Archive for Spanish Verb Tenses

Subjunctive Spanish Conjugation

Learning Subjunctive Spanish Conjugation is no different to learning the conjugation of verbs and tenses in the indicative, the difficulty is in knowing when you should use the subjunctive in Spanish, as it is rarely used by English speakers and is therefore often understood.

Below are tables containing all the regular subjunctive Spanish conjugation for the three different verb groups.

Please note that this post and the information in it deal only with REGULAR verbs, there are many irregular verbs in the subjunctive which are either dealt with in other posts or will be in the not too distant future.

For the following conjugations the regular Spanish verbs hablar (to speak), abrir (to open) and beber (to drink) will be used.

Present Subjunctive (Presente Subjunctivo)
Hablar Abrir Beber
yo hable abra beba
hables abras bebas
él/ella/usted hable abra beba
nosotros hablemos abramos bebamos
vosotros habléis abráis bebáis
ellos/ellas/ustedes hablen abran beban



Imperfect Subjunctive (Imperfecto Subjunctivo)

* The imperfect subjunctive has two different sets of endings, the first are those that use –ra and it those that should be normally used. The other set of endings use –se, these are generally used within literature

Hablar Abrir Beber
yo hablara/ase abriera/ese bebera/ese
hablaras/ases abrieras/eses beberas/eses
él/ella/usted hablara/ase abriera/ese bebera/ese
nosotros habláramos/ásemos abriéramos/esemos bebéramos/esemos
vosotros hablarais/aseis abrierais/eseis beberais/eseis
ellos/ellas/ustedes bablaran/asen abrieran/esen beberan/esen



Future Subjunctive (Futuro Subjunctivo)
Hablar Abrir Beber
yo hable abriere bebere
hables abrieres beberes
él/ella/usted hable abriere bebere
nosotros hablemos abriéremos bebéremos
vosotros habléis abriereis bebereis
ellos/ellas/ustedes hablen abrieren beberen

The Subjunctive Spanish conjugation of the present perfect, pluperfect and future perfect are all formed using the past participle of the verb being conjugated as they are in the indicative.

However, the preceding auxiliary verb haber does change as it uses the subjunctive variants of the same tense instead of the indicative:

Indicative: he bebado I have drank
Subjunctive: haya bebado I have drank

he’ being the present tense of haber in the indicative and ‘haya’ the present tense of haber in the subjunctive.

Preterite vs Imperfect in Spanish

When learning past tenses, Preterite vs Imperfect is a question that often causes a few problems for students learning Spanish verbs, and knowing which of these two past tenses to use, and when, can certainly be confusing. However, the following guidelines will provide you with a clear idea as to which tense, preterite or imperfect, should be used.

The Preterite Tense in Spanish

The preterite tense, sometimes referred to as the ”past historic, is used to explain completed actions in the past and will tell you what happened or, what somebody did at a particular time


  • Conduje el coche – I drove the car
  • Cerré la ventana – I closed the window

The Spanish Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense tells us what was going on, who was doing it or, who used to do it, over an indefinite period of time, with no beginning and no end.


  • Juan compraba el periódico todos los días – Juan used to buy the newspaper every day.
  • El hombre vendía coches – The man was selling cars.

Obviously, getting past the preterit vs imperfect issue is a lot easier when you have tools that will help you learn each tense well, in particular the preterit which has a high number of verbs that are irregular in this tense.

One such tool is called the Verbarrator, a recently developed downloadable software program that has had a remarkable impact on how students learn Spanish verbs, helping them to do so much more easily and much more quickly than ever before.

It’s worth checking out… The Verbarrator

For more information on using the preterite and imperfect in Spanish the links below will be of help.

Spanish Imperfect Tense

The Spanish imperfect tense is probably one of the easier tenses to learn due to the fact that there are only three verbs that are irregular in the imperfect tense and they are ser, ir and ver but before covering how the Spanish imperfect is conjugated lets first look at when we should use this frequently used past tense.

The Spanish imperfect tense refers to an action that happened in the past that is:

1. Indefinite: that is to say it has no definite start or end date.

2. Is a continuous or repeated action

3. Happened over a period of time

4. Began in the past but has continued into the present

Spanish Imperfect Tense Verb Endings

As well as only having three irregular conjugations to learn there are only two sets of endings as -er and -ir verbs both share the same endings. The Spanish imperfect is formed using the stem of the verb and the respective imperfect ending.

Hablarto speak: Regular Conjugation of an -ar verb in the Spanish Imperfect Tense

yo habl-aba I was talking
habl-abas You were talking
él, ella, usted habl-aba He/She/You was/were talking
nosotros/as habl-ábamos We were talking
vosotros/as habl-abais You were talking
ellos, ellas, ustedes habl-aban They/You were talking

Comerto eat: Regular Conjugation of an -er verb in the Spanish Imperfect Tense

Please note that the same endings are used for verbs ending in -ir.

yo com-ía I was eating
com-ías You were eating
él, ella, usted com-ía He/She/You was/were eating
nosotros/as com-íamos We were eating
vosotros/as com-íais You were eating
ellos, ellas, ustedes com-ían They/You were eating

Spanish Preterite – How to Conjugate the Preterite Tense in Spanish

The Spanish preterite is a past tense consisting of one word, compared with the Perfect which has two, the auxiliary verb and the past participle, here are the essential aspects of the Spanish preterite.

  • It is firstly a tense in one word both in Spanish and in English
  • It describes a single, completed action in the past: for example, ‘I said‘, ‘Paul spoke‘, ‘we ate‘ and so on.
  • What it is important to remember is it can be used in conversation just as well as in the narrative, which is the part outside the dialogue describing past actions.

Here are the endings for the Spanish preterite for each of the three groups of verbs; ar, er and ir.

Hablarto speak

yo hablé I spoke
hablaste You spoke
él, ella, usted habló He/She/You spoke
nosotros/as hablamos We spoke
vosotros/as hablastais You spoke
ellos, ellas, ustedes hablaron They/You spoke

Comerto eat

yo comí I ate
comiste You ate
él, ella, usted com He/She/You ate
nosotros/as comimos We ate
vosotros/as comisteis You ate
ellos, ellas, ustedes comieron They/You ate

Vivirto live

yo viví I lived
viviste You lived
él, ella, usted viv He/She/You lived
nosotros/as vivimos We lived
vosotros/as vivisteis You lived
ellos, ellas, ustedes vivieron They/You lived

The biggest problem with learning the Spanish preterite is the large number of irregular verbs that must be mastered. The most important and most commonly used of these irregular verbs are dar, estar, haber, hacer, poder, poner, querer, saber, tener, venir, ser, ir and decir.

Learning each of the conjugations for each of these verbs is not going to be easy but… a verb training tool, such as the Verbarrator, will not only provide you with the best possible help but it will also enable you to learn verb conjugation so much faster than if you were using traditional methods of study.

Take your first step towards mastering Spanish verb conjugation and check out this Verbarrator review, and you will then see how you and your studies can benefit greatly from using it.

The Spanish Subjunctive Explained

Spanish SubjunctiveThe subjunctive can be confusing to many English speaking students of Spanish due to the fact it is rarely used in English. I am assuming that, because you are reading this post on the subjunctive in Spanish, that you are probably familiar with the most commonly used verb mood which is the indicative.

The indicative is a verb mood that all of your initial verb studies would have been in and it is therefore considered the normal verb form as it indicates both action and state of being, there is also the distinct possibility that you may also be aware of the formation and use of the imperative mood which is used when giving commands {if not, an explanation can be found on this blog}. The Subjunctive, however, is used to express a wish, a strong emotional attitude, or an uncertainty.

In general, the subjunctive is a verb mood that is used to express an action or state of being in the context of the speaker’s reaction to it. It is often the case, although not always, that the subjunctive mood is used in dependent clauses introduced by que (which, that, who). It is common to use a subjunctive verb in sentences that express doubt, uncertainty, denial, desire/wish, commands, reactions or a strong emotional attitude to the sentence containing the subjunctive verb.

Here are some examples comparing the Indicative and Subjunctive:


  • Jose almuerza. (Jose is having lunch)


  • Wish= Espero que Jose almuerce. (I hope that Jose is having lunch)
  • Desire= Te ruego que almuerces (I beg you to have lunch)
  • Doubt= Dudo que Jose almuerce (I doubt that Jose is having lunch).
  • Indicative (statement of fact): Jose almuerza. (Jose is having lunch)
  • Indicative (statement of fact): Sé que Jose almuerza. (I know that Jose is having lunch)
  • Subjunctive (doubt): No es cierto que Jose almuerce. (It is uncertain that Jose is having lunch.)
  • Subjunctive (denial): No es verdad que Jose almuerce. (It is not true that Jose is having lunch)
  • Subjunctive (reaction): Estoy feliz que Jose almuerce. (I am happy that Jose is having lunchg)
  • Subjunctive (wish): Espero que Jose almuerce (I hope that Jose is having lunch)
  • Subjunctive (desire/wish): Prefiero que Jose almuerce (I prefer that Jose is having lunch).

When making formal commands the subjunctive is also used:

  • ¡Tenga Ud eso! (Have this!)

This is also the case when making informal commands that are negative:

  • ¡No almuerces! (Don´t have lunch!)

For commands that mean encouragement:

  • ¡Almorcemos! (Let’s have lunch!).

And after impressional statements:

  • Es necesario que/ insisto que Jose almuerce... (I insist that Jose has lunch).

Spanish Verb Tenses Explained!

Spanish Verb TensesSpanish verb conjugation is often referred to as the most difficult aspect of learning Spanish as conjugation can be very complex and highly irregular in some cases. What often gets overlooked are the Spanish verb tenses themselves which is surprising as it is very important to understand what tense should be used, how it is used and when it should be used.

Many students who have attacked the conjugation of Spanish verbs have done so without fully knowing about the various Spanish verb tenses they are conjugating in, this in itself, will not affect their ability to master verb conjugation but it does affect how they use their new skill. Hopefully the short glossary below will help to provide some necessary information about Spanish verb tenses:


Compound tenses are the group of tenses that consist of more than one element. In the Spanish language, compound tenses are formed by using the auxiliary verb and the past participle, for example: ha contestado which means, ‘he has answered‘.

Past Participle:

The past participle is the form of a verb that indicates a past or completed action or time and is used after the auxiliary verb ‘to have‘ in English and ‘haber‘ in Spanish, for example: abierto – ‘opened‘ in he abierto – ‘I have opened


The subjunctive is not a tense, as many students believe, but a mood. Although it exists in English it goes almost unnoticed as it almost always takes the same form as the indicative. However, in Spanish, it is widely used when expressing doubt, how a person feels about a possible action, feelings, and a wish, intent or command for a possible action.


As with the subjunctive the indicative is a mood. It is the most widely used mood and is used in ordinary, typical speech when making statements as in hablo – ‘I speak‘, ha venido – ‘he has come‘, estoy probando – ‘I am trying


The present tense is where pretty much every student begins and for good reason, it is the most commonly used tense and is used to express an action that is currently being undertaken. hablo I speak‘ or, ‘I am speaking


One of two simple past tenses in Spanish. The imperative is used to express a past action that has not been completed, that occured frequently or that took place over an indefinite period of time eg. decía – ‘I was saying


The other simple past tense used to express an action in the past which has been completed or occurred over a definite period of time, eg; dije – I said


Another past tense used to describe a completed past action. It comprises the auxiliary verb haber and the past participle, eg he visto – ‘I have seen


A past tense used to describe an action occurring in the past before another past action and is formed using the imperfect of haber and the past participle: había ido antes de que llegué – ‘he had gone before I arrived


One of the simpler tenses to understand, the future refers to an action that hasn’t happened yet but is expected: abriré mañana – ‘I will open tomorrow

Present Participle or ‘Gerund’:

Not used too much apart from when attached to the verb estar – ‘to be‘ in the present continuous tense. It is the equivalent of the English verb form that ends in -ing for example; escribiendo writing‘.

Present Continuous:

This tense is only used to describe actions that are actually taking place at the time of use, and is formed by using the present tense of the verb estar and the present participle: estoy escribiendoI am writing


The conditional tense does not refer to a particular period of time unlike the past, present and future tenses but instead it is used, as it’s name suggests, when a condition is involved but in Spanish it is often linked to the future tense hence why it is known both as el condicional and el futuro hipotético (the hypothetical future).

In English the conditional would be formed by using the auxiliary verb would…for example: ‘I would wash if I were dirty‘, but in Spanish it is rendered by a single verb form, eg; cerraría I would close


The imperative is a tense that is used when giving orders or suggestions..¡Escribe! – Write!

That should help you for the time being, however, should you need further information about any of the tenses above simply check out the many pages and posts available on this site.

However, if you are struggling with Spanish verb conjugation may I suggest checking out my review of the Verbarrator. It’s a fantastic verb training program as my review explains so what you waiting for…check it out

Spanish Future Tense Conjugation

Spanish Future TenseThe Spanish future tense is one of those rare tenses in Spanish that is reasonably uniformed in its conjugation as there are very few verbs that are actually irregular.

Even more surprising is that those verbs that are irregular, are not too difficult to learn as they each follow a distinctive pattern, more about that shortly however, as we will first take a look at how regular verbs are conjugated in the future tense.

Unlike many of the other Spanish tenses, all verbs, whether they are -ar, -er or -ir verbs, use the same endings. These endings are attached to the infinitive of each verb.

Hablar – ‘to speak

  • hablaré I will speak
  • hablarás you will speak
  • hablará he, she or it will speak
  • hablaremos we will speak
  • hablaréis you will speak (plural)
  • hablarán they will speak

This conjugation applies to all verbs in Spanish as already mentioned but there are a small number of irregular verbs that are used frequently. All of these irregular verbs use the same endings as used for regular verbs and their irregularities are stem changes.

The irregular verbs in the future tense, accompanied by the irregular stem change are:

  • caber to fit‘ or ‘to be possible‘ – caber becomes cabr
  • decir to say‘ – decir becomes dir
  • haber to have‘ – haber becomes habr
  • hacer to do‘ or ‘to make‘ – hacer becomes har
  • poder to be able to‘ or ‘can‘ – poder becomes podre
  • poner to put‘ – poner becomes pondr
  • querer to want‘ – querer becomes querr
  • saber to know‘ – saber becomes sabr
  • salir to leave‘ – salir becomes saldr
  • tener to have‘ – tener becomes tendr
  • valer to cost‘ – valer becomes valdr
  • venir to come‘ – venir becomes vendr

Remember that the future tense for irregular verbs is formed exactly as for regular verbs and that the irregular stems are used instead of the full infinitive.

Irregular Past Tense Spanish Verbs – The Basics

Irregular Past Tense Spanish VerbsIt isn’t too long after starting to learn Spanish verb conjugation that a student encounters the Spanish past tenses. These Spanish past tenses are called the preterite and the imperfect and both are widely used and it is therefore extremely important to fully understand when to use each tense and how each is formed.

There are irregular Spanish verbs in both past tenses (surprise,surprise!), not too many in the imperfect, but the preterite does contain some of the most irregular conjugations of all the tenses, so be warned.

We will now take a look at each of these past tenses, explaining when they are used, regular formation for each of the verb groups and irregular verb variations.

The Imperfect Past Tense in Spanish

The imperfect tense is used to refer to actions in the past that occurred repeatedly such as,

  • I used to walk home every day – Caminaba cada día

It is also used to refer to actions in the past that happened over an extended period.

  •     I used to eat paella frequently – Comía frecuentemente paella

And for “setting the stage” for a past event.

  •     We were coming home when we saw Juan – Veníamos para casa cuando vimos a Juan

Non physical actions such as feelings and thoughts will also usually use the imperfect tense,

  •     Juan was feeling sick – Juan estaba enfermo

In Spanish there are two sets of regular verb endings for the imperfect tense, one is used for verbs ending in -ar and the other for verbs ending in -er and -ir, these endings rarely change even when used with irregular verbs and are as follows;

Enviar (to send)

  •     yo envi -aba (I was sending)
  •     tú envi -abas (you were sending)
  •     el/ella envi -aba (he/she was sending)
  •     nosotros envi -ábamos (we were sending)
  •     vosotros envi -abais (you were sending)
  •     ellos/ellas envi -aban (they were sending)

Tener (to have)

  •     yo ten -ía (I was having)
  •     tú ten -ías (you were having)
  •     el/ella ten -ía (he/she was having)
  •     nosotros ten -íamos (we were having)
  •     vosotros ten -íais (you were having)
  •     ellos/ellas ten -ían (they were having)

Decir (to say)

  •     yo dec -ía (I was saying)
  •     tú dec -ías (you were saying)
  •     el/ella dec -ía (he/she was saying)
  •     nosotros dec -íamos (we were saying)
  •     vosotros dec -íais (you were saying)
  •     ellos/ellas dec -ían (they were saying)

There are two exceptions to the regular pattern of the imperfect tense and they are the important verbs ‘ser‘ (to be) and ‘ir‘ (to go) which will both need to be thoroughly studied and they are conjugated as shown below;

Ser (to be)

  •     yo er -a (I was)
  •     tú er -as (you were)
  •     el/ella er -a (he/she was )
  •     nosotros ér -amos (we were)
  •     vosotros er -ais (you were)
  •     ellos/ellas er -an (they were)

Ir (to go)

  •     yo ib -a (I was going)
  •     tú ib -as (you were going)
  •     el/ella ib -a (he/she was going)
  •     nosotros íb -amos (we were going)
  •     vosotros ib -ais (you were going)
  •     ellos/ellas ib -an (they were going)

The Preterite Past Tense in Spanish

The preterite tense is used frequently and is used to describe past actions that are seen to be completed. As with the Imperfect tense the stem of the verb is used with the tense endings and, as with the imperfect, there are two sets of endings, one for -ar verbs and the other for -ir and -er verbs.

Enviar (to send)

  •     yo envi -é (I sent)
  •     tú envi -aste (you sent)
  •     el/ella envi -ó (he/she sent)
  •     nosotros envi -amos (we sent)
  •     vosotros envi -asteis (you sent)
  •     ellos/ellas envi -aron (they sent)

Coger (to take)

  •     yo cog -í (I took)
  •     tú cog -iste (you took)
  •     el/ella cog -ió (he/she took)
  •     nosotros cog -imos (we took)
  •     vosotros cog -isteis (you took)
  •     ellos/ellas cog -ieron (they took)

Salir (to leave)

  •     yo sal -í (I left)
  •     tú sal -iste (you left)
  •     el/ella sal -ió (he/she left)
  •     nosotros sal -imos (we left)
  •     vosotros sal -isteis (you left)
  •     ellos/ellas sal -ieron (they left)

Unlike the imperfect tense there are a number of verbs that have irregularities in the formation of the preterite tense and to list them all along with their many differences would be too big a job for this article.

The most commonly used irregular past tense verbs in the preterite tense are;

All of which are very different and will each need learning individually unfortunately!

Spanish Past Tense – The Difference Between Imperfect and Preterite

Spanish Past TenseThe Spanish past tense throws up a problem for many students and that is whether they should use the imperfect tense or the preterite?

In Spanish, the two simple past tenses that are predominantly used, are called the Imperfect and the Preterite and it is perfectly understandable for students, who are learning about past tenses for the first time, to be unsure as to which of these two tenses to use and when.

It goes without saying that both tenses are used to describe past actions or states but each is used differently and the following rules will hopefully clear up any confusion.

When to Use the Preterite

The preterite tense is used to express an action that was completed at some time in the past, listed here are some specific uses and examples:

When referring to a series of actions in the past:

  • Me desayuné, limpié la casa y me fui a la estación – I had breakfast, cleaned the house, and went to the station.

When referring to the beginning or the end of a past event:

  • La fiesta empezó a las diez – The party began at 10:00

When referring to things that are seen as being complete:

  • Dejó el trabajo hace un año – You left the job a year ago

When to Use the Imperfect

The imperfect tense expresses an action or state  that was ongoing during the past and if it is uncertain whether it has been completed. Specific uses and examples are listed below:

To explain an action that a person did in the past habitually:

  • Cuando estábamos en el colegio, jugábamos al fútbol todos los jueves. – When we were at school, we used to play football every Thursday

To refer to an action without making reference to an end or a beginning:

  •  Mi mujer tenía dolores de cabeza frecuentes – My wife had frequent headaches

When referring to actions that were taking place simultaneously in the past:

  •  Mi hijo miraba televisión y mi hija cantaba – My son was watching television and my daughter was singing

When describing physical, emotional or mental states or conditions:

  •  Estaba tan feliz que quería llorar – I was so happy that I wanted to cry

When referring to a past time:

  • Eran las ocho y media de la tarde – It was 8:30 p.m.
  • Era la una de la mañana – It was 1:00 a.m.

When describing an action or state that happened at some point in the past and that lasted for a certain amount of time and that happened prior to another past action.

  • Hacía todo el día que esperando cuando mi mujer llegó – I had been waiting all day when my when arrived

Hopefully, these guidelines will provide the clarity you need.

Spanish Preterite Tense Verbs

Spanish Preterite Tense VerbsUsing Spanish preterite tense verbs correctly is something that every student of Spanish should know how to do, and do well, as the preterite is probably the most widely used of all past tenses in Spanish.

However, the difficulty that many students face when learning the conjugation of verbs in the preterite tense is that there are large number of irregular verbs to master, many of which are an absolute necessity for use in day to day conversational Spanish.

If you are just starting out however, you should not concern yourself with the intricacies surrounding the conjugation of irregular verbs and first concentrate on mastering the basic preterite conjugation of regular verbs, and that is what will be covered here.

So, here are examples of three regular Spanish verbs, one from each of the three verb groups, conjugated in the preterite tense.

Hablar – to speak

  • hablé – I spoke
  • hablaste – you spoke
  • habló – he/she spoke
  • hablamos – we spoke
  • hablasteis – you all spoke
  • hablaron – they spoke

Abrir – to open

  • abrí – I opened
  • abriste – you opened
  • abrió – he/she opened
  • abrimos – we opened
  • abristeis – you all opened
  • abrieron – they opened

Beber – to drink

  •     bebí – I drank
  •     bebiste – you drank
  •     bebió – he/she drank
  •     bebimos – we drank
  •     bebisteis – you all drank
  •     bebieron – they drank

You may have noticed that the endings for the ‘-er‘ and ‘-ir‘ regular verbs are the same, which does make learning them a little easier.