Present Tense in Spanish

Spanish Grammar Rules: El Presente Indicativo


In Spanish, verbs are classified into three types.


Spanish Regular Verbs in Present Tense

With regular verbs in Spanish, only the ending part of that verb (the -ar, -er or -ir part) changes depending on who does the action. However, unlike English, there is a different ending for each subject (pronoun).

To begin, we will show you how to conjugate the verb in the present tense:

(Notice how the part of the verb in red is the part that changes)

Present Tense Verbs in Spanish - Conjugation

Before you continue reading, make sure you know about Subject Pronouns in Spanish (yo, tú, él etc.).

If you have the verb Hablar (to speak) and you want to say "I speak". You just remove the last two letters of the verb (in this case remove the -ar) and add the letter -O to the end to create the conjugated verb Hablo which means "I speak".

Another example: if you want to say "They eat", we take the original verb, in this case Comer, we remove the ending (-er) and then add -EN to the end (because ellos = they). We now have Comen (they eat).

You will notice that certain verb endings are repeated. For example for YO (I) we take off the ending for all regular verbs and add the -O to the root (main part) of the verb.

Also see how the only difference between -ER verbs and -IR verb endings is when we use nosotros (we) and vosotros (you/plural/informal).

The subject pronoun (yo, tú, nosotros etc.) is often omitted before the verb since we normally know who the subject (the person doing the action) is because of the verb's ending.

For example: If you say "Hablamos español" (we speak Spanish). You don't need to put the pronoun nosotros before the verb because we know that when we say hablamos, it refers to nosotros (we). So often you will hear or just read "Hablamos español" without the pronoun nosotros.


Spanish Irregular Verbs in Present Tense

The following verbs are only irregular in the first person (singular). The rest of the conjugations are as normal (see regular verbs above).

I.- First Person Verbs ending in -Y

The following verbs are a part of this group: Estar (to be) - Dar (to give)

Subject Estar
Yo estoy
estás
Él está
Ella está
Usted está
Nosotros / Nosotras estamos
Vosotros / Vosotras estáis
Ellos / Ellas están
Ustedes están

II.- First Person Verbs ending in -GO

The following verbs are a part of this group: Hacer (to do) - Poner (to put) - Salir (to go out) - Valer (to cost/be worth)

Subject Hacer
Yo hago
haces
Él hace
Ella hace
Usted hace
Nosotros / Nosotras hacemos
Vosotros / Vosotras hacéis
Ellos / Ellas hacen
Ustedes hacen

III.- First Person Verbs ending in -ZCO

Verbs that end in -cir and -cer change to -zco in third person. The following verbs are a part of this group: Conducir (to drive) - Conocer (to know) - Traducir (to translate)


Subject Conducir
Yo conduzco
conduces
Él conduce
Ella conduce
Usted conduce
Nosotros / Nosotras conducimos
Vosotros / Vosotras conducís
Ellos / Ellas conducen
Ustedes conducen

Remember these verbs are only irregular in the first person (singular), the rest of the verb has the same rules as regular present tense conjugations.


Spanish Verbs that have Stem Changes

There are four types of verbs where the stem of the verb is irregular and changes. In the present tense these are verbs that change their stem from O to UE, from U to UE, E to IE, and E to I. Note that this stem change does not happen when the verb is for nosotros o vosotros (these maintain the original stem of the verb).

I.- Stem changes from O to UE

The letter "O" in the stem of the infinitive verb changes to "UE" in the conjugations.

Subject Almorzar
Yo Almuerzo
Almuerzas
Él Almuerza
Ella Almuerza
Usted Almuerza
Nosotros / Nosotras Almorzamos
Vosotros / Vosotras Almorzáis
Ellos / Ellas Almuerzan
Ustedes Almuerzan

II.- Stem changes from E to IE

The letter "E" in the stem of the infinitive verb changes to "IE" in the conjugations.

Subject Sentir
Yo siento
sientes
Él siente
Ella siente
Usted siente
Nosotros / Nosotras sentimos
Vosotros / Vosotras sentís
Ellos / Ellas sienten
Ustedes sienten

III.- Stem changes from E to I

The letter "E" in the stem of the infinitive verb changes to "I" in the conjugations.

Subject Pedir
Yo pido
pides
Él pide
Ella pide
Usted pide
Nosotros / Nosotras pedimos
Vosotros / Vosotras pedís
Ellos / Ellas piden
Ustedes piden

IV.- Stem changes from U to UE

The letter "U" in the stem of the infinitive verb changes to "UE" in the conjugations. Note that the verb Jugar is the only verb that is irregular in this way.

Subject Jugar
Yo juego
juegas
Él juega
Ella juega
Usted juega
Nosotros / Nosotras jugamos
Vosotros / Vosotras jugáis
Ellos / Ellas juegan
Ustedes juegan

Next Activities

Try our interactive games to practice the present tense in Spanish:

Present Tense Games
Present Tense Regular Verbs ending in -AR
Present Tense Regular Verbs ending in -ER
Present Tense Regular Verbs ending in -IR
Present Tense Irregular Verbs ending in -AR
Present Tense Irregular Verbs ending in -ER
Present Tense Irregular Verbs ending in -IR

See our notes written in Spanish about the Present Tense (El Presente Indicativo)


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