Spanish Verbs Basics And Conjugations

by : Adolfo Garcia

When learning Spanish, understanding verbs is one of the hardest spots that people may come across. Spanish verbs differ from English verbs in a variety of ways. For instance, many verbs in Spanish express distinctions in meanings, and includes tenses such as the subjunctive, which do not exist in other languages including English. Above all, Spanish verbs convey information regarding when the action took place, and who performed that action in a single word. For example, in English, the subject is always specified before the verb, like “I write"; while in Spanish, the single word “Escribo (write)" contains all the information regarding the subject.

The infinitive of a verb in English is formed by adding the word “to", like in “to do", “to be" etc. The infinitive of a verb in Spanish, on the other hand, is indicated by –AR, -ER, and –IR, such as in “Estudiar (to study)", “Escriber (to write)", and “Comer (to eat)". Each type of Spanish verbs has a different group of endings – Yo; Tú; Ud., él, ella; Nosotros; Vosotros; and Uds., ellos, ellas. For example, the verb “escribir (to write)" may be ended with a o, es, e, emos, éis, and en, like in “escribo", “escribimos".

Any type of verb conjugation needs the “stem", which usually remains constant, to be identified first. In Spanish, the stem is formed by removing the AR, -ER, and –IR and taking the infinitive of the verb. For example, the stem for the verb “Escriber" becomes “Escrib". So, in order to conjugate the verb, the stem “Escrib" is used to say “Escribo (I write)", “escribes (you write)", “Escribos (we write)", and so on.

Note that many Spanish verbs are stem changing in every form except nosotros/as and vosotros/as. The three common types of stem changing verbs include ‘e’ to ‘ie’, ‘e’ to ‘i’, and ‘o’ to ‘ue. For example, in ‘e’ to ‘ie’, “Comenzar (to begin)" would be conjugated into “comienzo", “comienzas", and so on. Therefore, “I start the game" would be said “comienzo el juego", and “we start the game" as, “nosotros comenzamos el juego". There are also a few other rare stem changes besides the one mentioned above.

Certain verbs, such as “tener" and “venire", may also follow irregular verb ending patterns. So, in normal rules, the “yo" form of “tener" would be “teno", but it is not. Instead it becomes “tengo", “tienes"… “ten-éis", and so on.

In Spanish, when two verbs are used in reference to one subject in a single sentence, the second verb is usually written in the infinitive form. For example, “Espero trabajar pronto (I hope to work soon)". To say a sentence in the negative in Spanish is easy. All you need to do is add the word “no" right before the conjugated verb, as in “No Espero trabajar pronto (I do not hope to work soon)".