Spanish Verb Conjugation

Learning Spanish verb conjugation isn’t easy. But it's a little bit easier when you've got some help (and a cheat sheet!).

Learning Spanish verb conjugation isn’t easy. We happen to think it’s easier to memorize a few words than it is to learn the rules of conjugation. That’s why we made this handy cheat sheet and our free and paid language learning apps

 

Why Learn Spanish Verb Conjugation?

It’s easier to learn the rules of Spanish verb conjugation than it is to memorize the conjugated forms of each verb (we’re talking thousands of verbs here). Understanding the rules of a language can help you decipher the translation easier. 

 

Before you learn to conjugate verbs, you’ll need to learn pronouns and some of the infinitive forms of both regular and irregular verbs. Infinitive forms of verbs are essentially the words before you conjugate them.

 

Examples of infinitives include:

 

  • To be
  • To say
  • To speak
  • To take
  • To carry
  • To climb

 

In English, we place the word ‘to’ before the verb when we’re using the infinitive form of the word.

Spanish Pronouns

Pronouns are essentially words for people. They take the place of the name of a person. Instead of saying, “Alice went to the store,” you could say, “she went to the store.” Or even, “He went to the store,” when we’re talking about a man.

 

Yo = I

Tú, usted, ustedes = you, you (formal), you-all

Él, ella, usted = he, she, you 

Nosotros, nosotras = We (male and female)

 

These pronouns are used similarly to pronouns in English. I go to the store. You do the dishes. She plays the piano. 

Regular Verbs

Regular verbs are the easiest to conjugate in Spanish. These conjugations are very straight-forward and formulaic. 

 

How do you know which verbs are regular? You essentially need to memorize them. And there are a lot of them. There are essentially hundreds of regular Spanish verbs.

 

The most common regular verbs include:

 

  • To speak: hablar
  • To call: llamar
  • To drink (or take): tomar
  • To live: vivir
  • To pass (as in pass the time): pasar
  • To wait: esperar
  • To receive: recibir
  • To work: trabajar
  • To finish: terminar
  • To need: necesitar

 

You’re actually better off memorizing irregular Spanish verb conjugation because there is somewhat fewer irregular than regular verbs.

Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs are easier to remember because there are fewer irregular than regular verbs in Spanish. Just some irregular verbs include:

 

  • To be: ser
  • To feel: estar
  • To have: tener
  • To be able to: poder
  • To go: ir
  • To place: poner

 

As you can see, many of these irregular verbs are some of the most commonly used verbs. What is more common than ‘to be’ and ‘to feel?’ We all talk about who we are and how we feel all the time.

 

Conjugating Present Tense

Conjugating Spanish verbs is easiest in the present tense. That’s because we use the present most. 

 

“I go to the store.” 

 

“She rides her bike.”

 

“He takes a cookie.”

 

Of course, we do use past and future tenses often as well. But learning present tense first can help you conjugate future and past tenses easier.

 

Let’s start with an easy regular verb: 

 

To talk: hablar.

 

Yo habl-o

Tú habla-s

Él, ella, usted habla

Nosotros habla-mos

 

You replace the r (or ar in some cases) with o, s and mos.

 

Let’s try a verb that ends in ir: vivir (or, to live).

 

Yo viv-o

Tú viv-es

Él, ella, usted viv-e

Nosotros vivimos

 

You can see in this case that you replace the ir (or in one case, the r) with o, e, es or mos. 

 

Conjugating Past Tense

Now that you’re a pro at conjugating present tense, let’s move on to the past. (or, go back to the past as it were). 

 

Let’s start with our easy regular verb: 

 

To talk: hablar.

 

Yo habl-é

Tú habla-ste

Él, ella, usted habló

Nosotros habla-mos

 

You replace the ar (or just the r in one case) with é, ste, ó and mos.

 

Let’s try our verb that ends in ir: vivir (or, to live).

 

Yo viv-í

Tú viv-iste

Él, ella, usted viv-ió

Nosotros vivimos

 

You can see in this case that you replace the r with ste, ó or mos (and in the case of yo viv-í, you remove the r altogether). 

 

It is important to know that this is the most basic past tense Spanish verb conjugation. In Spanish, you also have the preterite and imperfect past tenses as well.

 

Conjugating Future Tense

Now that we know how to conjugate present and past tense, let’s travel to the future. 

 

Let’s start with our easy regular verb: 

 

To talk: hablar.

 

Yo hablar-é

Tú hablar-ás

Él, ella, usted hablar-a

Nosotros hablar-emos

 

Instead of replacing the r, you keep the infinitive form of the verb and add é, ás, a and emos.

 

Tips for Spanish Verb Conjugation

Learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs isn’t always easy. That’s why we recommend taking things slow and going at your own pace. We also recommend downloading a language translation app to help you hear the pronunciation and determine if verbs are regular or irregular at first.

 

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