The Simple Present

Uses:

In Spanish, the Present Tense is used in 6 main instances:

1. To express facts and general truths.
For example: “Madrid es una ciudad en España.”


2. To express an action that is happening in the present*.
For example: “
navego por Internet.”


3. For habitual actions.
For example: “
juego al fútbol cada semana.”


4. For descriptions in the present.
For example: “ella
tiene el pelo rubio.”
 

5. To express an action in the immediate future.
For example: “ en cinco minutos
voy a las tiendas.”
 

6. To express an action that started in the past that continues to the present. This is normally indicated by the words, hace and desde.
For example: “hace dos meses que
vivo en Barcelona.”

Formation: Regular verbs

The formation of regular verbs in Spanish is fairly simple. In their infinitive form, verbs end in either: -ar, -er or –ir.

To form the Present Tense for regular verbs in Spanish, we remove the -ar, -er or –ir ending of the verb to obtain the stem.

For example: hablar - ar = habl

Then the correct Present Tense ending must be added to the stem in order to indicate who/what is doing/does the action. 

For example: the stem of hablar = habl, the ending for I is "o", the conjugated verb becomes "hablo" (I speak).

The endings for each person are as follows:

Therefore to conjugate the hablar, comer and vivir we follow these steps:

1. We remove the infinitive ending to obtain the stem

hablar - ar = habl

comer - er =  com

vivir - ir = viv

2. We add the correct ending to the stem:

*Notebook: The person (e.g. yo) isn't usually mentioned as it is implied within the verb ending. However él, ella, usted, ellos, ellas and ustedes are commonly mentioned for clarification.

Keep reading for more in-depth explanations

Irregulars: Stem-changing verbs

In the Present Tense in Spanish, many verbs' stems change - except for in the nosotros and vosotros forms.

There are 5 main types of stem-changing verbs:

  1. e → i

  2. e → ie

  3. i → ie

  4. o → ue

  5. u → ue

In stem-changing verbs, the stem (the infinitive verb minus the -ar, -er, -ir ending) changes for all people except for nosotros and vosotros

Stem-changing verbs: e → i

In e → i stem-changing verbs, the last letter e in the stem becomes an i for every person except nosotros and vosotros.

For example:

Servir

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • conseguir

  • corregir

  • elegir*

  • pedir

  • reírse

  • repetir

  • vestirse

*Notebook: In elegir the letter g becomes a j.

Stem-changing verbs: e → ie

In e → ie stem-changing verbs, the last letter e in the stem becomes an ie for every person except nosotros and vosotros.

For example:

Pensar

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • atravesar

  • calentar

  • cerrar

  • comenzar

  • confesar

  • defender

  • despertarse

  • divertirse

  • empezar

  • entender

  • gobernar

  • mentir

  • negar

  • nevar

  • perder

  • preferir

  • querer

  • recomendar

  • sentarse

  • sentir

  • sugerir

  • tener*

*Notebook: tener is also different in the yo form (see below)

Stem-changing verbs: i → ie

In e → ie stem-changing verbs, the last letter i in the stem becomes an ie for every person except nosotros and vosotros.

For example:

Adquirir

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • inquirir 

Stem-changing verbs: o → ue

In o → ue stem-changing verbs, the last letter o in the stem becomes an ue for every person except nosotros and vosotros.

For example:

Volver

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • acordarse

  • almorzar

  • aprobar

  • contar

  • costar

  • doler

  • dormir

  • encontrar

  • llover

  • morir

  • mostrar

  • mover

  • poder

  • recordar

  • rogar

  • soler

  • sonar

  • soñar

  • volar

Stem-changing verbs: u → ue

In u → ue stem-changing verbs, the last letter u in the stem becomes an ue for every person except nosotros and vosotros.

The only common example is jugar

Irregulars: 'yo' form spelling changes

In the Spanish Present Tense, there are many verbs whose form is different in the yo form to the other subjects. There are 6 main categories of verbs in the Present Tense that change in the yo form:

  • c → g

  • c → z

  • c → zc

  • g → j

  • gu → g

  • general irregular verbs in the yo form only.

'Yo' spelling changes: c → g

Except for the letter change in the 'yo' form, most of these verbs have the regular stem for all other people.

For example:

Hacer

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • decir*

  • poner

  • salir

  • tener**

  • valer

*Notebook: decir is also a stem-changing verb. The letter e becomes the letter i.
**Notebook: excluding the yo form, tener is a stem-changing verb as the letter e becomes ie.

'Yo' spelling changes: c → z

Except for the letter change in the 'yo' form, most of these verbs have the regular stem for all other people.

For example:

Convencer

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • coercer

  • ejercer

  • fruncir

  • vencer

'Yo' spelling changes: c → zc

Except for the letter changes in the 'yo' form, most of these verbs have the regular stem for all other people.

For example:

Reducir

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • agradecer

  • aparecer

  • conducir

  • conocer

  • deducir

  • establecer

  • introducir

  • merecer

  • nacer

  • obedecer

  • ofrecer

  • parecer

  • producir

  • reducir

  • traducir

'Yo' spelling changes: g → j

Except for the letter change in the 'yo' form, most of these verbs have the regular stem for all other people.

For example:

Dirigir

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • acoger

  • coger

  • corregir

  • escoger

  • exigir

  • fingir

  • proteger

  • recoger

'Yo' spelling changes: gu → g

Except for the letter change in the 'yo' form, most of these verbs have the regular stem for all other people.

For example:

Distinguir

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • conseguir

  • extinguir

  • perseguir

  • proseguir

  • seguir*

 

*Notebook: seguir and conseguir are also stem-changing verbs, the letter e becomes an i.

'Yo' spelling changes: general irregulars

Many of the most commonly used verbs Spanish have an irregular form in the yo form in the Present Tense. 

Below are a few examples of verbs that are irregular in the yo form in the Present Tense:

  • Caber → (yo) quepo

  • Caer → (yo) caigo

  • Dar → (yo) doy

  • Saber → (yo) sé

  • Traer → (yo) traigo

  • Ver → (yo) veo

'Regular irregulars':

In the Present Tense in Spanish, there are 3 other groups of verbs that follow a regular pattern but are considered to be irregular because of their spelling change:

  • verbs that end in uir

  • verbs that end in iar

  • verbs that end in uar

'Regular irregulars': verbs that end in 'uir'

For verbs that end in uir, the letters, ui, unless preceded by the letter g, become uy except in the nosotros and vosotros forms.

For example: 

Incluir

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • atribuir

  • concluir

  • constituir

  • construir

  • distribuir

  • destruir

  • disminuir

  • excluir

  • fluir

  • huir

  • influir

  • instituir

  • obstruir

  • sustituir

'Regular irregulars': verbs that end in 'iar'

For verbs that end in iar have an accent on the letter i in every form except nosotros and vosotros.

For example: 

Confiar

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • ampliar

  • criar

  • enviar

  • espiar

  • variar

'Regular irregulars': verbs that end in 'uar'

For verbs that end in uar have an accent on the letter u in every form except nosotros and vosotros.

For example: 

Continuar

Other common verbs in this group include:

  • acentuar

  • actuar

  • graduar

  • situar

  • valuar

Irregular verbs:

In the Present Tense, there are some verbs that don’t follow any specific rule. These verbs are considered irregular. 

Below are verb tables of some of the most important irregular verbs in the Spanish Present Tense:

  1. Very important: soy, estar, haber, ir

2. Important: oír, oler

Click here to continue to exercises on the Present Tense

Published: 18/04/2016