Spanish Verbs in the Present Tense and Conjugations
In order to understand the Spanish Verbs in the Present Tense, it's good to review some basic concepts. A verb is a word used to express an action, a process, or to describe a state or existence, and it affects people and things. Learning about how to use these verbs in their different tenses and conjugations is an invaluable asset that will open a big door for fluency and conversation in Spanish.
In this lesson you will learn about verbs in their non-conjugated forms as well as the one used in the Present Tense and how to conjugate them.
The infinitive of a verb is, as the name suggests, timeless. It is the unconjugated form of the verb and therefore has no tense (such as past, present, or future).
In English, the infinitive of a verb is formed by adding the word “to.” Examples include: to learn, to act, and to be.
In Spanish, the infinitive of a verb is indicated by one of the following endings:
–AR, -ER, and -IR.
Here are some common verbs.
Isolating Verb Endings
Just as you saw with ser, every verb has a different conjugation according to the subject and tense of the sentence. Fortunately, the conjugations follow some very simple rules. All you have to do is change the ending of the verb according to the appropriate rule.
Let’s start with the present tense and see how the verb endings change with each subject pronoun.
Each type of verb —AR, —ER, and —IR has a different set of endings. Study the verb endings in the table below. How is each type of verb different? Can you detect any patterns?
Conjugate a Verb
AR - Caminar
You (formal) walk
We (masc.) walk
We (fem.) walk
You (pl. masc.) walk
You (pl. fem.) walk
You (plural) walk
They (masc.) walk
They (fem.) walk
ER - Comer
You (formal) eat
We (masc.) eat
We (fem.) eat
You (pl. masc.) eat
You (pl. fem.) eat
You (plural) eat
They (masc.) eat
They (fem.) eat
IR - Escribir
You (formal) write
We (masc.) write
We (fem.) write
You (pl. masc.) write
You (pl. fem.) write
You (plural) write
They (masc.) write
They (fem.) write
In order to conjugate a verb, you first need to identify the verb “stem.” The stem is the part of the verb that, in most cases, remains constant.
Find the stem by taking the infinitive of the verb and removing the –ar, -er, or –ir ending.
Now that you have the stem by itself, consult the table of verb endings and add the appropriate one, according to who is performing the action.
Using Two Verbs in a Row
When two verbs are used consecutively without changing the subject, the second verb is usually written in the infinitive form.
Tú necesitas estudiar para la prueba.
You need to study for the exam.
Espero terminar pronto.
I hope to finish soon.
Los niños necesitan descansar esta semana.
The children need to rest this week.
When Something Isn’t Happening: Negative Sentences
To convert a sentence into a negative form in Spanish, all you need to do is add the word “no” immediately before the conjugated verb.
No vamos a terminar pronto.
We are not going to finish soon.
Ella no necesita estudiar para la prueba.
She does not need to study for the test.
Yo no soy piloto de aviones.
I am not an airplane pilot.
Be careful that you add the “no” before the conjugated verb—not the infinitive or subject.
¡No ella necesita! (incorrecto) - ¡Ella no necesita! (correcto)
In this section you’ve begun to learn about verbs, their endings, and use in the present tense.
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