El joven juega al tenis con un amigo. (jugar)
The young man plays tennis with a friend.

4) La mujer trabaja en una oficina. (trabajar)
The woman works in an office.

5) La chica va al gimnasio y hace ejercicio. (ir, hacer)
The girl goes to the gym and works out.

6) Los jóvenes bailan salsa. (bailar)
The young people dance salsa.