Spanish verbs can be difficult to learn, or rather learning the conjugation of Spanish verbs is. Difficult or not, the learning of Spanish verbs is unavoidable as they are an integral part of the Spanish language as are verbs in English or any language for that matter.
But which verb should we deem the most important in the Spanish language?
Spanish verbs are probably the most difficult and the most complex areas of the Spanish Language. Spanish verbs are split into 3 main groups, verbs that end in ‘-ar‘, ‘-er‘ and ‘-ir‘, each of the verbs in these verb groups has multiple endings to indicate who or what is performing an action and when.
There are also numerous irregular verbs that follow their own specific verb pattern that must also be learned and many of these are amongst the most commonly used verbs such as, ‘ser‘ – ‘to be‘ and, ‘tener‘ – ‘to have‘.
The complexities do not stop there because there are 16 different tenses that are each conjugated differently, these 16 tenses are split into 8 simple tenses and 8 perfect (compound) tenses and it is the perfect tenses that should give you a clue as to the verb many, including myself, deem to be the most important verb in Spanish.
There are four distinct types of Spanish verb and they are; regular, irregular, reflexive and auxiliary and there is one specific auxiliary verb that is used with the past participle of every single verb in Spanish in each of the 8 perfect tenses.
The verb I’m referring to is, ‘haber‘ meaning ‘to have’.
Understanding, and knowing, the various conjugations of ‘haber‘ will make it possible to use verbs more extensively. The perfect tenses are those tenses that describe a completed task, for example: ‘I have been’; ‘I had been’; ‘I was’; ‘I will have been’ and, ‘I would have been‘, are all perfect tenses that will use ‘haber‘ as an auxiliary verb.
In Spanish, the perfect tenses are formed by using ‘haber‘, followed by the past participle (el participio in Spanish). In English, the participle typically is formed by adding ‘-ed‘ to the end of verbs; the Spanish participle, which has origins related to the English participle, typically is formed by adding ‘-ado’ for ‘-ar’ verbs and ‘-ido’ for ‘-er’ and ‘-ir’ verbs.
The verb tense in the perfect tenses is decided by which simple tense of ‘haber‘ is being used: for example if we said: ‘I have eaten’ and ‘I will have eaten‘ the only way to distinguish between the two would be the tense of the auxiliary verb being used; ‘I have eaten’ = ‘he comido’ and ‘I will have eaten’ = ‘habré comido’.
It isn’t feasible to show the complete conjugation of ‘haber‘ for each tense in Spanish as there are so many but the example below highlights how ‘haber‘ is used, using the past participle of the verb ‘andar‘, meaning ‘to walk‘, in the first person singular for each of the perfect tenses:
- Present Perfect – he andado – I have walked
- Pluperfect – había andado – I had walked
- Past Perfect – hube andado – I walked
- Future Perfect – habré andado – I will have walked
- Conditional Perfect – habría andado – I would have walked
- Present Perfect – haya andado – I have walked
- Pluperfect – hubiera or hubiese andado – I had walked
- Future Perfect – hubiera andado – I will have walked
So there you have it, ‘haber‘, is the most used verb in Spanish and as such rightfully earns the honor of being the most important Spanish verb. Obviously, the use of a full conjugation sheet for the verb ‘haber‘ would make the use of this auxiliary verb a great deal easier to understand … so why don’t you download or print off just such a sheet on this page about the Spanish verb haber.