Beginner Lessons
How to Conjugate Verbs in Spanish

How to Conjugate Verbs in Spanish

In addition to the web version, you can download the lesson as a PDF, found at the bottom of the page.

How to Conjugate Verbs in Spanish

By this point you should be familiar with pronouns and how they function in Spanish. If not, I highly suggest you look over Lesson 14 and Lesson 15 of the Beginner Lessons first, as this lesson combines teachings from the previous two.

A few examples to begin:

hablar
comer
vivir

to talk
to eat
to live

The above words are called infinitives. They’re verbs that have not been conjugated. In Spanish, these always end in –ar, –er or –ir.

In the last lesson on subject pronouns, infinitives become conjugated based on who (the subject) was doing the action.

Let’s use an example of someone talking on the phone.

“Claudia habla mucho. Ella habla por teléfono.”
“Claudia talks a lot. She talks on the telephone.”

The subject in the first sentence is Claudia.

In the second sentence we can replace Claudia with the subject pronoun—in this case for a girl—which is ella.

Remember: ella = she

Let’s look at another example sentence.

“Ella habla por teléfono.”
“She talks on the phone.”

The underlined portion is a conjugated verb based on the subject, Claudia.

What does Claudia do? She talks on the phone.

The verb for talks comes from the infinitive for ‘to talk’. In Spanish, the verb for to talk is hablar.

You can see how the infinitive looks similar to its conjugated form in this specific example below, using she.

hablar
ella habla

to talk
she talks

There are rules for conjugating verbs based on a few criteria.

When is the action happening? (tense)
present/past/future/other

Who is doing the action?
me/you/he/she/it/we/they

What type of verb is it?
verbs ending in: –ar, er,ir

All three of these criteria will indicate how the verb is conjugated.

Look back at the chart that has three verbs listed. Each one ends in –ar, –er or –ir.

These are the only possibilities for infinitives.

Let’s walk through the process for conjugating the verb hablar from this example.

“Ella habla por teléfono.”
“She talks on the phone.”

Look at who is doing the actionshe, Claudia, is doing the action.

When is this action happening?—talks—it’s happening right now, so it’s present tense.

Next, find the chart for present tense verb conjugations.

The idea is to match the subject pronouns from the last lesson, with the correct verb chart.

how ton conjugate verbs in spanish

Next,

Start with the infinitivehablar

Take off the last two lettersar

You’re left with the ‘stem’—habl

Add the ending from the chart above to the ‘stem’

Result

how to conjugate verbs in spanish

The same process is repeated for almost every verb.

The difference is in how the verb ends. Compare them below.

how to conjugate verbs in spanish

In the present tense, all three types of verb share the subject pronoun (yo) verb ending ‘o’.

You’ll see a lot of similarities between –er and –ir verbs.

how to conjugate verbs in spanish

The bold verb endings are common between –er and –ir verbs in the present tense.

That eliminates a lot of the work and leaves you to memorize 10 possible endings between all –ar, –er and –ir verbs when leaving out vosotros.

Let’s look at three conjugated verbs side by side (by side).

irregular verbs in spanish

All three verbs—hablar, comer and vivir—are regular verbs because they follow set patterns.

However, irregular verbs also exist. These irregulars do not necessarily follow a pattern and are detailed in the next lesson.

When conjugating verbs, there is another important rule to keep in mind when going forward.

When one verb follows directly after another, you don’t conjugate the second verb!

“¿Quieres hablar mañana?”
“Do you want to talk tomorrow?

The first verb, quieres, is in the conjugated form of its infinitive querer. It’s conjugated based on the process outlined earlier in the lesson.

The second verb, hablar, comes directly after quieres and therefore does not need to be conjugated.

One last example.

“Puedo venir temprano.”
“I can come early.”


Again, the second verb, venir, comes directly after puedo and does not get conjugated.

Take a look at the next lesson where we’ll cover irregular verbs.