November 3, 2020 · ,

Your Fool Proof Guide to Spanish Conjugations in the Present Tense

In this article you will learn the three main types of regular Spanish verbs and how to conjugate them!

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As we all know, a verb is a word that depicts an action. In both English and Spanish, we conjugate verbs depending on the person who is completing the action. However, in Spanish, we have many more conjugations than in English. Just like in English, all verbs are either “regular” or “irregular”. A regular verb is a verb that follows the typical conjugation pattern.

Today we will be looking at regular verbs.

Take a look at the last two letters of each verb:

  • caminar (to walk)
  • leer (to read)
  • abrir (to open)

Spanish has three different groups of verbs:

  • -ar verbs (like caminar)
  • -er verbs (like leer)
  • -ir verbs (like abrir)

All three groups are infinitives. Think back to our previous lesson when we talked about infinitives. Infinitives are the original form of the verb. In English infinitives are the verbs that have the auxiliary “to” before the verb: to walk, to read, to open, etc.

In Spanish, all infinitives end in -ar, -er, or -ir.

-ar verbcaminar, saltar, amar
-er verbleer, temer, correr
-ir verbabrir, partir, vivir

Remember what it means to conjugate a verb:

  • I eat
  • you eat
  • he eats/she eats
  • we eat
  • they eat

Okay great!

Below, we are going to learn how to conjugate the Spanish verbs that we introduced in the first part of the lesson:

caminar – to walk

SpanishEnglish
yo caminoI walk
vos caminásyou walk
él/ella/usted caminahe/she walks
nosotros/as caminamoswe walk
ustedes caminanyou walk
ellos/ellasthey walk

leer – to read

SpanishEnglish
yo leoI read
vos leésyou read
él/ella/usted leehe/she reads
nosotros/as leemoswe read
ustedes leenyou read
ellos/ellas leenthey read

abrir – to open

SpanishEnglish
yo abroI open
vos abrísyou open
él/ella/usted abrehe/she opens
nosotros/as abrimoswe open
ustedes abrenyou open
ellos/ellas abrenthey open

Look for patterns in the various forms of the verb. Do you notice how the endings change?

In order to conjugate the I (yo) form of the verb, you drop the -ar, -er or -ir and add -o.

yo camino(caminar – ar + o = camino)
yo leo(leer – er + o = leo)
yo abro(abrir – ir + o = abro)

In order to conjugate the you (vos) form of the verb, you drop the -r and add -s.

vos caminás(caminar – r + s = caminás)
vos leés(leer – r + s = leés)
vos abrís(abrir – r + s = abrís)

In order to conjugate the he/she (usted) form of the verb, we drop the ending and add either -a (for -ar verbs) or -e (for -er and -ir vebrs).

él/ ella/ usted camina(caminar – ar + a = camina)
él/ ella/ usted lee(leer – er + e = lee)
él/ ella/ usted abre(abrir – ir + e = abre)

To conjugate the we (nosotros) form of the verb, you drop the ending and add -amos, -emos, or -imos.

nosotros/as caminamos(caminar – ar + amos = caminamos)
nosotros/as leemos(leer – er + emos = leemos)
nosotros/as abrimos(abrir – ir + imos = abrimos)

In order to conjugate the you (ustedes) and the they (ellos/ ellas/ ustedes), you need to drop the ending and add -an ( for -ar verbs) or -en (for -er and -ir vebs).

ustedes caminan(caminar – ar + an = caminan)
ustedes leen(leer – er + en = leen)
ustedes abren(abrir – ir + en = abren)
ellos/ ellas caminan(caminar – ar + an = caminan)
ellos/ ellas leen(leer – er + en = leen)
ellos/ ellas abren(abrir – ir + en = abren)

Notice that the endings of the verbs in their infinitive forms determine the endings that their conjugated forms will take.

Note: Learning how to conjugate verbs in Spanish is probably the most important thing you will have to do when learning, so I suggest making flashcards to start out in order to practice.

Once you have finished your regular verbs flashcards, you will be ready to move on and master irregular verbs. Learning to conjugate verbs is essential, as this process will plant the roots for success in your Spanish learning journey.

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