Spanish/Present

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Verbs


No bones about it. The present tense is EASY. Just memorize the endings for the different verbs and a couple of oddball exceptions and you will be able to talk about any momentary thing that is on your mind. Who needs to plan for the future, dwell on the past, or delve into abstraction anyway ?

There are three verb types in Spanish. They are called -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs. Each of these refers to the last two letters of the infinitive form of the verb. Examples: -AR: bailar, to dance; -ER: aprender, to learn; and -IR: escribir, to write.

When you conjugate a verb you take the generic, infinitive form and change the ending to match the person(s) or thing(s) doing whatever action the verb describes. In Spanish, the last two letters come off and another ending goes on in their place. Each verb tense has its own set of six endings for each verb type. Don't worry though, there are patterns there and much of the endings overlap so it is easier to remember them.

The present tense verb endings are as follows:

-ar verbs[edit]

Yo (I): -o
Tú (you, informal): -as
El, ella, or usted (he, she, or you, formal): -a
Nosotros (we): -amos
Vosotros (you, plural): -áis
Ellos, ustedes (they, or you, plural formal): -an

That is:

-o
-as
-a
-amos
-áis
-an

Sometimes the vowel in the ending is accented.

Here is an example conjugation:

Bailar

Yo bailo. I dance.
Tú bailas. You dance.
Usted, Él, Ella baila. You (respectful) dance, he or she dances
Nosotros bailamos. We dance.
Vosotros bailáis. You dance.
Ustedes, Ellos, Ellas bailan. They dance.

Of course, most of the above statements can be restated without any loss of meaning with no pronoun: Bailo -- I dance; bailas, you dance. In Spanish, the verbs change to reflect the person(s) doing the action on them and it is OK to leave off the pronouns, especially when context makes the subject clear.

-er/-ir verbs[edit]

-ER and -IR verbs are almost identical, so they are often listed together. The only differences in the present tense are in Nosotros and Vosotros.

For -ER verbs:

Yo (I): -o
Tú (you, informal): -es
El, ella, or usted (he, she, or you, formal): -e
Nosotros (we): -emos
Vosotros (you, plural): -éis
Ellos, ustedes (they, or you, plural formal): -en

For -IR verbs:

Yo (I): -o
Tú (you, informal): -es
El, ella, or usted (he, she, or you, formal): -e
Nosotros (we): -imos
Vosotros (you, plural): -ís
Ellos, ustedes (they, or you, plural formal): -en

That is:

-o
-es
-e
-emos (for -ER) or :-imos (for -IR)
-éis (for -ER) or :-ís (for -IR)
-en

Here is an example conjugation of an -ER verb:

Aprender

Yo aprendo. I learn.
Tú aprendes. You learn.
Usted aprende. You (respectful) learn.
Nosotros aprendemos. We learn.
Vosotros aprendéis. You learn.
Ellos aprenden. They learn.

Here's an example conjugation of an -IR verb:

Escribir

Yo escribo. I write.
Tú escribes. You write.
Usted escribe. You (respectful) write.
Nosotros escribimos. We write.
Vosotros escribís. You write.
Ellos escriben. They write.

Irregular verbs[edit]

Ser[edit]

Yo soy. I am.
Tú eres. You are.
El/Ella/Ud. es. He/She/You(formal) is.
Nosotros/Nosotras somos. We are.
Vosotros sois. You are (plural).
Ellos/Ellas son. They are.

Ir[edit]

Yo voy. I go.
Tú vas. You go. (A statement, not technically a command)
Ella va. She goes.
Nosotros vamos. We go.
Ustedes van. Y'all go.

Tener[edit]

tengo
tienes
tiene
tenemos
tienen

Note that the first "e" turns to "ie" in all of the conjugations except the "nosotros" form. That is a pattern that you will see repeated.