Spanish Verb Conjugate
Spanish Verb Conjugate
Verb conjugation often seems overwhelming to people who are trying to learn Spanish because there are many more verb forms than there are in English. Conjugation in Spanish does involve a lot of memorisation, but your best bet is to take it slowly, and start with common verbs in the present tense. If you work at your conjugation, it won’t seem so difficult, and you will be speaking in the past perfect before you know it.
Verbs in Spanish are all composed of two parts, a stem and an ending. Take the common verb ‘hablar,’ for example. The stem is ‘habl’ and the ending is ‘ar.’ Another common verb is ‘comer,’ which is composed of the stem ‘com’ and the ending ‘er.’ In the case of ‘vivir,’ the stem is ‘viv’ and the ending is ‘ir.’ It’s very easy to separate the stem from the ending, because the ending of each verb is always two letters, and these two letters will always be ‘ar,’ ‘er,’ or ‘ir.’ Keep this in mind as we move on.
Conjugation refers to modifying a verb in order to indicate who is performing an action, and at what point in time. In English we can say “I eat,” when talking about ourselves, but if we are referring to our cousin Robert we say “he eats.” If we are talking about something Robert ate in the past, we say “he ate.” Notice how the word changes depending on who is performing the action, and at what point in time? The same thing is true of Spanish verbs, we just have to learn the different ways they change.
In order to conjugate verbs in Spanish, it is necessary to know some basic Spanish pronouns. These pronouns are words like ‘I,’ ‘you,’ or ‘they’ that refer to a person or a group of people. The Spanish pronouns you will need to memorise are as follows:
ustedes (you – plural)
In order to conjugate regular Spanish verbs, you simply need to change the ending depending on who you are referring to. Let’s take the ‘er’ verb ‘comer,’ which in its infinitive form means ‘to eat.’ In order to say “I eat,” you will need to say “yo como.” Notice how the ending of the verb changes from ‘er’ to ‘o.’ Now look at the list below to see how the ending of ‘comer’ changes depending on who is doing the eating.
yo como (I eat)
tu comes (you eat)
el/ella come (he/she eats)
ellos/ellas comen (they eat)
nosotros/nosotras comemos (we eat)
ustedes comen (you [plural] eat)
The good news is that these endings stay exactly the same for every regular Spanish verb that ends in ‘er.’ You take out the ‘er’ and add the appropriate ending depending on who is doing the action. The same is true of ‘ar’ and‘ir’ verbs, except they have their own endings. Look at the two lists below to see how to conjugate any regular ‘ar’or ‘ir’ verb, using the common verbs ‘hablar,’ ‘to talk,’ and ‘vivir,’ ‘to live,’ as examples.
yo hablo (I talk)
tu hablas (you talk)
el/ella habla (he/she talks)
ellos/ellas hablan (they talk)
nosotros/nosotras hablamos (we talk)
ustedes hablan (you [plural] eat)
yo vivo (I live)
tu vives (you live)
el/ella vive (he/she lives)
ellos/ellas viven (they live)
nosotros/nosotras vivimos (we live)
ustedes viven (you [plural] live)
The endings for these ‘ar’ and ‘ir’ verbs will stay the same, no matter what regular verb you’re trying to conjugate. So in the future, if you want to conjugate the verb ‘molestar,’ in order to say that your sister bothers you, you would remove the ‘ar’ ending and add ‘a.’ “Ella molesta a mi,” or “ella me molesta,” would be the complete phrase. Just by memorising these eighteen endings, six for each of the three kinds of regular verbs, you can conjugate the vast majority of Spanish verbs in the present tense. Unfortunately, not all verbs are regular. Some of the most common Spanish verbs, including ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ are irregular. Thus, in order to say “I am,” you would have to say “soy,” or “estoy.” Irregular verbs need to be memorised individually, but fortunately there aren’t many of them compared to regular verbs.
After learning to speak properly in the present tense, you can move onto the past and future tenses, and later to more complex tenses. If it seems difficult at first, don’t give up, because conjugation gets easier as you become used to the language. In each tense, it’s a simple matter of separating the stem of the verb from the ending, and replacing the ending with the appropriate suffix. If you realise this, you already have the groundwork for conjugation in your head, and you just need to practise and add to your knowledge.