Conquer Spanish Conjugations: A Comprehensive Guide to 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 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 verbhablar, caminar, saltar, amar
-ER verbcomer, leer, temer, correr
-IR verbvivir, 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

SpanishEnglish
Yo caminoI walk
Tú caminasYou walk
Vos caminásYou walk
Él/ella camina
Usted camina
He/she walks
You (formal) walk
Nosotros/as caminamosWe walk
Vosotros/as caminaísYou guys walk (informal)
Ustedes caminanYou guys walk
Ellos/ellasThey walk
Remember that ‘vos’ is mainly used in Argentina and Uruguay, while ‘tú’ is used in Spain and many other Spanish speaking countries. Additonally, ‘vosotros’ is only used in Spain as the 3rd person singular form and is used in an informal setting while ustedes is used in a formal setting.

Leer – To read

SpanishEnglish
Yo leoI read
Tú leesYou read
Vos leésYou read
Él/ella lee
Usted lee
He/she reads
You (formal) read
Nosotros/as leemosWe read
Vosotros/as leísYou guys read (informal)
Ustedes leenYou guys read
Ellos/ellas leenThey read

Abrir – To open

SpanishEnglish
Yo abroI open
Tú abresYou open
Vos abrísYou open
Él/ella abre
Usted abre
He/she opens
You (formal) open
Nosotros/as abrimosWe open
Vosotros/as abrís You guys open (informal)
Ustedes abrenYou guys 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 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:

Conquer Spanish Conjugations: A Comprehensive Guide to  The Present Tense
  1. Yo ________ una carta. (escribir)
  2. Tú ________ a la escuela. (caminar)
  3. Ella ________ el periódico. (leer)
  4. Nosotros ________ en la biblioteca. (estudiar)
  5. Vosotros ________ en la playa. (descansar)
  6. Ellos ________ una pizza grande. (comer)
  7. Usted ________ el informe. (revisar)
  8. Juan y Ana ________ música en el parque. (escuchar)
  9. Yo ________ mi tarea. (hacer)
  10. Mi hermano ________ con sus amigos. (jugar)
  11. Tú ________ en el concierto. (bailar)
  12. Nosotras ________ en la cafetería. (almorzar)
  13. Vosotros ________ en la reunión. (participar)
  14. Ustedes ________ en la tienda. (comprar)
  15. 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!

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