Present Tense Verb forms

There are three types of verbs in Spanish: verbs ending in -ar, verbs ending in -er and verbs ending in -ir. Textbooks usually begin by introducing the present tense verb conjugations for AR verbs and that’s what we’ll do here.

Present Tense Forms of Regular AR Verbs

Regular AR verbs are conjugated by removing the –ar ending and replacing it with a new ending that corresponds to the subject of the verb. We’ll use hablar (to speak) as our model. Pay close attention to the endings in bold as these will be used to conjugate all regular AR verbs.

HABLAR (to speak; to talk)

Subject Pronoun* Verb Conjugation English
yo hablo I speak
hablas you speak
usted habla you speak
él (ella) habla (s)he speaks
nosotros(as) hablamos we speak
vosotros(as) habláis you all speak
ustedes hablan you all speak
ellos(as) hablan they speak
* I am using subject pronouns for brevity. You will use these same verb forms even if the subject is named and no pronoun is used (e.g. “John speaks” instead of “he speaks” or “María and I speak” instead of “we speak”).

In order to decide which form of hablar to use in a sentence, you will simply determine who the subject of the sentence is, remove the –ar ending, and replace it with the appropriate ending according to the above chart. That’s all there is to it! Let’s look at a few examples so that you can see how this works in the context of a complete sentence.

Verb Spanish Example English
caminar (to walk) Yo siempre camino a la biblioteca después de clase. I always walk to the library after class.
cantar (to sing) Juan canta muy bien. Juan sings very well.
dibujar (to draw) Los niños dibujan animales en la pizarra. The children draw animals on the chalkboard.
estudiar (to study) Yo estudio español. I study Spanish.
llegar (to arrive) Miguel y José siempre llegan a tiempo. Miguel and Jose always arrive on time.
viajar (to travel) Mi familia y yo viajamos a Venezuela cada verano. My family and I travel to Venezuela each summer.

Using the chart for hablar as a model, you should now be able to conjugate all regular AR verbs and use them in complete sentences.

Present Tense Forms of Regular ER verbs

For regular ER verbs, you have to memorize a slightly different set of endings but the basic idea is the same. Let’s look at the present tense forms of the verb comer (to eat).

COMER (to eat)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conjugation English
yo como I eat
comes you eat
usted come you eat
él (ella) come (s)he eats
nosotros(as) comemos we eat
vosotros(as) coméis you all eat
ustedes comen you all eat
ellos(as) comen they eat

Now you can conjugate all regular ER verbs. Here are several complete sentences containing regular ER verbs.

Verb Spanish Example English
beber (to drink) Juan bebe té. Juan drinks tea.
comprender (to understand) Yo no comprendo la lección. I do not understand the lesson.
correr (to run) Mis hijos no corren en la casa. My kids do not run in the house.
vender (to sell) María y yo vendemos carros. María and I sell cars.

Present Tense Forms of Regular IR Verbs

Finally, let’s look at how to conjugate regular IR verbs. We’ll use the verb vivir (to live) as our model.

VIVIR (to live)

Subject Pronoun Verb Conjugation English
yo vivo I live
vives you live
usted vive you live
él (ella) vive (s)he lives
nosotros(as) vivimos we live
vosotros(as) vivís you all live
ustedes viven you all live
ellos(as) viven they live

Here are some complete sentences containing verbs ending in –ir.

Verb Spanish Example English
compartir (to share) Ellos no comparten su dinero. They do not share their money.
escribir (to write) Yo escribo un poema cada noche. I write a poem each night.
recibir (to receive) Nosotros recibimos muchas cartas. We receive a lot of letters.

Gustar: A Special Case AR Verb

The verb gustar means to like but a more literal translation is to be pleasing to. This means that what is liked is actually the subject of sentences with gustar. Because of this, you will normally only use the third person singular (gusta) and third person plural (gustan) forms of this verb. Use gusta to say that someone likes one thing. When you want to say that someone likes more than one thing, you’ll use gustan. Also, gustar will be preceded by an indirect object pronoun which will indicate who it is that likes something. Follow the patterns in the examples below so that you can confidently talk about what you or someone else likes or dislikes in Spanish. Be sure to review these carefully as teachers love to ask about likes and dislikes in class discussions.

How to say someone likes one thing:

Me gusta la clase de español. I like Spanish class.
¿Te gusta la comida mexicana? Do you like Mexican food?
A Juan no le gusta jugar al fútbol. Juan does not like playing soccer.
A Marta y a María les gusta la historia. Marta and María like history.
Nos gusta el profesor. We like the teacher.
¿Os gusta la clase de francés? Do you all like the French class?
A mis amigos no les gusta la playa. My friends do not like the beach.

How to say someone likes more than one thing:

Me gustan las películas de aventuras. I like adventure movies.
¿Te gustan los restaurantes mexicanos? Do you like Mexican restaurants?
A Juan le gustan todos los deportes. Juan likes all sports.
A Marta y a María les gustan la historia y la biología. Marta and María like history and biology.
Nos gustan los profesores en este departamento. We like the teachers in this department.
¿Os gustan las computadoras portátiles? Do you all like laptop computers?
A mis amigos les gustan las montañas. My friends like the mountains.

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