Verbs

Verbs are words that describe an action, state of being, or occurrence. The usage of verbs in Spanish is quite complex and will take some time to master.

Verb Categories

There are three categories of verbs in the Spanish language, ar, er, and ir verbs. The examples use the following verbs to represent the different categories:

  • hablar - to speak
  • comer - to eat
  • vivir - to live

Verbs in Spanish have many different grammatical endings. Learning Spanish verbs can seem a bit daunting at first, but with a bit of practice, using the correct forms of the verbs will start to come naturally.

Present Tense

The present tense is used to indicate events that are currently happening, or to ask questions about current events, opinions, or asking permission. It is also used to express actions that take place regularly. The following table shows the present tense for the three categories of verbs.

hablar (speak) comer (eat) vivir (live)
yo hablo como vivo
hablas comes vives
usted habla come vive
él, ella habla come vive
nosotros hablamos comemos vivimos
vosotros habláis coméis vivís
ustedes hablan comen viven
ellos, ellas hablan comen viven

Here are a few more common regular verbs.

aprender to learn
beber to drink
escribir to write
jugar to play
llamar to call
nadar to swim
recibir to receive
subir to climb up
vender to sell

Examples

Here are some examples showing how to use Spanish verbs in the present tense.

Note: Subject pronouns are often omitted in Spanish.

Bebo un café. I drink coffee.
¿Vives en Madrid? Do you live in Madrid? (familiar singular)
Ellos comen la lasaña. They eat the lasagna.
Llegamos a la puerta. We are arriving at the gate.
Nunca me llaman por la mañana. They never call me in the morning.
Nado en la playa. I swim at the beach.
Alejandro vende su coche. Alejandro is selling his car.
Martín swims in the lake.
Martín nada en el lago.

To Be

In Spanish there are two words for the verb "be": estar and ser. Both of these verbs are irregular.

Ser

Ser is used to describe more permanent conditions, the location of an event, ownership, and also expressions of time. The following table shows the different forms of ser in the present tense.

yo soy I am
tú eres you are (singular familiar)
él/ella es he/she is
usted es you are (singular polite)
nosotros somos we are
vosotros sois you are (familiar plural)
ustedes son you are (formal plural)
ellas/ellos son they are (f/m)

Examples

La casa es roja. The house is red.
Él es de España. He is from Spain.
Son las cuatro de la mañana. It is four in the morning.
El concierto es en Barcelona. The concert is in Barcelona.
¿Eres tú ingeniero? Are you an engineer?
La idea es de Ana. It is Anna's idea.

Estar

Estar is used to describe location, health, and changing characteristics, such as mood or location. The following table shows the different forms of estar in the present tense.

yo estoy I am
tú estás you are (singular familiar)
él/ella está he/she is
usted está you are (singular polite)
nosotros estamos we are
vosotros estáis you are (familiar plural)
ustedes están you are (formal plural)
ellas/ellos están they are (f/m)

Examples

Estoy cansado. I am tired.
¿Estás cansado? Are you tired?
¿Está usted cansado? Are you tired? (polite)
Él está enfermo. He is sick.
Ella está en casa. She is at home.
El restaurante está en la ciudad. The restaurant is in the city.
Ellos están en el restaurante. They are in the restaurant.

More Irregular Verbs

There are many Spanish verbs that are irregular in the present tense. This section covers some of the more common ones.

Ir (to go)

The verb ir is very common and very irregular. The following table shows the different forms of ir in the present tense.

yo voy I go
tú vas you go (singular familiar)
él/ella va he/she goes
usted va you go (singular polite)
nosotros vamos we go
vosotros vais you go (familiar plural)
ustedes van you go (formal plural)
ellas/ellos van they go (f/m)

Examples

Voy al mercado. I'm going to the market.
¿Quieres ir conmigo? Do you want to go with me?

Tener (to have)

The Spanish verb tener means to have. The first e often changes to ie. This is a common pattern with Spanish verbs in the present tense. The following table shows the different forms of tener in the present tense.

yo tengo I have
tú tienes you have (singular familiar)
él/ella tiene he/she has
usted tiene you have (singular polite)
nosotros tenemos we have
vosotros tenéis you have (familiar plural)
ustedes tienen you have (polite plural)
ellas/ellos tienen they have (f/m)

Examples

The verb tener is often used where be is used in English.

Tengo miedo. I am afraid.
¿Tienes frio? Are you cold?
Pedro tiene hambre. Pedro is hungry.
Maria tiene sed. Maria is thirsty.
Tenemos prisa. We are in a hurry.
Tienen suerte. They are lucky.
¿Tienen éxito? Are they successful?
Usted tiene las llaves. You have the keys. (singular polite)
Sofía tiene una manzana.
Sofía tiene una manzana.

venir (to come)

The Spanish verb venir means to come. It is conjugated in a similar maner to tener. The following table shows the different forms of venir in the present tense.

yo vengo I come
tú vienes you come (singular familiar)
él/ella viene he/she comes
usted viene you come (singular polite)
nosotros venimos we come
vosotros venís you come (familiar plural)
ustedes vienen you come (formal plural)
ellas/ellos vienen they come (f/m)

Examples

Ella viene a las tres. She's coming at three.
Vengo de Ecuador. I'm from Ecuador.

dormir (to sleep)

The Spanish verb dormir means to sleep. In several forms of the present tense the o is changed to ue. There are many other verbs that follow this pattern. The following table shows the different forms of dormir in the present tense.

yo duermo I sleep
tú duermes you sleep (singular familiar)
él/ella duerme he/she sleeps
usted duerme you sleep (singular polite)
nosotros dormimos we sleep
vosotros dormís you sleep (familiar plural)
ustedes duermen you sleep (formal plural)
ellas/ellos duermen they sleep (f/m)

Examples

María duerme hasta las nueve. María sleeps until nine.
Duermo por ocho horas. I sleep for eight hours.
Sleeping Cat
El gato duerme.

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Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs are verbs whose subject and object refer to the same thing. In Spanish these verbs are used with reflexive pronouns. In the infinitive form of the verb, the reflexive pronoun is appended to the end of the verb. The following table shows the conjugation of reflexive verbs.

sentarse - to sit (oneself) down

yo me siento I sit down
tú te sientas you sit down
él se sienta he sits down
ella se sienta she sits down
usted se sienta you sit down (polite singular)
nosotros nos sentamos we sit down
ustedes se sientan you sit down (plural)
ellos/ellas se sientan they sit down

Note: The subject pronoun is usually omitted with reflexive verbs.

Common Reflexive Verbs

acostarse to go to bed
afeitarse to shave
bañarse to have a bath
cepillarse to brush oneself
despertarse to wake up
dormirse to fall asleep
ducharse to have a shower
lavarse to wash oneself
levantarse we get up early
llamarse to call oneself
peinarse to comb ones hair
ponerse to put on
quitarse to take off
secarse to dry off

Examples

Me llamo Martín. My name is Martin.
Me acuesto tarde. I go to bed late.
Se duermen temprano. They fall asleep early.
Se afeita por la mañana. He shaves in the morning.
Nos despertamos temprano. We wake up early.

Flashcards

This section contains flashcards to help you learn the present tense of Spanish verbs.

The Spanish Word Hay

In Spanish the word hay is used to say both there is and there are when used to indicate existence. When there is is used to emphasize the location of an object está allí is used instead.

Examples

Hay un libro sobre la mesa. There is a book on the table.
Hay dos libros sobre la mesa. There are two books on the table.
¿Hay un libro sobre la mesa? Is there a book on the table?
Hay muchos problemas. There are many problems.
El libro está allí. The book is there.
Los libros están allí. The books are there.

Note: Problema is one of the few masculine nouns in Spanish that ends in a.

Practice

Write the sentence using the present tense of the Spanish verb for the verb in parentheses.

Ana ___ una manzana. (eats)

___ una camisa nueva. (I have)

¿___ español? (Do they speak)

___ en el lago. (We swim)

Martín ___ un nuevo libro. (writes)

Quiz

This quiz covers the present tense of the verbs included in this lesson. You can take the quiz as many times as you'd like. Each time the questions will be a bit different.