Present Tense Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs are verbs that do not follow the normal conjugation patterns and therefore must be memorized individually. What is frustrating for students is that the verbs that are most irregular are often very commonly used verbs. For example, ser, tener and ir are three very irregular verbs, which mean to be, to have and to go, respectively. Can you imagine trying to carry on a conversation without those three verbs? Since it is beyond the scope of this module to present all of the irregular verbs in Spanish, I have chosen to present the ones that are most commonly used in day-to-day conversation and most frequently found in first year Spanish textbooks. Let’s start with three highly irregular but commonly used verbs: ir, ser and estar.

IR (to go)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conjugation English
yo voy I go
vas you go
usted va you go
él (ella) va (s)he goes
nosotros(as) vamos we go
vosotros(as) vais you all go
ustedes van you all go
ellos(as) van they go

Here are a few complete sentence examples containing the verb ir.

Yo voy a clase a las tres. I go to class at three.
Maite va a Uruguay dos veces cada año. Maite goes to Uruguay twice each year.
Vamos a Francia cada verano. We go to France each summer.
¿Vas al parque los sábados? Do you go to the park on Saturdays?

The next two verbs, ser and estar, both mean to be but they are not interchangeable. Each verb is used to describe different states of being. The Ser vs Estar module discusses these differences. For now, take a look at how each verb is conjugated in the present tense:

SER (to be)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conjugation English
yo soy I am
eres you are
usted es you are
él (ella) es (s)he is
nosotros(as) somos we are
vosotros(as) sois you all are
ustedes son you all are
ellos(as) son they are

ESTAR (to be)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conjugation English
yo estoy I am
estás you are
usted está you are
él (ella) está (s)he is
nosotros(as) estamos we are
vosotros(as) estáis you all are
ustedes están you all are
ellos(as) están they are

Irregular Yo Form Verbs

As you might expect, these verbs have an irregularity in the yo form only. All other forms (tú, usted, nosotros, etc.) are conjugated normally. Let’s take a look at some of the most common irregular yo form verbs. Since only the yo form of these verbs is irregular, I will only show examples of this form.

Spanish Verb English Yo Form English
conocer to know conozco I know
dar to give doy I give
hacer to do; to make hago I do; I make
poner to put; to place pongo I put; I place
saber to know I know
salir to leave; to go out salgo I leave; I go out
traer to bring traigo I bring
ver to see veo I see

Remember: For all other forms besides yo, you’ll conjugate these verbs as taught in the regular present tense module. Here are several complete sentences containing irregular yo form verbs.

Yo hago toda la tarea pero mi hermano no hace nada. I do all the homework but my brother doesn’t do anything.
Yo salgo con María y Juan sale con Patricia. I go out with María and Juan goes out with Patricia.
Yo pongo mis papeles en una carpeta pero mi amigo pone sus papeles en su mochila. I put my papers in a folder but my friend puts his papers in his backpack.
Yo traigo las bebidas a nuestras fiestas y mis amigos traen la comida. I bring the drinks to our parties and my friends bring the food.

A Note about Saber and Conocer

Saber and conocer both mean to know but they are not interchangeable. Saber means to know facts or information or to know how to do something. Conocer means to know people or to be familiar with a place. Consider these examples:

Yo la respuesta. I know the answer.
Alicia sabe nadar. Alicia knows how to swim.
Susana sabe que no puedes venir. Susana knows that you cannot come.
Yo conozco a Marta Sánchez. I know Marta Sánchez.
Alberto conoce Buenos Aires. Alberto knows (is familiar with) Buenos Aires.

Now let’s look at two more highly irregular verbs: tener and venir. As you’ll see, these verbs share very similar irregularities.

TENER (to have) and VENIR (to come)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conj. (tener) English Verb Conj. (venir) English
yo tengo I have vengo I come
tienes you have vienes you come
usted tiene you have viene you come
él (ella) tiene (s)he has viene (s)he comes
nosotros(as) tenemos we have venimos we come
vosotros(as) tenéis you all have venís you all come
ustedes tienen you all have vienen you all come
ellos(as) tienen they have vienen they come

Notice that tener and venir have features of both stem-changing verbs and irregular yo form verbs. We’ll wrap up the section on irregular verbs with two more that you should know: decir and oír. Like tener and venir, these two verbs also have multiple irregularities that simply must be memorized.

DECIR (to say; to tell) and OÍR (to hear)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conj. (decir) English Verb Conj. (oír) English
yo digo I say oigo I hear
dices you say oyes you hear
usted dice you say oye you hear
él (ella) dice (s)he says oye (s)he hears
nosotros(as) decimos we say oímos we hear
vosotros(as) decís you all say oís you all hear
ustedes dicen you all say oyen you all hear
ellos(as) dicen they say oyen they hear

Here are several complete sentences containing the verbs tener, venir, decir and oír.

Tengo mucho dinero en el banco. I have a lot of money in the bank.
¿Tienes una copia del examen? Do you have a copy of the exam?
David viene a todos los conciertos. David comes to all the concerts.
Laura dice que no puede venir. Laura says that she can’t come.
Nosotros oímos ruidos extraños. We hear strange noises.

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