Introduction: Conjugating Spanish Verbs in the Present Tense

In this tutorial I will explain to you how to conjugate regular Spanish verbs in the present tense. This is tricky but, once you get the hang of it, it's easy. Here is how...

(you will need an English-Spanish dictionary)

Step 1: Understand What You Are Doing

Learning a language is extremely tricky. Jumping in and going straight for the difficult grammar is, well, difficult. We will not be making complex or compound sentences. Just a nice simple sentence with a subject (like I), a verb (like eat) and an object (like pizza).

Step 2: The Subject

The subject of a sentence is the thing that is doing something. In my example earlier the subject was "I" because I was eating the pizza. The subject is the first word of the sentence. If you want to say He was eating or Tim was eating you would put them first.

The subjects that you will need are in the picture above. If you want you can use a name instead of one of the words given.

There are some slightly tricky parts to the table above. You might notice that you is split into singular and plural. This basically means if you want are using the word "you" and there is only one person use tú and if there are two or more use vosotros.

They is also split into masculine and feminine. If ALL the people you are referring to are female then use ellas. If one or more are male use ellos. It is that simple.

Please note that objects have masculinity or femininity like in french. This may change how you conjugate a verb. If you want to say the cats eat then it would be ellos because gatos (spanish for cats) is masculine. If you are talking about some masculine things and some feminine things then you make it masculine like when talking about people.

Step 3: The Verb - Understanding Infinitives

This is the tricky bit. I will go through this step by step.

All verbs in Spanish fit into one of three categories. This will depend on the ending. This then effects how you conjugate it. A verb can either be AR, ER or IR. You may now be wondering "How should I know how it ends?". It is simple. Look it up in an English-Spanish dictionary or Google translate. This will give you the infinitive. The infinitive isn't in any tense. The next step is to conjugate it.

Examples of different types of verbs:

Hablar (to talk)

Comer (to eat)

vivir (to live)

Step 4: Conjugating the Verb

This is the main part of the present tense. The table above shows how to conjugate the verbs I listed last time.

Let's go through AR verbs first. If you say I speak. yoú would say Yo hablo. This is you because you remove the ending then add the ending for that subject. Each subject will end and sound different.

The endings for a different type of verb will be similar but not the same which makes it easier to remember. These endings work for all regular verbs. There are some that are irregular. You will just have to learn them (or get a verb book with the conjugations).

Step 5: The Object

This probably doesn't deserve a step to itself but I couldn't think of anything to chuck in with it. All you have to do now is put the object on the end.

Let's use I speak Spanish as an example.

I is Yo

Speak is hablar

hablar is AR and when conjugated for yo it becomes hablo

spanish is español.

Put it together and you get: Yo hablo español.

Step 6: Some Things to Note

You don't need a subject (yes I lied to you). The conjugations all sound and look different. This means you can tell who is doing the verb just by the conjugation. Using the subject isn't wrong and is probably good practice. That said it isn't actually necessary.

Some common irregular verbs are:

Tener (to have)

Ser (to be)

Estar (to be

Poder (to be able to)

Ir (to go)

They are linked to pages with their conjugations. For the present tense use the column to the left starting tengo for Tener.

The rule for Estar and Ser is that if you are saying you are something then you use Ser. An example is Yo soy estudiante. I am a student.

Ser is also used for telling the time. Son las dos means it is two o'clock. If you want to say one o'clock then say es la una as one is singular but otherwise use Son las...

Estar is used for places. Estoy en la classe means I am in the class. Estar is also used for making the present perfect but that is quite complicated.