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

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irregular verbs in spanish

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 learnt the rules when conjugating irregular verbs. 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!

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
caminascorresvives
él/ ella/ ustedcaminacorrevive
nosotros/ nosotrascaminamoscorremosvivimos
ustedescaminancorrenviven
ellos/ ellascaminancorrenviven
irregular spanish verbs grammar
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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

Irregular Conjugations as Used in Argentina

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.

Irregular Conjugations as Used in Spain:

e → ie
sentir
e → i
pedir
o → ue
poder
yo*sientopidopuedo
sientespidespuedes
él/ ella/ usted*sientepidepuede
nosotros/assentimospedimospodemos
Vosotros/assentíspedíspodéis
ustedes*sientenpidenpueden
ellos/ ellas*sientenpidenpueden

*Here you will notice that the stem changes in the first person, second person (which we can notice is different than the vos form used in Argentina which is not considered irregular), 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 with “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.

‘Irregulares Totales’ or Total Irregulars:

serir
yo*soyvoy
vos*sosvas
tu*eresvas
él/ ella/ usted*esva
nosotros/as*somosvamos
vosotros/as*soisvais
ustedes*sonvan
ellos/ ellas*sonvan

Audio for the conjugation of the verb ser in Argentina:

Audio for the conjugation of the verb ir in Argentina:

Audio for the conjugation of the verb ser in Spain:

Audio for the conjugation of the verb ir in Spain:

*Notice the difference in pronunciation between a Spanish speaker from Argentina and a Spanish speaker from Spain

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*hago valgo pongosalgocaigotraigo

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.

When dealing with ‘irregulares mixtos’ in Argentina, a -g is added when conjugating in the first person singular, and stem changes in the third person singular and plural.

Take a look at the examples below:

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

When in Spain, the same rules apply for ‘irregulares mixtos’ as in Argentina, but we must must also implement a stem change when talking in the second person, tú:

TenerVenirDecirOír
yo*tengovengodigooigo
tienesvienesdicesoyes
él/ella/usted*tienevienediceoye
nosotros/astenemosvenimosdecimosoímos
vosotros/asteneísvenísdecísoís
ustedes*tienenvienendicenoyen
ellos/ellas*tienenvienendicenoyen

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

In Argentina, the stem changes to -y in the first, third person singular, and third person plural form:

huirconstruirsustituirincluir
yo*huyoconstruyosustituyo incluyo
voshuísconstruíssustituísincluís
él/ella/usted*huyeconstruyesustituye incluye
nosotroshuímosconstruímossustituímosincluímos
ustedes*huyenconstruyensustituyenincluyen
ellos/ellas*huyenconstruyensustituyenincluyen
It is important to note that the verb oír fits into both categories. In the first person the stem changes to -g and in the third person singular and plural the stem changes to -y.

In Spain, the stem changes to -y in the first person, second person, and third person singular and plural:

HuirConstruirSustituirIncluir
yo*huyoconstruyosustituyoincluyo
huyesconstruyessustituyesincluyes
él/ella/usted*huyeconstruyesustituyeincluye
nosotros/ashuímosconstruímossustituímosincluímos
vosotros/ashuísconstruíssustituísincluís
ustedes*huyenconstruyensustituyenincluyen
ellos/ellas*huyenconstruyensustituyenincluyen
It is important to note that the verb oír fits into both categories. In the first person the stem changes to -g and in the second person, third person singular, and third person plural the stem changes to -y.
20 Examples of Spanish Irregular Verbs

Ser – to be

Yo soy de España. (I am from Spain.)

eres muy inteligente. (You are very smart.)

Él es mi amigo. (He is my friend.)

Nosotros somos felices. (We are happy.)

Ellos son estudiantes. (They are students.)

Estar – to be

Yo estoy enfermo. (I am sick.)

estás cansado. (You are tired.)

Él está en la oficina. (He is in the office.)

Nosotros estamos en casa. (We are at home.)

Ellos están en la escuela. (They are at school.)

Tener – to have

Yo tengo hambre. (I am hungry.)

tienes frío. (You are cold.)

Él tiene un perro. (He has a dog.)

Nosotros tenemos

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, be sure to join us at any of our schools but especially our Spanish School in Toronto!

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