Spanish Present Tense

The Present Tense in Spanish - Learn and Practice with Exercises

Welcome to our grammar lesson about 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

This lesson will teach you everything about the Present Tense: how to conjugate verbs and how to use it, providing example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Conjugation of verbs in Present Tense

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 tell us anything about a verb being regular or irregular.

Every time we learn a new verb, we need to also learn whether it is regular or irregular.


Regular verbs

This is how we conjugate regular verbs:

  1. Remove the “-ar”, “-er,” “-ir” at the end of the Infinitive, leaving only the stem.
  2. Attach an ending to that stem. The endings are highlighted in the following table. They are different for verbs in “-ar”, “-er” and “-ir”:
 hablar

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 the same, except for the persons “nosotros” and “vosotros”.


Irregular verbs

There are many irregular verbs in Present Tense.

The good news is, the endings in the table above still apply for almost all irregular verbs.

We will divide irregular verbs into 4 types:

Type 1 – Verbs with a special “yo” form

For these verbs, the “yo” form has some irregularity, 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
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


Type 2 – Verbs with a change in the stem for all persons (except “nosotros” and “vosotros”)

The change can be one of the following:

e or i becomes ie

Examples:

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

Examples:

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

Examples:

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


Verbs ending in uir → the letter y appears

Examples:

construir

to build

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

to include

incluyo, incluyes, incluye, incluimos, incluís, incluyen


Type 3 – Verbs with a special “yo” form AND a change in the stem for the other persons (except “nosotros” and vosotros”)

This third type is a like mix of types 1 and 2.

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


Type 4 – 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.

Finally, “oler”. It follows the “o → ue” pattern, but also a letter “h” appears at the beginning for most of the 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 expressing what’s happening at the moment.

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 dances with a boy.


Things that will happen in the near future

There are other tenses for this, such as the Future Tense or the Future with “ir a” + infinitive.

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.


Ordering / Asking for

It is common in restaurants to order in the form of a question in Present Tense.

For example, to express “I’d have a beer, please”, we tend to say the equivalent of: “Do you put me a beer, please”?:

¿Me pone una cerveza, por favor?
I’d have a beer, please. (Do you put me a beer, please?)

¿Nos trae la carta, por favor?
Could you bring us the menu, please?

¿Me enseña ese reloj, por favor?
Could you show me that watch, please?


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.

Voy al museo si tengo tiempo.
I go to the museum if I have time.

Practice

Let’s now practice the Spanish Present Tense, with a Quiz and several Exercises!

Quiz


Exercise 1

We will begin our practice by conjugating regular verbs.

Conjugate the following verbs in Present Tense:

yo ___ 1.(nadar)
___ 2.(beber)
él ___ 3.(vivir)
nosotros ___ 4.(salir)
vosotros ___ 5.(entrar)
ellos ___ 6.(comprender)

Solutions:
1) nado
2) bebes
3) vive
4) salimos
5) entráis
6) comprenden


Exercise 2

Now let’s conjugate some irregular verbs in Present Tense:

yo ___ 1.(hacer)
___ 2.(tener)
él ___ 3.(poder)
nosotros ___ 4.(ser)
vosotros ___ 5.(ir)
ellos ___ 6.(influir)

Solutions:
1) hago
2) tienes
3) puede
4) somos
5) vais
6) influyen


Exercise 3

In this exercise, we state facts.

Fill the gaps in the following sentences, conjugating the verbs in brackets in Present Tense:

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

Los árboles ___ 2.(ser) altos.
Trees are tall.

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

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

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

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

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

Solutions:
1) está
2) son
3) hacen
4) es
5) tiene
6) vende
7) somos


Exercise 4

This exercise is about habitual actions and events.

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

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

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

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

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

La chica rubia ___ 5.(ir) al gimnasio y ___ 6.(hacer) ejercicio.
The blonde girl goes to the gym and exercises.

Los dos jóvenes ___ 7.(bailar) salsa.
The two young people dance salsa.

Solutions:
1) hacen
2) estudia
3) juega
4) trabaja
5) va
6) hace
7) bailan

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