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As we are all aware, verbs are words that represent actions. In both English and Spanish, we conjugate verbs based on the subject performing the action. However, Spanish features a greater number of conjugations compared to English. Similar to English, verbs in Spanish can be classified as either “regular” or “irregular.” A regular verb adheres to the standard conjugation pattern, making it more predictable in form. Today, we are going to learn how to conjugate regular verbs in the present tense:
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 verb||hablar, caminar, saltar, amar|
|-ER verb||comer, leer, temer, correr|
|-IR verb||vivir, abrir, partir, vivir|
Remember what it means to conjugate a verb:
To conjugate a verb means to modify its form to reflect the tense, mood, and voice of an action, as well as to agree with the subject in terms of person (first, second, or third person) and number (singular or plural). Conjugating a verb essentially involves changing its ending to communicate who is performing the action and when the action is taking place. Please take note of the model in the chart below:
| -AR (hablar) | -ER (comer) | -IR (vivir) ----------|--------------|-------------|------------ 1st sing. | hablo | como | vivo 2nd sing. | hablas | comes | vives 2nd sing. (vos) | hablás | comés | vivís 3rd sing. | habla | come | vive 1st plur. | hablamos | comemos | vivimos 2nd plur. | habláis | coméis | vivís 3rd plur. | hablan | comen | viven *please note that the 'vos' form is used in some Spanish speaking countries such as Argentina and Ururguay instead of 'tú'. Both the 'vos' and 'tú' form are used interchangeably and have the same meaning.
Now that we have introduced some regular verbs and their corresponding conjugations, let’s delve deeper into their functionality by examining their English translations:
Caminar – To walk
|Yo camino||I walk|
|Tú caminas||You walk|
|Vos caminás||You walk|
You (formal) walk
|Nosotros/as caminamos||We walk|
|Vosotros/as caminaís||You guys walk (informal)|
|Ustedes caminan||You guys walk|
Leer – To read
|Yo leo||I read|
|Tú lees||You read|
|Vos leés||You read|
You (formal) read
|Nosotros/as leemos||We read|
|Vosotros/as leís||You guys read (informal)|
|Ustedes leen||You guys read|
|Ellos/ellas leen||They read|
Abrir – To open
|Yo abro||I open|
|Tú abres||You open|
|Vos abrís||You open|
You (formal) open
|Nosotros/as abrimos||We open|
|Vosotros/as abrís||You guys open (informal)|
|Ustedes abren||You guys open|
|Ellos/ellas abren||They 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 second person singular (tú) form of the verb, you drop the -r and add -s. When dealing with -IR verbs we drop the -ir and add -es.
|Tú caminas||(caminar – r + s = caminas)|
|Tú lees||(leer – r + s = lees)|
|Tú abres||(abrir – ir + es = abres)|
When using ‘vos’ the formula is quite similar. The only difference is that with -IR verbs we simply drop the -r and add an -s. Additionally, we add an accent mark to the last vowel.
|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/you formal (él/ella/usted) form of the verb, we drop the ending and add either -a (for -ar verbs) or -e (for -er and -ir verbs).
|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)|
To conjugate regular -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs in the vosotros form (second person plural – informal) in the present tense, we need to remove the ending, and add “-áis” to the stem for -AR verbs, “-éis” to the stem for -ER verbs, and “-ís” to the stem for -IR verbs.
|Vosotros/as camináis||(caminar -ar + áis = camináis)|
|Vosotros/as leéis||(leer – er + éis = leéis)|
|Vosotros/as abrís||(abrir -ir + ís = abrís)|
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).
|Ellos/ellas/ustedes caminan||(caminar – ar + an = caminan)|
|Ellos/ellas/ustedes leen||(leer – er + en = leen)|
|Ellos/ellas/ustedes 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.
Now, let’s put your skills to the test and practice conjugating regular verbs in the present tense:
- Yo ________ una carta. (escribir)
- Tú ________ a la escuela. (caminar)
- Ella ________ el periódico. (leer)
- Nosotros ________ en la biblioteca. (estudiar)
- Vosotros ________ en la playa. (descansar)
- Ellos ________ una pizza grande. (comer)
- Usted ________ el informe. (revisar)
- Juan y Ana ________ música en el parque. (escuchar)
- Yo ________ mi tarea. (hacer)
- Mi hermano ________ con sus amigos. (jugar)
- Tú ________ en el concierto. (bailar)
- Nosotras ________ en la cafetería. (almorzar)
- Vosotros ________ en la reunión. (participar)
- Ustedes ________ en la tienda. (comprar)
- Ellas ________ fotografías. (tomar)
As you can see, mastering regular verb conjugations in the present tense is essential for building your Spanish fluency. By learning these conjugations, you’ll be better equipped to communicate effectively in a variety of situations. Immerse yourself in the language and embrace the rich heritage of the Spanish-speaking world as you practice and perfect your skills. Enroll in one of our language course today and take the first step towards becoming a confident Spanish speaker with the support of dedicated instructors. Your language journey awaits—don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to grow and excel!