June 30, 2020 · ,

Your Ultimate Guide to Irregular Verbs in Spanish in the Present Tense

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Just like in English, the Spanish language has many irregular verbs. Fortunately for you, the majority of the irregular verbs in Spanish follow a pattern. Therefore, they are much easier to learn once you have memorized the rules when conjugating irregular verbs in Spanish. With this supreme guide, you will be a master at conjugating irregular present tense verbs before you can say “Spanish”!

Remember, in Spanish, we have to conjugate all verbs according to the person, tense, voice and mood. Let’s get started!

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If you remember from our previous lesson about regular verbs, there are three types of infinitives in Spanish: verbs that end in -ar, -er, or -ir. Infinitives are made up of two parts: the stem and the ending. Below you will notice that the stem is written in italics and the ending is in bold:

  • Caminar
  • Correr
  • Vivir

With regular verbs, the stem does not change when it is conjugated.

Persona-AR-ER-IR
yocaminocorrovivo
voscamináscorrésvivís
él/ ella/ ustedcaminacorrevive
nosotros/ nosotrascaminamoscorremosvivimos
ustedescaminancorrenviven
ellos/ ellascaminancorrenviven

With many verbs in Spanish, the stem changes when you conjugate them, and this is what makes them irregular. In the present tense, we have three main groups of stem changing verbs (with some other exceptions that we will talk about later):

The three main groups of stem changing verbs are as follows:

  • e → ie
  • e → i
  • o → ue
e → ie
sentir
e → i
pedir
o → ue
poder
yo*sientopidopuedo
vossentíspedíspodés
él/ ella/ usted*sientepidepuede
nosotros/ nosotrassentimospedimospodemos
ustedes*sientenpidenpueden
ellos/ ellas*sientenpidenpueden

*You will notice in the above chart that the stem changes in the first person, third person singular and third person plural forms. That is to say: yo, él/ ella/ usted, ustedes y ellos/ ellas.

Below is a list of common stem changing verbs in Spanish:

e → iee → io → ue
calentar, empezar,
despertar, mentir,
sentir, perder,
entender, querer
medir, reír,
despedir, impedir,
vestir, repetir,
servir
contar, costar,
dormir, encontrar,
volver, soñar,
recordar, volar
There is also one instance where u turns into ue and that’s in “jugar”.

Now that we have learned about basic stem changing verbs, we can take a look at some of the exceptions that we talked about earlier.

Now let’s go into what are called the “irregulares totales” or total irregulars:

serir
yo*soyvoy
vos*sosvas
él/ ella/ usted*esva
nosotros/ nosotras*somosvamos
ustedes*sonvan
ellos/ ellas*sonvan

Audio for the conjugation of the verb ser:

Audio for the conjugation of the verb ir:

Now we are going to take a look at irregular verbs that only change their stems in the first person singular. There are three different changes that we make when conjugating these irregular verbs in the first person singular.

In the first category, we change the ending to y:

darestar
yo*doyestoy

In the second category, we change the stem to g.

hacervalerponersalircaertraer
yo*hagovalgopongosalgocaigotraigo

In the third category, we change the stem to zc.

pareceragradecerconocertraducirproducirconducir
yo*parezcoagradezcoconozcotraduzcoproduzcoconduzco

Now that we have seen irregular stem changing verbs and total irregular verbs, we are going to take a look at the “irregulares mixtos” or mixed irregular verbs.

These verbs add a g in the first person singular and change stems in the third person singular and plural.

Take a look at the examples below:

tenervenirdeciroír
yo*tengovengodigooigo
vostenésvenísdecísoís
él/ella*tienevienediceoye
nosotrostenemosvenimosdecimosoímos
ustedes*tienenvienendicenoyen
ellos/ellas*tienenvienendicenoyen

Finally, we are going to look at irregular stem changing verbs with y:

huirconstruirsustituirincluir
yo*huyoconstruyosustituyoincluyo
voshuísconstruíssustituísincluís
él/ella*huyeconstruyesustituyeincluye
nosotroshuímosconstruímossustituímosincluímos
ustedes*huyenconstruyensustituyenincluyen
ellos/ellas*huyenconstruyensustituyenincluyen

And that’s it! Now you just need to practice

With a little bit of practice, you will be an expert in no time! And if you have any doubts you can always come back to this post and clear them!

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