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Introduction to Spanish verbs

One of the most difficult aspects of Spanish is to understand its verb conjugations. We will learn the important points related to the conjugations of Spanish verbs in the next lessons gradually. In this lesson, important main concepts are introduced.

Infinite endings

A verb consists of a stem and an infinitive ending. When you look up a verb in a dictionary, it is the infinitive form of the verb that you see.

All Spanish verbs end in either –ar, -er or –ir. So, the structure looks like this

  • stem of the verb + infinitive ending (-ar, -er, -ir)

Examples for “-ar” verbs:

  • jugar (to play)
  • cantar (to sing)
  • cocinar (to cook)

Examples for “-er” verbs:

  • leer (to read)
  • ver (to see)
  • tener (to have)

Examples for “-ir” verbs:

  • escribir (to write)
  • vivir (to live)
  • ir (to go)

Most Spanish verbs end in “–ar”. They are followed by “–er” verbs.


Get used to the above classification of Spanish verbs as soon as possible, since conjugation rules depend on it. Once you start to see the verbs from this classification view, you will not have much difficulty in understanding the conjugations at later stages.

Regular and irregular verbs

As English verbs, Spanish verbs can be either regular or irregular. For regular verbs, there are certain rules to be applied for conjugation. In case of irregular verbs, one has to memorize the conjugations to great extent. On the other hand, the grouping below helps remembering the conjugations better.

Classification of irregular verbs

Irregular verbs can be grouped into four categories.

1. Irregular verbs which are irregular only for the first person singular:

Some Spanish verbs are irregular only in “yo”. For the other subject pronouns, their conjugations follow the rules of the regular verbs.

Examples for this group:

  • salir (to go out)
  • poner (to put) 
  • hacer (to make)
  • conocer (to know)
  • producer (to produce)

2. Stem changing irregular verbs

Some Spanish verbs change their stems irregularly when they are conjugated.

Here, there are three important types of verbs:

  “o” is changed to “ue. Example: dormir (to sleep) -> duermo.

 “e” is changed to “i”. Example: pedir (to ask) -> pido

  “e” is changed to “ie”. Example: empezer -> empiezo

A practical thing to remember is that the stem-changing verbs are conjugated in the same way as a regular verb for the subject pronouns nosotros/-as and vosotros/-as.

3.  Stem changing and irregular (yo) forms

Some verbs can change the stem and be irregular in the first person singular (yo) at the same time.

Examples for this group

  • tener-> tengo (for yo), tienes (for tú)
  • decir ->digo(for yo), dices (for tú)

4. Completely irregular verbs

Not all verbs can be classified into the groups above. Unfortunately there are some verbs which are completely irregular, such as ser (to be) and estar (to be). Both of these verbs are handled in lessons the verb “to be” in Spanish and ser or estar?

We will deal with the conjugations of the regular and irregular verbs in more detail in the next lesson.

Reflexive verbs

An important group of Spanish verbs is reflexive verbs. A reflexive Spanish verb has “se” attached to its infinitive. For example, vestirse (to get dressed), levantarse (to get up).

The reflexive verb conjugations in present tense are handle here.

Verbs like gustar

There is a group of Spanish verbs which requires special attention with respect to conjugation. This topic is introduced in “Special” Spanish verbs.


Another  important concept related to Spanish verbs are the moods.

There are basically three ways to express actions: indicative mood, subjunctive mood and imperative mood. Unlike English, the subjunctive is very common in Spanish. You will learn more about in lessons introduction to subjunctive, subjunctive I, subjunctive II and indicative or subjunctive?


Learn some of the commonly used Spanish verbs for beginners

“-ar” verbs



to speak


to be


to begin


to work


to study


to help


to walk


to listen


to have breakfast

“-er” verbs



to have


to make/ to do


to learn


to turn


to eat


to want


to know


to be

“-ir” verbs



to say


to live


to go out


to open


to go

Let's Practice

Write down the possible infinitive endings for Spanish verbs

All Exercises