Verb Conjugation

This chapter deals with the conjugation of Spanish verbs in the presente de indicativo. This is the Spanish present indicative tense and corresponds to the simple present in English.

The Presente de Indicativo is used for the following use cases:

  • Facts or states in the present

Example: Este es Vanesa. (This is Vanesa.)

  • Actions in the present
Example: Cada martes cocina su comida favorita. (Every Tuesday she cooks her favorite meal.)
  • Actions that express how long something has been taking place
Example: Juega al fútbol desde hace cinco años. (He has been playing soccer for five years.)
  • With a corresponding time specification, actions in the future can also be described
Example: El próximo martes tiene que cocinar para toda la familia. (Next Tuesday he will have to cook for the whole family.)
 To conjugate Spanish verbs, the infinitive ending -ar/-er/-ir is removed and the following endings are added:
Subject -ar
yo hablo aprendo vivo
hablas aprendes vives
él/ella/usted habla aprende vive
nosotros/-as hablamos aprendemos vivimos
vosotros/-as habláis aprendéis vivís
ellos/ellas/ustedes hablan aprenden viven

However, there are some irregular verbs that you should be aware of:

Subject ser estar ir oir oler
yo soy estoy voy oigo huelo
eres estás vas oyes hueles
él/ella/usted es está va oye huele
nosotros/-as somos estamos vamos oímos olemos
vosotros/-as sois estáis vais oís oléis
ellos/ellas/ustedes son están van oyen huelen

In addition, some verbs have specifics only in the yo form.

The following table shows the verbs that change their stem in the yo form or where a g is placed before the ending. However, these changes are only in the yo form. All other forms of the verb are formed normally.

Infinitive yo form Translation
asir asgo grab
caer caigo fall
dar doy geben
decir digo say
hacer hago do/make
poner pongo put
saber know
salir salgo leave
tener tengo have
traer traigo bring
valer valgo be worth
venir vengo come
ver veo see

In order not to change the pronunciation, some verbs have to slightly change their stem:

Infinitive yo form Change
mecer mezo c→z
coger cojo g→j
distinguir distingo gu→g
delinguir delinco gu→c

For verbs ending in -ducir or vowel + -cer, you put a z before the c in the yo form. Exceptions are the verbs hacer, mecer and cocer.

Infinitive yo form
traducir traduzco
conocer conozco

Some verbs also have special characteristics in all singular forms and the ellos form.

For some verbs in the presente, the stem vowel changes in the singular and the ellos form (ei/ie, oue).

Subject servir cerrar recordar
yo sirvo cierro recuerdo
sirves cierras recuerdas
él/ella/usted sirve cierra recuerda
nosotros/-as servimos cerramos recordamos
vosotros/-as servís cerráis recordáis
ellos/ellas/ustedes sirven cierran recuerdan

For many verbs ending with -iar or -uar, as well as prohibir and reunir, you need to put an accent on the i or u in the singular forms and ellos form.

Subject espiar actuar prohibir reunir
yo espío actúo prohíbo reúno
espías actúas prohíbes reúnes
él/ella/usted espía actúa prohíbe reúne
nosotros/-as espiamos actuamos prohibimos reunimos
vosotros/-as espiáis actuáis prohibís reunís
ellos/ellas/ustedes espían actúan prohíben reúnen

For verbs on -uir, you must insert a y before endings that do not begin with i.

Subject sustituir construir
yo sustituyo construyo
sustituyes construyes
él/ella/usted sustituye construye
nosotros/-as sustituimos construimos
vosotros/-as sustituís construís
ellos/ellas/ustedes sustituyen construyen