Spanish Verbs in the Present Tense and Conjugations

In order to understand the Spanish Verbs in the Present Tense, it's good to review some basic concepts.  A verb is a word used to express an action, a process, or to describe a state or existence, and it affects people and things. Learning about how to use these verbs in their different tenses and conjugations is an invaluable asset that will open a big door for fluency and conversation in Spanish. 

In this lesson you will learn about verbs in their non-conjugated forms as well as the one used in the Present Tense and how to conjugate them. 

Understanding Infinitives

The infinitive of a verb is, as the name suggests, timeless. It is the unconjugated form of the verb and therefore has no tense (such as past, present, or future).

In English, the infinitive of a verb is formed by adding the word “to.” Examples include: to learn, to act, and to be.

In Spanish, the infinitive of a verb is indicated by one of the following endings:

–AR, -ER, and -IR.

Here are some common verbs.

-AR verbs

-IR verbs

-ER verbs

Caminar

To walk

Preguntar

To ask

Escribir

To write

Compartir

To share

Leer

To read

Tener

To have

Isolating Verb Endings

Just as you saw with ser, every verb has a different conjugation according to the subject and tense of the sentence. Fortunately, the conjugations follow some very simple rules. All you have to do is change the ending of the verb according to the appropriate rule.

Let’s start with the present tense and see how the verb endings change with each subject pronoun.

Each type of verb —AR, —ER, and —IR has a different set of endings. Study the verb endings in the table below. How is each type of verb different? Can you detect any patterns?

Conjugate a Verb

AR - Caminar

Yo camino

I walk

Tú caminas

You walk

Usted camina

You (formal) walk

Él camina

He walks

Ella camina

She walks

Nosotros caminamos

We (masc.) walk

Nosotras caminamos

We (fem.) walk

Vosotros camináis

You (pl. masc.) walk

Vosotras camináis

You (pl. fem.) walk

Ustedes caminan

You (plural) walk

Ellos caminan

They (masc.) walk

Ellas caminan

They (fem.) walk

ER - Comer

Yo como

I eat

Tú comes

You eat

Usted come

You (formal) eat

Él come

He eats

Ella come

She eats

Nosotros comemos

We (masc.) eat

Nosotras comemos

We (fem.) eat

Vosotros coméis

You (pl. masc.) eat

Vosotras coméis

You (pl. fem.) eat

Ustedes comen

You (plural) eat

Ellos comen

They (masc.) eat

Ellas comen

They (fem.) eat

IR - Escribir

Yo escribo

I write

Tú escribes

You write

Usted escribe

You (formal) write

Él escribe

He writes

Ella escribe

She writes

Nosotros escribimos

We (masc.) write

Nosotras escribimos

We (fem.) write

Vosotros escribís

You (pl. masc.) write

Vosotras escribís

You (pl. fem.) write

Ustedes escriben

You (plural) write

Ellos escriben

They (masc.) write

Ellas escriben

They (fem.) write

In order to conjugate a verb, you first need to identify the verb “stem.” The stem is the part of the verb that, in most cases, remains constant.

Find the stem by taking the infinitive of the verb and removing the –ar, -er, or –ir ending.

Por ejemplo:

Verb

Stem

dibujar

dibuj

preguntar

pregunt

leer

le

compartir

compart

Now that you have the stem by itself, consult the table of verb endings and add the appropriate one, according to who is performing the action.

Por ejemplo:

Using Two Verbs in a Row

When two verbs are used consecutively without changing the subject, the second verb is usually written in the infinitive form.

Por ejemplo:

Tú necesitas estudiar para la prueba.

You need to study for the exam.

Espero terminar pronto.

I hope to finish soon.

Los niños necesitan descansar esta semana.

The children need to rest this week.

When Something Isn’t Happening: Negative Sentences

To convert a sentence into a negative form in Spanish, all you need to do is add the word “no” immediately before the conjugated verb.

Por ejemplo:

No vamos a terminar pronto.

We are not going to finish soon.

Ella no necesita estudiar para la prueba.

She does not need to study for the test.

Yo no soy piloto de aviones.

I am not an airplane pilot.

Be careful that you add the “no” before the conjugated verb—not the infinitive or subject.

Por ejemplo:

¡No ella necesita! (incorrecto) - ¡Ella no necesita! (correcto)

In this section you’ve begun to learn about verbs, their endings, and use in the present tense. 


Rocket Reinforcement

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