Spanish Verb Conjugation: Regular and Irregular Verbs

Here's everything you need to know about Spanish verbs: from regular to irregular Spanish verbs, rules, conjugations and - most importantly - examples!

Spanish Verb Conjugation: Regular and Irregular Verbs

¡Hola, Spanish language aficionado! Welcome to another essential Spanish lesson you’ll have to learn if you want to boost your Spanish conversation skills. Today, we are talking about Spanish verbs, their conjugations, and some Spanish grammar rules that will naturally join the party. Are you ready? Let’s start with the basics.

Spanish verbs: rules for regular Spanish verbs

Every language has its rules and Spanish makes no exception (wink). There’s nothing scary about a little grammar once in a while. The same as in English, the Spanish language has regular verbs that follow certain rules and irregular verbs that usually go wild and need to be learned by heart. Today, we are studying a few eloquent examples from both sides.

Now, here are a few rules you need to know about the Spanish regular verbs.

1. There are three types of Spanish regular verbs. You’ll easily recognize them by their endings: -ar, -er or –ir. Think bromear, comer, and escribir.
2. Verbs ending in -er and -ir share almost the same conjugations. In other words, only two categories of verb endings will need your attention.
3. For verbs ending in -ar, the following endings are added to the verb stem after removing the infinitive ending:

  • Yo bromeo
  • Tú bromeas
  • Él / Ella / Usted bromea
  • Nosotros /Nosotras bromeamos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras bromeáis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes bromean

4. For verbs ending in -er or -ir, the following endings are added to the verb stem after removing the infinitive ending:

  • Yo como
  • Tú comes
  • Él / Ella / Usted come
  • Nosotros / Nosotras comemos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras coméis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes comen
  • Yo escribo
  • Tú escribes
  • Él / Ella / Usted escribe
  • Nosotros / Nosotras escribimos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras escribís
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes escriben

N.B.: The only conjugation differences between verbs ending in -er and -ir are in the nosotros / nosotras and vosotros / vosotras forms. Let’s explain that a little bit:
nosotros / nosotras: if the verb ends in -er, the ending will be –emos, and if the verb ends in –ir, the ending will be –imos (nosotros/as comemos vs nosotros/as escribimos).
vosotros/ vosotras: if the verb ends in -er, the ending will be –éis, and if the verb ends in –ir, the ending will be –ís (vosotros/as coméis vs vosotros/as escribís).

Spanish verbs conjugations make sense now, don’t they?

If you want to go even further and achieve Spanish fluency, Mondly can help you learn Spanish fast in 5 minutes a day with compact and very entertaining lessons. And don’t worry about the conjugations! In Mondly, you can quickly see a verb’s conjugation by simply tapping on it.

Mondly app screenshot verb conjugation
In Mondly, you can quickly see a verb’s conjugation by simply tapping on it

Before moving on to irregular Spanish verbs and more examples, let’s also explore the past and future of regular Spanish verbs. What do you think? Wouldn’t that be useful?

Spanish Preterite Tense – Regular Preterite Verb Endings

The Spanish preterite tense or el pretérito is the equivalent of the simple past tense in English. Naturally, the same as the simple past tense, the Spanish preterite tense is used to describe actions completed at some point in the past.

Now that you know how regular verb endings work in Spanish, let’s just concentrate on endings alone. So, what endings do we use for the Spanish preterite tense? Let’s see:

PronounVerbs ending in -arVerbs ending in -er or -ir
Él / Ella / Usted-ió
Nosotros / Nosotras-amos-imos
Vosotros / Vosotras-asteis-isteis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-aron-ieron
Thus, the conjugation of bromear will become:

  • Yo bromeé
  • Tú bromeaste
  • Él / Ella / Usted bromeó
  • Nosotros /Nosotras bromeamos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras bromeasteis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes bromearon

And the conjugation of comer will look like this:

  • Yo comí
  • Tú comiste
  • Él / Ella / Usted com
  • Nosotros /Nosotras comimos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras comisteis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes comieron

Keep in mind the fact that the first person singular (yo), third person singular (él, ella), and second person formal singular (usted) forms use tildes on the final letters of the verb endings. And one little tilde can make all the difference in the world! If you don’t know yet how accents work, take a look at our article on Spanish accents and how to master them all.

Spanish Simple Future Tense – Regular Simple Future Verb Endings

In Spanish, there are two ways to form the future tense: the informal future tense (the verb ir + a + infinitive -> voy a comer) and the simple future tense, which we will illustrate in this article.

N.B.: Amazing news for this one! It’s extremely easy. In order to form the simple future tense, we will add the verb ending to the infinitive form of the verb. All three types of regular verbs (-ar, -er, -ir) have the same endings in the simple future tense.

Él / Ella / Usted-ás
Nosotros / Nosotras-emos
Vosotros / Vosotras-éis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-án

Thus, the conjugation of the verb escribir will become:

  • Yo escribiré
  • Tú escribirás
  • Él / Ella / Usted escribirá
  • Nosotros /Nosotras escribiremos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras escribiréis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes escribirán

Spanish verbs: how to master irregular Spanish verbs

Remember how you managed to learn irregular English verbs? Well, there are tricks that you can use, but the truth is that, in time, irregular Spanish verbs will just… come to you. No joke. Once you get used to the language and use it all the time, your brain will start making connections.

As you already know, irregular verbs are “rebel” verbs that follow no regular set of rules. Statistically, in Spanish, almost all verbs ending in -ar are regular, almost all verbs ending in -er are irregular and less than half of all verbs ending in -ir are irregular. So, let’s disentangle this complicated situation of irregular Spanish verbs and look for some patterns to help us learn faster.

1. Stem-Changing Verbs in Spanish

The easiest type of irregular verbs in Spanish are the ones that require stem-changing but keep the regular endings. By the way, the stem of a verb is the result you get when you remove the infinitive suffix (meaning the -ar, -er, or -ir) from the infinitive form. For example, the stems of deber, hablar and vivir are “deb-“, “habl-” and “viv-“.

As you noticed earlier in this article, when working with regular Spanish verbs, you never change the verb stem. You just remove the infinitive suffix and add the suitable ending. Irregular verbs, however, work differently. For some of them, you’ll need to change the stem and then add the ending. Let’s see an example of the verb preferir (to prefer) :

  • Yo prefiero
  • Tú prefieres
  • Él / Ella / Usted prefiere
  • Nosotros /Nosotras preferimos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras preferís
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes prefieren

Did you notice? For the yo, , él/ella and ellos/ellas forms the stem changes from “e” to “ie”.

Well, that is the first category of stem-changing verbs. Other examples of verbs include empezar (to begin, to start), negar (to deny), perder (to lose), sentir (to feel), suferir (to suggest), etc.

The second category includes verbs that change the letter “o” to “ue”. Take almorzar (to eat lunch) for example:

  • Yo almuerzo
  • Tú almuerzas
  • Él / Ella / Usted almuerza
  • Nosotros /Nosotras almorzamos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras almorzáis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes almuerzan

Other similar verbs: aprobar (to aprove), llover (to rain), demostrar (to prove), resolver (to resolve), volar (to fly).

The third category includes verbs that change the letter “e” to “i”. Take repetir (to repeat) for example:

  • Yo repito
  • Tú repites
  • Él / Ella / Usted repite
  • Nosotros /Nosotras repetimos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras repetís
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes repiten

Other similar verbs: corregir (to correct), eligir (to choose), sonreír(se) (to smile).

And finally, the fourth category includes some “rebel” stem-changing verbs that don’t fit into any of the mentioned categories.

The verb oler (to smell), for example, is theoretically included in the second category (the one which transforms “o” to “ue”), but now, in addition to that, you also need to add an “h” to the beginning of the stem when the stem changes. Let’s see:

  • Yo huelo
  • Tú hueles
  • Él / Ella / Usted huele
  • Nosotros /Nosotras olemos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras oléis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes huelen

Then there’s the verb jugar (to play): the one and only example of a verb whose stem changes from “u” to a “ue”.

Adquirir (to acquire) and inquirir (to inquire) are just as rebellious because to the final letter “i” of their stem, we will need to add an “e”. Thus, “I acquire” will be “Yo adquiero”.

2. Spanish verbs with an irregular “yo” form

This category includes two types of verbs:
– verbs that follow the rules mentioned in the stem-changing category and, in addition, have an irregular form for the first person singular form – “yo”
– verbs that have an irregular “yo” form but no stem change

To illustrate the first type, let’s take tener (to have) for example:

  • Yo tengo
  • Tú tienes
  • Él / Ella / Usted tiene
  • Nosotros /Nosotras tenemos
  • Vosotros / Vosotras tenéis
  • Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes tienen

The same rule applies to:
decir (to say, to tell) – Yo digo, Tú dices
venir (to come) – Yo vengo, Tú vienes

The second type of verbs – verbs with an irregular “yo” form but no stem change – include examples like:
salir (to exit) – Yo salgo, Tú sales
dar (to give) – Yo doy, Tú das
ver (to see) – Yo veo, Tú ves

Spanish verbs conjugation examples – ser, estar, ir

Now that we managed to paint the big picture for both regular and irregular Spanish verbs, let’s finish this lesson with some eloquent examples of the most “rebel” verbs of the Spanish language: ser (to be), estar (to be, to be situated) and ir (to go). Here’s the present tense, preterite tense, and future tense conjugation for each and every one of them:

Sidenote: Ser and estar both mean “to be”. Ser is used to talk about permanent or lasting attributes like characteristics, long-term conditions, professions, nationalities and times. A good example would be “Yo soy Diana” – that’s a permanent attribute because my name will always be Diana.

Estar, on the other hand, is used to indicate temporary states and locations. For example, if you are tired, you will use estar because you are only tired for a limited period of time: Yo estoy cansada.

SERPresent TensePreterite TenseSimple Future Tense
Él / Ella / Ustedesfueserá
Nosotros / Nosotrassomosfuimosseremos
Vosotros / Vosotrassoisfuisteisseréis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedessonfueronserán
ESTARPresent TensePreterite TenseSimple Future Tense
Él / Ella / Ustedestáestuvoestará
Nosotros / Nosotrasestamosestuvimosestaremos
Vosotros / Vosotrasestáisestuvisteisestaréis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedesestánestuvieronestarán
IRPresent TensePreterite TenseSimple Future Tense
Él / Ella / Ustedvafueirá
Nosotros / Nosotrasvamosfuimosiremos
Vosotros / Vosotrasvaisfuisteisiréis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedesvanfueronirán
Well… this is it! This is our full lesson on Spanish verbs.

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Diana Lăpușneanu - Linguist at Mondly Blog

Diana is a Linguist at Mondly by Pearson. Learning English as a second language early on fueled her lifelong passion for language learning, leading her to pursue a diverse array of languages as a hobby alongside her academic endeavors. With a Master’s Degree in advertising and a fascination for historical linguistics, she brings a unique perspective to her role, making language learning fun for readers worldwide.

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