Archive for irregular Spanish verbs

An Introduction to Spanish Verb Conjugation and Irregular Spanish Verbs

Irregular Spanish VerbsFor the simplest way to describe and understand what a verb is we must venture back to when we first attended elementary school. It was back then that many of us were first told that a verb is simply a ‘doing’ word and that it is a vitally important part of every sentence in every language in every part of the world.

Words like speak, learn, eat, run and read are all verbs, and in Spanish they are very easy to learn whilst in their infinitive forms, but it isn’t until the verb is in its numerous conjugated forms that learning Spanish verbs starts to become much more difficult, and irregular Spanish verbs in particular can prove to be very hard to learn for many people.

The correct use of verb conjugation and tense is the most important factor in making sense out of a sentence, using the wrong conjugation or the wrong tense can completely change the meaning of a sentence and will make it very difficult to figure out who or what is performing the action and when that action is taking place.

In Spanish, all verbs are first learned in their infinitive form. Spanish verbs are divided into three groups : the ‘ar’ verbs, ‘er’ verbs and ‘ir’ verbs. Quite simply, every Spanish verb will have one of these endings. The vast majority of Spanish verbs end in ‘ar‘, followed by ‘er‘ and then ‘ir‘.

Each of these verb groups, the -ar, -er and -ir verbs has a specific pattern of conjugation that is applied to the verbs of each group, although there are exceptions but more on these in a moment. Verbs that follow any of these three patterns of conjugation are called REGULAR verbs. Regular verbs are relatively easy to learn since once the various conjugations for a specific group has been learned it is basically a case of applying those same endings to the stem of any regular verb from that group.

By the way…in Spanish, verbs are made up of two parts; the ‘stem’ and the ending ‘-ar’,’-er’ or ‘-ir’. The stem is basically the verb and the ending is the Spanish equivalent to the English ‘to‘.

Spanish Verb HablarFor example, the regular verb, ‘hablar‘ meaning ‘to speak‘ in English, is broken down thus: ‘habl-‘ is the stem of the verb and ‘-ar‘ is the equivalent to the English ‘to‘.

However, now we’re going to talk about the exceptions to the rules which are verbs that break from the normal conjugation patterns. These verbs are known as irregular Spanish verbs, and they are not quite as easy to master as their regular counterparts, in fact they can be really difficult at times.

As mentioned, irregular verbs do not follow the common patterns of conjugation followed by regular verbs hence why they are called ‘irregular’. Unfortunately, the most commonly used verbs in Spanish are often irregular, however, this is also the case in most other languages too, including English, and this is why they will be encountered very early on in your studies.

The biggest plus for the student is that even though irregular verbs are undoubtedly more difficult to learn, they will be used a lot more often than regular verbs and because of this they will become etched into a students’ memory much more quickly. This is why there is just one way to learn irregular verbs successfully and that is with constant use and much practice.

It’s a fact that learning Spanish verb conjugation is the main stumbling block that forces many students to settle for speaking ‘pigeon Spanish’ rather than mastering the language properly. This is compounded by the widespread use of Spanish courses that do not devote an adequate amount of time to verb training. What that means is that the time it takes to learn and eventually master Spanish verbs depends a great deal upon the individual effort of the student and the methods he or she uses.

There are two things a student needs in order to successfully train themselves in verb conjugation and they are an effective verb training program which will help to quickly learn those difficult irregular verbs and a good verb conjugation book for fast and accurate reference.

I have personally compiled an irregular Spanish verb conjugation book, that can be downloaded within seconds and you can have your very own copy for only $2, which will go toward maintaining this site and you can read about it here.

The most important tool for verb training and one that will make the whole task of learning Spanish verbs a lot easier and a much more enjoyable experience is a verb conjugation trainer and you can read my review of one of the most popular training programs here. If you are struggling with Spanish verbs then these two should definitely be checked out.

Also, to help you with any immediate issues, I have provided conjugation sheets along with information for the most commonly used Irregular Spanish Verbs and you can find these by following the links in the sidebar.

I hope you enjoy my site and find it beneficial to your studies. Please spread the word on twitter, Facebook or any of the other social networks you might use.

Mucho Gracias y Hasta Luego
Daniel Major

How to Conjugate Decir Preterite Tense

DECIR is an irregular stem changing Spanish verb.

The conjugation table below shows Decir preterite conjugation clearly with the stem of Decir, DECchanging to DIJ in all forms.

Decir Preterite Conjugation

yo dije I came
dijiste You came
él, ella, usted dijo He/She/You came
nosotros/as dijimos We came
vosotros/as dijisteis You came
ellos, ellas, ustedes dijieron They/You came

Conjugation of Venir Preterite Tense

VENIR which means ‘to come‘ in Spanish is a highly irregular verb in every tense, with the exception of the imperfect.

Venir preterite conjugation is what is known as a stem changing irregular verb as are so many other verbs that are irregular in the preterite.

In Venir’s case the stem is ‘VEN’, in the preterite tense however this stem changes to ‘VIN’ and this is shown clearly in the table below.

Venir Preterite Conjugation

yo vine I came
viniste You came
él, ella, usted vino He/She/You came
nosotros/as vinimos We came
vosotros/as vinisteis You came
ellos, ellas, ustedes vinieron They/You came

Saber Preterite Tense Conjugation

The Spanish verb Saber meaning ‘to know‘ is irregular in all but the imperfect tense.

Saber preterite conjugation is, like so many other irregular verbs in the preterite, a stem changing conjugation. Saber’s stem of ‘sab’ changes to ‘sup’ as highlighted in the table below.

Saber Preterite Conjugation

yo supe I knew
supiste You knew
él, ella, usted supo He/She/You knew
nosotros/as supimos We knew
vosotros/as supisteis You knew
ellos, ellas, ustedes supieron They/You knew

Querer Preterite Tense Conjugation

The Spanish verb Querer meaning ‘to want‘ is frequently used and is also irregular in all but the imperfect tense. Querer preterite conjugation is a stem changing irregular tense as the stem of querer changes from ‘quer’ to ‘quis’ as detailed in the table below.

Querer Preterite Conjugation

yo quise I wanted
quisiste You wanted
él, ella, usted quiso He/She/You wanted
nosotros/as quisimos We wanted
vosotros/as quisisteis You wanted
ellos, ellas, ustedes quisieron They/You wanted

Poner Preterite Tense

The Spanish verb Poner meaning ‘to put’ is yet another frequently used Spanish verb that is extremely irregular.

Poner preterite tense conjugation is quite different in its irregularity compared to the other indicative tenses as the stem ‘pon’ changes to ‘pus’ as shown in the table below.

Poner Preterite Tense Conjugation

yo puse I put
pusiste You put
él, ella, usted puso He/She/You put
nosotros/as pusimos We put
vosotros/as pusisteis You put
ellos, ellas, ustedes pusieron They/You put

Conjugating Poder Preterite Tense

Poder, the Spanish verb meaning ‘to be able to’ or ‘can’, is a highly irregular verb that is used frequently and is therefore important to know, poder preterite is no exception and the conjugation is covered below.

Before going over the conjugation of poder preterite you would be wise to read about a verb training program that will not only help you learn verb conjugation better but will help you do so much quicker too, just follow this link to learn more about the Verbarrator!

Poder in the Preterite Tense

yo pude I was able to
pudiste You were able to
él, ella, usted pudo He/She/You was/were able to
nosotros/as pudimos We were able to
vosotros/as pudisteis You were able to
ellos, ellas, ustedes pudieron They/You were able to

How to Conjugate Haber Preterite Tense

Conjugating haber, or rather knowing how to conjugate haber, in all tenses is very important as haber’s primary use in Spanish is as an auxiliary verb and as such it will be used a great deal when using the perfect tenses of all verbs.

However, this particular post will cover the conjugation of haber preterite tense which is highly irregular.

Before checking out the conjugation of haber preterite you should first consider for a moment how many verbs and various conjugations you will need to be proficient at using to be a fluent Spanish speaker and then you will realize the enormity of the task ahead of you!

This is why you need to take note of any learning/study aids that become available that will make the task of learning Spanish verbs much easier and quicker. One such tool is the Verbarrator and if you are serious about learning Spanish I strongly urge you to check it out.

Haber in the Preterite Tense

yo hube I had
hubiste You had
él, ella, usted hubo He/She/You had
nosotros/as hubimos We had
vosotros/as hubisteis You had
ellos, ellas, ustedes hubieron They/You had

How to Conjugate Dar Preterite Tense

Learning how to conjugate dar preterite tense can be difficult due to the fact that it is highly irregular but here is a table showing its different forms.

Dar in the Preterite Form

yo di I gave
diste You gave
él, ella, usted dio He/She/You gave
nosotros/as dimos We gave
vosotros/as disteis You gave
ellos, ellas, ustedes dieron They/You gave