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Spanish verb review

GENERAL INFORMATION A verb is a word that shows action or a state of being. Every complete
sentence must have a verb. Spanish verbs are based in the infinitive. Spanish infinitives are divided
into three groups or conjugations:
-ar verbs
-er verbs
-ir verbs
Spanish infinitives and verb forms can be divided into two component parts: the stem--the part that
remains after removing the infinitive ending--and the ending--the part that is attached to the stem. Both
of these parts communicate vital information. For example:
ar (infinitive = "to")
what? -- meaning (speak)
who? -- person (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
how many? -- number (singular/plural)
when? -- tense (past/present/future)
how? -- mood (indicative, etc.)
The meaning of the verb is self-explanatory. In the example above habl means "speak, talk". Person
tells who is speaking or who is being spoken to or about. First person is the speaker, "I" in English, "yo"
in Spanish. Second person is the person(s) being spoken to, "you" in English, "tú, vosotros, usted,
ustedes" in Spanish. Third person refers to the person(s) or thing(s) being spoken about, "he, she, it,
they" in English, "él, ella, ellos, ellas" in Spanish. Number is simply singular or plural. For example, first
person singular
is "I" in English, "yo" in Spanish, while first person plural is "we" in English and
"nosotros, nosotras" in Spanish. T e n s e is simply another word for time. It can only be past, present or
future. Finally, mood indicates the tone or circumstances of the sentence. For example, the indicative
is used to indicate, state or ask information. The subjunctive mood is used to express doubt,
denial or uncertainty. The imperative mood is used for commands. The conditional mood
expresses the English equivalent of "would."
There is another verb feature called aspect. The perfect is used in compound tenses, formed by the
auxiliary verb haber and the past participle of the main verb, as in the verb phrase "I have studied",
"(yo) he comido" in Spanish. The imperfect is used to express past action that is ongoing, habitual or
continuous. Finally, a verb can be non-progressive--"hablo", or progressive--"estoy hablando."
It is the combination of these four factors--person, number, tense, mood that result in the more than
fifty forms each Spanish verb has. But, keep in mind the important role played by patterns in learning
these many verb forms. The key to mastering Spanish verbs is becoming familiar with the small number of
fairly consistent patterns, and not trying to memorize all forms of all verbs.
Another important characteristic that makes Spanish different from English is that Spanish verbs are
synthetic, whereas their English counterparts are paraphrastic. What this means is that Spanish
condenses or synthesizes information (often) into a single verb form that requires a verb phrase in
English. For example, "hablo" can mean "I speak, I do speak, I am speaking", depending on one's
intention or interpretation.
THE PRESENT INDICATIVE This tense is used to express or ask about action taking place in the
present, or action which takes place in general. There are five groups or patterns in this tense.
1. Regular Verbs. Remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, -ir) and attach one of the following
endings to the stem:
-ar verbs
-er verbs
-ir verbs
2. Irregular Verbs. Since there is no predictable pattern for these verbs' forms, they are
generally memorized:
ser - to be
estar - to be
haber - to have
3. Irregular First Person Singular Only (Yo Form) Verbs. All of the verbs in this group have
an inexplicably irregular "yo" form. All other forms of these verbs are regular. Note that
verbs marked with an asterisk (*) belong to more than one group:
yo form
4. Stem-change (shoe) Verbs. These verbs make predictable internal changes as noted below,
but still use the regular endings. For example:
cerrar (ie) - to close
sentir - to feeltener* - to havevenir* - to come elegir* - to electfreír* - to frypedir - to request, ask forreír* - to laughrepetir - to repeatseguir* - to follow, continueservir - to servesonreír* - to smile 5. Spelling-change Verbs. These verbs make somewhat predictable spelling changes, but still
use regular endings:
A. Verbs ending in -GER and -GIR: Change G to J to maintain the "soft g" sound in the yo
form only. Examples include:
B. Verbs ending in -GUIR: Drop the silent U to maintain the "hard G" sound in the yo form
only. Examples include:
C. Verbs ending in -UIR (but not -GUIR or -QUIR), and OÍR*: Change I to Y in the
"shoe" forms. Examples include:
construir - to constructcontribuir - to contribute destruir - to destroydistribuir - to distribute D. Verbs ending in -IAR, -UAR, and REUNIR: Accent I or U in the "shoe" forms.
Examples include:
E. Verbs ending in -EÍR: Accent i in all forms. Examples include:
refreír* - to reheat, sautereír* - to laugh THE PRETERIT (past indicative) The preterit is used to express simple, completed action in the past,
often associated with a "point" in time and translated as "-ed" in English. Words or time expressions often
calling for the preterit are ayer, anoche, anteanoche, esta mañana, el/la . pasado/a, hace
. días,
1. Regular Verbs.
2. Irregular Verbs.
ir - to go
ser - to be

dar - to give
ver - to see
3. New-stem Verbs. These verbs form a totally new stem and all take the following endings:
New-stem verbs fall into the following three categories: 4. Stem-change (loafer) Verbs. Most stem-change verbs are regular in the preterit. That is,
their stem vowel does not change. However, -ir stem-change verbs change O - U or E - I in
third persons only:
dormir (ue,u) - to sleep
pedir (i,i) - to request
Examples: mentir (ie,i), morir (ue,u), preferir (ie,i), repetir (i,i), sentir (ie,i),
servir (i,i), vestirse (i,i)
5. Spelling-change Verbs. Endings are regular, stems go through changes.
A. Verbs in -ZAR: change Z to C in the first person singular only.
Examples: almorzar, avergonzar, empezar
B. Verbs in -GAR: change G to GU in the first person singular only.
Examples: jugar, llegar, colgar, rogar
C. Verbs in -CAR: change C to QU in the first person singular only.
Examples: buscar, colocar, indicar, tocar
D. Verbs in -GUAR: place dieresis (ü) over U in the first person singular only.
Examples: averiguar, apaciguar, amortiguar
E. Verbs in -EER, -EÍR (I,I), -UIR, CAER, and OÍR: accent I in all forms (-EÍR verbs do
not accent I in -IERON); and change I to Y in third person singular andplural (except -EÍR).
Examples: caer, creer, leer, construir, huir, freír, reír, sonreír.
caí, caíste, cayó, caímos, caísteis, cayeron creí, creíste, creyó, creímos, creísteis, creyeron huí, huíste, huyó, huímos, huísteis, huyeron THE IMPERFECT The imperfect is used to: (1) express repeated, customary or habitual action in the
past (English "used to"); (2) express mental activity in the past; (3) describe in the past with no direct action
taking place (to set the scene); and (4) express a continued (ongoing) past action which is interrupted by
some other action (English "was" or "were" "-ing"); the latter verb will be in the preterite.
1. Regular Verbs.
2. Irregular Verbs.
ser - to be
ver - to see
THE PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE This tense is used to imply subjectivity. That is, there exists the
possibility that the action may or may not take place, usually expressed as a question, negative, feeling,
or command. Note the following examples:
Espero que vayan pronto. (I hope they leave soon.)
¿Es posible que llueva? (Is is possibly going to rain?)
No creen que yo pueda hacerlo. (They don't think I can do it.)
¡Hablen Uds. en voz baja! (Speak in a quiet voice!)
Most expressions calling for the subjunctive in Spanish have two subjects and two verbs, whose
clauses are separated by q u e , as in the first three examples above. However, if the subjects are the
same, the infinitive replaces the subjunctive:
Espero salir pronto. (I hope to leave soon.)¿Es possible comer ahora? (Is it possible to eat now?) 1. Regular Verbs. Remove the infinitive ending and use the opposite endings:
-er endings for -ar verbs and -ar endings for -er and -ir verbs.
-ar verbs
-er, -ir verbs
2. Irregular Verbs. There are only six unpredictable verbs in the present subjunctive:
ser - to be
dar - to give
haber - to have
saber - to know
estar - to be
3. Stem-change (shoe) Verbs. All "shoe" verbs use the above endings and go through the
same stem-changes (U-UE, O-UE, E-I,E-IE) as in the present indicative. However, "shoe" verbs
ending in -ir make additional changes of O-U and E-I in nosotros and vosotros (shoe verbs with
dormir (ue,u)
sentir (ie,i)
repetir (i,i)
duerma durmamos
duermas durmáis
sientas sintáis
repitas repitáis
4. Yo Form Verbs. You will recogize these verbs as having an irregular yo form in the present
indicative. In the present subjunctive, that same yo form is used as the stem, to which the
subjunctive endings are added. For example caber - to fit, has the irregular yo form q u e p o .
Simply drop the final -O and add the opposite endings: quepa, quepas, quepa,
quepáis, quepan.

Yo Form
5. Spelling-change Verbs. The forms of these verbs in the present subjunctive are similar to
their indicative counterparts, except that opposite endings are used.
A. Verbs ending in -GER and -GIR: Change G to J to maintain the "soft G" sound in
all forms.
B. Verbs ending in -GUIR: Drop the silent U to maintain the "hard G" sound in all
C. Verbs ending in -UIR (but not -GUIR or -QUIR).
D. Verbs ending in -IAR, -UAR, and REUNIR: Accent I or U in the "shoe" forms.
E. Verbs ending in -EÍR: Change E to I and accent I in the "shoe" forms.
THE FUTURE INDICATIVE The future tense in Spanish has two basic uses: To replace English "will"
or "shall" and to express probability. Note its use in the following examples:
--¿Qué hora es? --Serán las tres. (It's probably 3 o'clock.)
Un momento. Iré contigo. (Just a moment. I'll go with you.)
The forms of the future (and the conditional in the next section) use the entire infinitive or a
modified infinitive
plus the following endings:
1. Regular Verbs. Use the infinitive plus the above endings for -AR, -ER and -IR verbs.
For example:
Estudiaré para el examen mañana.
(I'll study for the test tomorrow.)
Los Gómez venderán su casa pronto.
(The Gomezes will probably sell their house soon.)
Recibirás mi respuesta esta tarde
(You'll receive my response this afternoon.)
2. Modified Infinitives. These groups are easily remembered as the "5-5-2" categories
according to their modification.
A. Verbs that change E or I to D:
B. Verbs that drop E:
C. Verbs that drop E and C:
THE CONDITIONAL The conditional mood is often taught immediately after the future because its
forms and uses are parallel. The conditional replaces English "would" or expresses past probability. For
¿Qué hora sería? (What time could it have been?)
Me dijiste que vendrías. (You told me you would come.)
Like the future tense, the conditional uses the infinitive or a modified infinitive, to which the
following endings (from the imperfect) are added:
THE PERFECT TENSES These compound tenses parallel English. They use a form of the auxiliary
verb haber - to have and the past participle of the main verb. Note the following examples:
Papá todavía no ha llegado. (Dad still hasn't arrived.)
Ellos ya habían comido. (They had already eaten.)
El avión ya habrá salido. (The plane has probably already left.)
1. Formation of the Past Participle. Past participles have several uses in Spanish, including
as adjectives, nouns, and part of the perfect tenses, in which case they always end in -O.
A. Regular Verbs. Verbs ending in -AR drop the infinitive ending and add -ADO.
Similarly verbs ending in -ER and -IR drop their infinitive ending and add -IDO.
For example:
B. Verbs ending in -AER, -EER, -EÍR, some -UIR, and OÍR.
Place a written accent over I. For example:
C. Irregular Verbs. The following verbs have irregular past participles which must be
2. Formation of the Perfect Tenses.
A. The Present Perfect. This tense uses the present indicative of HABER and is
used to relate an event in the past to the present. For example:
No tengo hambre porque ya he comido.
(I'm not hungry because I've already eaten.)
B. The Pluperfect. This tense uses the imperfect of HABER and relates an earlier
past event to the recent past. While there is a Preterite Perfect, this tense
suffices for uses in the past. Note:
Los alumnos no habían estudiado suficiente para la prueba.
(The students hadn't studied enough for the quiz.)
C. The Future Perfect. Use the future of HABER in this tense to relate future
actions or to express probability:
Todavía no lo habrán visto, ¿verdad?
(They probably haven't seen it yet, right?)
D. The Conditional Perfect. Use the conditional of HABER in this tense to relate past
No habrían ido allí. (They wouldn't have gone there.) E. The Present Perfect Subjunctive. This tense is uses the present
of HABER to express subjectivity:
Dudan que yo haya conquistado al enemigo.
(They doubt that I have defeated the enemy.)
F. The Pluperfect Subjunctive. Use the imperfect subjunctive of HABER to
express contrary to fact situations in the past:
Tú no habrías salido si yo te hubiera llamado antes.
(You wouldn't have left if I had called you earlier.)
THE IMPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE This tense is used to express contrary to fact statements in the
past, or when the verb in the main clause is in the past or conditional. Its formation is simplified by using
the third person plural (ellos) form of the preterite as the stem. Just remove the -RON of that
form and add the following endings:
The -SE forms are found primarily in literary works and have been replaced in contemporary use by the -RA forms. Here are some examples of the imperfect subjunctive: Era imposible que yo terminara a tiempo.
(It was impossible for me to finish on time.)
Mamá exigió que los hijos se acostaran temprano.
(Mom demanded that the children go to bed early.)
Review the third person plural (ellos) form of thepreterit when working with this tense.
T H E P R O G R E S S I V E T E N S E S These tenses parallel English in form, but not in use. That is, people
who translate directly from English to Spanish misuse or overuse this tense. The progressive is
composed of a form of E S T A R or a verb of motion, and the present participle of the main
, and emphasizes the ongoing or "right now" nature of the action. Observe the following examples:
No puedo hablar ahorita porque estoy estudiando.
(I can't talk right now because I'm studying.)
La niña entró llorando.
(The girl came in crying.)
Los médicos aún siguen buscando la causa de su muerte.
(The doctors are still looking for the cause of her death.)
The reason these forms are so often misued, especially with ESTAR, is because of the assumed one-to-one correspondence between ESTAR and the English forms of "being--is, am, are, .", and the present participle and English "-ing." Unless the ongoing nature of the action is being stressed, the indicative can often express the same idea: Saco mejores notas porque estudio más este año.
(I'm getting better grades because I'm studying more this year.) 1. Formation of the Present Participle.
A. Regular Verbs: Verbs ending in -AR drop the infinitive ending and add -ANDO.
Verbs ending in -ER and -IR add -IENDO to the stem:
B. Stem-change -IR Verbs: Several -IR verbs make an additional change of the stem
vowel of O-U or E-I before adding -IENDO:
C. Verbs ending in -AER, -EER, -UIR, and OÍR: Change the I of -IENDO to Y:
D. Irregular Verbs: The following verbs have unpredictable present participles which
must be learned by rote:
2. Formation of the Progressive Tenses.
A. With forms of ESTAR:
B. With Verbs of Motion:
COMMANDS Spanish commands are more complicated than English for three reasons: There are more
than one way of saying "you" in Spanish; some positive commands are different from their negative forms;
and two tenses are required, the subjunctive or the imperative. Look at the chart below to
understand these complications:
vamos a + inf.
no vamos a + inf.
The and vosotros forms are called familiar commands, the U d . and Uds. forms are formal
, and the nosotros forms are indirect commands, translated as "Let's ." Observe the
following examples of these various commands:
No hables en voz tan alta. (Don't speak so loudly.)
Toma tu sombrero y póntelo. (Take your hat and put it on.)
Ud. más despacio, por favor. (Read slower, please.)
Vamos a bailar. or Bailemos. (Let's dance.)
Clase, no se vayan Uds. todavía. (Don't leave yet.)
V e n i d compañeros. Sentaos. (Come in friends. Sit down.)
Notice from some of the above examples that two rules about pronouns apply depending on the command forms: In front of positive commands and attached to the rear of negative forms.
1. Positive Familiar Commands. These are the and vosotros forms telling someone with
whom you are informal to do something.
A. Regular Verbs: For , simply use the third person singular form of the
present indicative
(see pp. 2-4).
For vosotros, simply replace the -R of the infinitive with a D for all verbs. However, if the
reflexive pronoun os is added, the -D is dropped, except for the verb IRSE, which retains
the -D:
B. Irregular Verbs: You should quickly recognize the following verbs which have
irregular positive commands:
There are no irregular positive vosotros commands, except IRSE, noted above.
2. Negative Familiar Commands. Simply use the present subjunctive (see pp. 7-9) of
the verb for both singular and plural forms:
3. Positive and Negative Formal Commands. Both the singular (Ud.) and plural (Uds.)
forms use the present subjunctive to express positive and negative commands (see pp. 6-8).
However they differ in the location of object pronouns--in front for positive and attached to the
rear of negative forms. Note these examples:
4. First Person Indirect Commands. Spanish also classifies the idea of "Let's ." as a
command form, although indirectly. There are two ways of expressing this command: By using
the nosotros form of the present subjunctive or with vamos a . . . . Observe the
following examples:
The only exception to the above rule is the verb IR, which uses the present indicative: T H E P A S S I V E V O I C E All the above verb forms are used for active sentences. But passive
sentences also exist in Spanish, although to a lesser degree than in English. There are two ways of
expressing the passive voice in Spanish.
1. S E R + Past Participle + P O R + Agent. The "true" passive voice is expressed by the
above formula. Note its use below:
Las ciudades fueron fundadas por los españoles.
(The cities were founded by the Spaniards.)
Tenochtitlán fue destruída por Cortez.
(Tenochtitlán was destroyed by Cortez.)
Las cartas serán entregadas por el cartero.
(The letters will be delivered by the postman.)
Note that the form of SER can be in several tenses, singular or plural, and that the past participle
agrees with the object (cartas--entregadas).
2. Using The Reflexive Construction. In cases where the agent is not expressed or is
unimportant, the reflexive pronoun S E is used with the third person singular or plural of
the verb. This construction is often used in newspaper advertisements and can be translated
as "one .". Note its use in these examples:
Se necesita secretaria.
Aquí se hablan español y francés.
(Spanish and French are spoken here.)
¿Cómo se dice .?
(How does one say .?)
Así se hace, ¿no?
(This is how it's done, right?)


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