Verbs are essential components of any language; you cannot communicate effectively without them. Spanish is no exception, and understanding the fundamentals of Spanish verb conjugation is critical to becoming an effective language speaker.

This article will teach you how to structure Spanish verbs, including standard rules, exceptions, and basic temporal conjugations.

Master Spanish verb conjugation

Understanding Spanish verb conjugation

In Spanish, verbs change more than in English. They must fit the subject, tenses, and mode. These changes are referred to as conjugations. To conjugate a verb, we consider the subject pronoun and adjust the verb accordingly.

Subject pronouns

You (singular)Tú (informal), Usted (formal)
He, She, ItÉl / Ella
WeNosotros / Nosotras
You (plural)Vosotros / Vosotras
TheyEllos / Ellas / Ustedes

This is significant because we use different verb endings in Spanish depending on who acts. From here, conjugation is simple because most regular verbs stick to a set of rules.

In contrast, irregular verbs do not follow the same pattern as regular verbs. However, as you will see later in this article, there are some methods for making learning those verbs easier.

Regular verbs: -ar, -er and –ir

Regular verbs are the easiest to learn because they behave consistently. Fortunately for you, most verbs in Spanish are regular. The most basic form of a verb is the infinitivo (“infinitive”). In Spanish, verbs are divided into three groups based on their endings:

  • hablar (to talk or speak)
  • leer (to read)
  • escribir (to write)

To begin conjugating a verb, simply remove the ending to isolate the stem. Then, add the appropriate termination.

Infinitive and stem for verb conjugations

Basic verb conjugation diagram

Regular verb endings: Present tense in the indicative

We can now begin to conjugate verbs. An excellent place to start is with the present tense in Spanish, which you will use for essential communication, such as introducing yourself. For now, we will only look at this tense to get a sense of how conjugation works. The method will be consistent for the majority of Spanish tenses.

First, we’ll look at how to form the present tense or present simple for each group of verbs.

Present tense endings

-ar verbs-er verbs-ir verbs

Now we can start by conjugating the examples we just mentioned above: hablar, leer and escribir.

Present tense conjugation

Personal pronoun-ar example-er example-ir example
Él / Ella / Ustedhablaleeescribe
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedeshablanleenescribís

Mastering –ar, -er, and –ir verbs in Spanish is necessary if you want to understand the concept of Spanish verb conjugation. You may need some practice, but with time, you will develop the techniques to conjugate Spanish verbs quickly.

Know the difference between regular and irregular verbs

Irregular verbs

When verbs don’t follow a pattern for conjugation, they are called “irregulares” (irregular). Some of these verbs may appear regular -ar, -er, or -ir verbs, but their stems change when conjugated. Take the verb pensar (to think) and compare it to hablar. They both belong to the -ar group, but pensar is irregular because it alters a vowel in its stem:

Present tense – pensar

Personal pronounConjugated verb
Él / Ella / Ustedpiensa
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedespiensan

Despite being irregular, some verbs, such as pensar, change the “e” in the stem to “ie” when conjugated in the present tense. Other verbs in this group include querer (want/love) and preferir (prefer).

  • ¿Quieres ir al restaurante? (Do you want to go to the restaurant?)
  • ¿Cuál prefieres? (Which one do you prefer?)

Another group of irregular verbs replaces the “o” in the stem with “ue” in the present tense: poder (to be able to), volver (to return), dormir (to sleep), and so on.

Present tense – poder

Personal pronounConjugated verb
Él / Ella / Ustedpuede
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedespueden
  • Puedo venir a pie a la oficina. (I can walk to the office)
  •  Vuelvo a casa andando todos los días. (I go back home walking every day)

One thing to keep in mind is that verbs that change “e” to “ie” and “o” to “ue” do not change for all personal pronouns. Exceptions include the pronouns “nosotros / nosotras” and “vosotros / vosotras”.

Irregular verbs – present tense

Personal pronounSimple present (Presente simple) – quererSimple present (Presente simple) – volver
Él / Ella / Ustedquierevuelve
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedesquierenvuelven

There are still some irregular verbs that don’t fit into any of these categories. Other verbs, such as ser (to be) and ir (to go), undergo significant, sometimes complete, stem changes. Finding out the rules for learning these verbs is difficult, so you must memorize them. However, because they are typically common verbs for everyday use, you’ll be able to learn them quickly.

Present tense of ser and ir

Personal pronounSimple present (presente simple) –serSimple present (presente simple) – ir
Él / Ella / Ustedesva
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedessonvan

Spanish verb conjugation may initially appear challenging. Still, you can pick it up quickly with practice and an understanding of the rules.

Remember the basics: remove the ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) from the infinitive to form the stem, then add the ending for the appropriate person and tense. Watch out for irregular verbs that change a vowel in their stem, such as pensar or poder. Remember to learn the conjugations for irregular verbs, such as ser or ir.

If you are still confused, you can seek guidance from a conversational Spanish tutor to develop your vocabulary, pronunciation, and tenses expertise. In this era of massive technological advancements, italki has introduced the best online learning resources. You can book lessons online with one of the italki’s tutors and start learning Spanish from home.

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Frequently asked questions

Why is verb conjugation necessary in Spanish?

The verb conjugation is crucial for expressing different tenses, moods, and aspects in Spanish. It helps convey accurate information about when an action occurs, the subject performing the action, and the sentence context.

How many verb tenses are there in Spanish?

Spanish has 14 verb tenses, including present, past, and future, each with variations and nuances.

What are the most common irregular verbs in Spanish?

Common irregular verbs in Spanish include ser, estar, ir, tener, and hacer. They deviate from regular conjugation patterns, requiring special attention.

How do I conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish?

Reflexive verbs require a reflexive pronoun and are conjugated based on the subject. Place the reflexive pronoun before the conjugated verb or attach it to an infinitive or gerund.


Mastering Spanish verb conjugation may take time. However, following the correct technique can minimize confusion regarding Spanish verbs and their conjugations. Regular verbs follow the same rule. It is the irregular verbs that require special attention. Also, explore reflexive verbs in Spanish to build a deeper understanding.

Moreover, getting a highly experienced and professional Spanish tutor from italki can help you minimize all your confusion and develop the pace required to master the language.

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