How to Conjugate Spanish Verbs

Learn the conjugation of Spanish verbs, together with common rules and usage.

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Verbs are a cornerstone of any language; without them you can’t communicate properly. Spanish is no different, and grasping the basics of verb conjugation is essential to become an effective speaker of the language.

In this article, you’ll learn how to structure Spanish verbs, their common rules, and exceptions, as well as basic temporal conjugations.

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spanish verb conjugations busuu

Learning the conjugation for verbs like "vemos", a conjugated form of the Spanish verb "ver" (to see) is just the beginning! Learn more via Busuu’s free online courses in Spanish today!

Understanding Spanish verb conjugation

In Spanish, you’ll find verbs change more than they do in English. They have to fit the subject, the tenses and the mode.

These changes are known as conjugations. To conjugate a verb, we consider the subject pronoun and modify the verb accordingly.

Subject pronouns

I Yo
You (singular) Tú (informal), Usted (formal)
He, She, It Él / Ella
We Nosotros / Nosotras
You (plural) Vosotros / Vosotras
They Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes

This is important, because in Spanish we use different endings for the verbs depending on who performs the action.

From here it becomes easy to conjugate, since most regular verbs simply follow a set of rules.

Irregular verbs, on the other hand, don’t follow the same pattern as the regular ones. However, as you will discover later in this article, there are some ways to make learning those verbs easier.

Don’t worry, you’ll get a grasp on them sooner than you think!

Note: For referring to a group of people in the second person, “vosotros” is typically used in Spain in informal situations, while “ustedes” is the formal way. Meanwhile, in Latin America, “vosotros” is rarely used, and “ustedes” is used in both contexts.

Regular verbs: -ar, -er and –ir

Let’s start with the basics: regular verbs are the easiest to learn, because they always behave the same.

And luckily for you, most verbs in Spanish are regular!

The most basic form of a verb is called the infinitivo (“infinitive”). There are three groups of verbs in Spanish, divided according to their endings:

  • hablar (to talk/speak)
  • leer (to read)
  • escribir (to write)

The verbs in each group will follow the same conjugation pattern. Sounds simple, right?

To start conjugating a verb, all you have to do is take away the ending in order to isolate the stem of the verb. Then you add the corresponding termination.

Infinitive and stem for verb conjugations

Infinitive Stem
hablar habl-
leer le-
escribir escrib-

Regular verb endings: Present tense in the indicative

Now we can begin conjugating verbs. A good place to start is the present tense, the one you will be using first for basic communication, such as introducing yourself.

We will focus just on this tense for now so you can get an idea of how conjugation works. The method will be the same for most tenses in Spanish.

First, let’s see how to form the present tense or presente simple for each group of verbs.

Present tense endings

-ar verbs -er verbs -ir verbs
-o -o -o
-as -es -es
-a -e -e
-amos -emos -imos
-áis -éis -ís
-an -en -en

We can start by conjugating the examples we just mentioned above: hablar, leer and escribir.

verb-conjugations busuu

Present tense conjugation

Personal pronoun -ar example -er example -ir example
Yo hablo leo escribo
hablas lees escribes
Él / Ella / Usted habla lee escribe
Nosotros hablamos leemos escribimos
Vosotros habláis leéis escribís
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes hablan leen escribís

Irregular verbs

When verbs don’t follow a pattern for conjugation, they are called “irregulares" (irregular).

Some of these verbs will possibly look like a regular -ar, -er or -ir verb, but they actually change their stems when they are conjugated.

Take for example the verb pensar (to think), and compare it with hablar. They both belong to the -ar group, but pensar is not regular because it changes a vowel in its stem:

Present tense - pensar

Personal pronoun Conjugated verb
Yo pienso
Él / Ella / Usted piensa
Nosotros pensamos
Vosotros pensáis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes piensan

Despite being irregular, there is actually a group of verbs like pensar that also change the “e” in the stem to “ie” when being conjugated in the present tense. Other verbs in this group are querer (to want/love) and preferir (to prefer).

  • ¿Quieres ir al restaurante? (Do you want to go to the restaurant?)
  • ¿Cuál prefieres? (Which one do you prefer?)

And there is another group of irregular verbs that change the “o” in the stem for “ue” in the present tense: poder (to be able to), volver (to go back), dormir (to sleep), etc.

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spanish verb conjugations busuu

Conjugating irregular verbs like “Puedo” will be easier for you as you continue learning via Busuu’s free online lessons and vocabulary reviews! Try them all today!

Present tense - poder

Personal pronoun Conjugated verb
Yo puedo
Él / Ella / Usted puede
Nosotros podemos
Vosotros podéis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes pueden
  • Puedo venir a pie a la oficina. (I can walk to the office)

  • Vuelvo a casa andando todos los días. (I go back home walking every day)

One thing to remember (and this is one of the reasons they’re irregular!) is that verbs that change “e” to “ie” and “o” to “ue” don’t change for all personal pronouns. The exceptions are the pronouns “nosotros / nosotras” and “vosotros / vosotras”.

Let’s take a closer look with a few examples.

Irregular verbs – present tense

Personal pronoun Simple present (Presente simple) - querer Simple present (Presente simple) - volver
Yo quiero vuelvo
quieres vuelves
Él / Ella / Usted quiere vuelve
Nosotros queremos volvemos
Vosotros queréis volvéis
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes quieren vuelven

But this doesn’t end here. There are still some other irregular verbs that don’t belong to any of these groups.

These other verbs, like ser (to be) and ir (to go), change their stems a lot more, and sometimes completely. Finding out rules to learn these verbs is not that simple, so you will have to memorize them.

However, since they are usually common verbs for everyday use, you’ll be able to learn them quickly.

Present tense of ser and ir

Personal pronoun Simple present (presente simple) –ser Simple present (presente simple) – ir
Yo soy voy
eres vas
Él / Ella / Usted es va
Nosotros somos vamos
Vosotros sois vais
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes son van

Let’s review

Spanish verb conjugation may appear daunting at first, but with practice and understanding of the rules, you can pick it up rather quickly.

Just remember the basics: from the infinitive, take out the ending (-ar, -er or -ir) to get the stem and then add the ending for the corresponding person and tense. Look out for irregular verbs that change a vowel in their stem, like pensar or poder. Also, remember to learn the conjugations for other irregular verbs like ser or ir

With dedication and perseverance, you will gain confidence in conjugating Spanish verbs, opening the door to effective communication and language fluency.

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