Appendix:Spanish verbs

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Main category: Spanish verbs

Spanish verb conjugation is one of the most complex aspects of Spanish grammar due to a relatively high degree of inflection, even compared to related Romance languages.

Spanish verb conjugations are separated into three finite moods (indicative, subjunctive, and imperative)[1] and a few non-finite forms. Regular verb conjugations are in three groups, by infinitive endings (-ar, -er, and -ir). These groupings are similar to the tripartite system found in Galician and Portuguese (-ar, -er, -ir), Italian (-are, -ere, -ire), French (-er, -ir, -re) and other Romance languages.

Non-finite forms


Each verb has an infinitive, a gerund (functionally quite different from the gerund of English grammar), and a passive perfect participle (past participle) that can further inflect for number and gender. Some verbs also have a present participle, generally considered to be an adjective derived from the verb rather than a form of the verb itself.

  • Infinitive: hablar (to speak)
  • Gerund: hablando (speaking)
  • Past participle: hablado (spoken)
  • Present participle: hablante (speaking; speaker)

Finite forms


The finite forms are grouped into seven distinct “simple tenses” (in a general sense of “tense” that refers to a specific time and a specific mood, although most modern grammars consider many of these forms as products of a tense and an aspect) and seven “perfect tenses”. The perfect tenses use the auxiliary verb haber along with the past participle. Other compound forms such as the present progressive are not considered to be an official conjugation of the verb.



Each of the finite “tenses” is conjugated according to the person and number of the subject. Nominative forms of Spanish pronouns often serve as the subject of such verbs. Frequently, though, the form of the verb makes the person and number of the subject clear. Thus, the subject pronoun is usually dropped altogether, except when used for emphasis or contrast:

  • Implied: Soy de España. ([I] am from Spain.)
  • Emphasized: Él es de Portugal, pero yo soy de España. (He is from Portugal, but I am from Spain.)

For most native speakers, the unnecessary use of these pronouns often sounds extremely foreign, so something like "Yo me levanté, yo me lavé los dientes y yo me vestí" (I woke up, I brushed my teeth and I got dressed) would sound extremely weird in most dialects, where the first "yo" would probably be omitted in most cases, and the other two would never be used unless a comical effect is sought.

However, there are certain contrastive cases where the pronouns are practically compulsory. For example, when listing or introducing several people, each one requires a pronoun (or other demonstrative) to separate this person from the rest. Thus, in a sentence like "Ella se llama María; yo (me llamo) Javier" (Her name is María; mine is Javier), that "yo" cannot be omitted unless the topic is being suddenly changed.

The 2nd person formal singular pronoun usted (abbreviated as Vd.) (“you”, literally, “your grace”) and its plural form ustedes take verbs conjugated in the third person. This is similar to the English practice of using third person verb forms with Your Majesty, Your Highness, and your Honor:

  • Usted habla. — Third person singular form of hablar, literally, “Your grace speaks.”
  • Ustedes hablan. — Third person plural form of hablar, literally, “Your graces speak.”

The use of usted and ustedes is very common in Spanish and is the equivalent of speaking on a last-name basis in English.

In Spanish, there is another pronoun, vos, used in place of . The use of it in speech is known as voseo in Spanish. Its use and conjugation is the same as for except in the present indicative, present subjunctive and the imperative.

  • Vos hablás. — Second person singular (vos) present indicative form of hablar, "You speak"
  • ¡Hablá! — Second person singular (vos) imperative form of hablar, "Speak!"

The vos form of a verb is always regular, except in the verbs ser and ir:

  • Vos sos argentino — Second person singular (vos) present indicative form of ser, "You are Argentinian"
  • Vos vas a Argentina — Second person singular (vos) present indicative form of ir, "You are going to Argentina"

In all parts of Latin America, as well as the Canary Islands and parts of Southern Spain, vosotros is not used, as ustedes is used in both formal and informal contexts.



The indicative mood has simple tense forms and corresponding perfect, continuous, and perfect continuous forms, as in English. However, in traditional Spanish grammar, continuous forms are ignored, and only the simple tenses and their perfect versions are considered as tenses.

Simple tenses


The Spanish indicative mood has four “simple tenses.” As opposed to English, which has just one past tense form, Spanish distinguishes between the preterite and the imperfect aspect. The preterite describes an event with a beginning and an end, but the imperfect describes a context without indicating its beginning or end. Within traditional Spanish grammar, the preterite and imperfect forms are considered separate tenses, with aspect controlled by auxiliary verbs, but modern grammar studies consider the preterite and imperfect to be different aspects of a single tense.

Besides the future tense, alternative constructions are often used to indicate a future event:

  • With ir (to go) + a (to) + infinitive: Voy a hablar. (I am going to speak.)
  • With temporal adverbs like mañana (morning, tomorrow): Mi padre llega mañana. (My father is arriving tomorrow.)
  • Immediate future with estar a punto de (to be about to [do something]) + infinitive: Mi padre está a punto de llegar. (My father is about to arrive.)
  • With ya (already): Mi padre ya llega. (My father arrives soon.)

Spanish present tense verbs often express future actions, although the future tense does so more explicitly. The future tense can also express some uncertainty about the present and immediate future:

  • ¿Qué hora es? Serán las tres. (What time is it? It's (probably) about three.)
  • ¿Quién llama a la puerta? Será José. (Who is at the door? It'll (probably) be José.)

As with the future tense, the conditional can express some uncertainty that is not indicated by the corresponding imperfect verb form:

  • ¿Qué hora era? Serían las tres. — “What time was it? It was about three (I think).”
  • ¿Quién llamaba a la puerta? Sería José. — “Who was at the door? It must have been José.”

Perfect forms


Spanish perfect tenses are always formed with haber ((auxilliary verb) to have) (unlike some other Romance languages, which use different auxilliary verbs based on the main verb) followed by the masculine singular form of the passive perfect participle:

The past anterior indicates that an action occurred just after another, with words such as cuando (when), nada más (no sooner) and en cuanto (as soon as).

Continuous forms


Similar to English, Spanish uses the copula—estar (to be)—with the gerund to express continuous activity:

Note: the past anterior continuous (pretérito anterior continuo) is rarely used in modern Spanish.

The distinction between habitual actions and current activity is less strict in Spanish than in English:

  • hablo (I speak) (a habit or a current activity)
  • estoy hablando (I am speaking) (stressing the current activity)



The subjunctive mood is most commonly used to express the speaker’s opinion, wish, doubt, emotion, or judgement about the unlikelihood of a hypothetical event. There are, however, plenty of other situations when it is used.

Simple tenses


Perfect forms


Continuous forms


The subjunctive is often used with a conditional verb:

  • Desearía que estuvieses aquí. — “I wish that you were here.”
  • Me alegraría mucho si volvieras mañana. — “I would be very glad if you came back tomorrow.”

The present subjunctive is formed from the stem of the first person singular present indicative of the verb. Therefore, for an irregular verb like salir (to leave) with the first person salgo (I leave), the present subjunctive is salga, not *sala. The use of the imperfect subjunctive is determined by tense of the main verb of a sentence, not necessarily the tense of the subjunctive verb itself. The -ra and -se forms are always interchangeable without any changes in meaning.

The future tense of the subjunctive is obsolete in practice, found today mostly in old texts and legal documents. In other contexts, it is usually replaced by the indicative form, except in certain fixed expressions, including venga lo que viniere (come what may), sea lo que fuere, and the proverb allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres.



The imperative mood has five forms, but only the second person (familiar) forms are distinct from the subjunctive. The second person singular imperative form coincides with the third-person singular indicative form for all but a few irregular verbs. In formal writing, the second person plural imperative is always the same as the infinitive but with a -d instead of an -r.

  • ¡Habla! — “Speak!” (informal singular, corresponding to )
  • ¡Hable! — “Speak!” (formal singular, corresponding to usted)
  • ¡Hablá! — “Speak!” (informal singular, corresponding to vos)
  • ¡Hablemos! — “Let us speak!” (corresponding to nosotros)
  • ¡Hablad! — “Speak!” (prescribed plural corresponding to vosotros, rarely used in casual speech)
  • ¡Hablar! — “Speak!” (common plural corresponding to vosotros, not accepted by the Real Academia Española)
  • ¡Hablen! — “Speak!” (plural corresponding to ustedes; see Appendix:Spanish pronouns for regional formality details)

For negative commands, the subjunctive is used instead, e.g.:

  • ¡No hables! — “Do not speak!” (informal singular, corresponding to or vos)
  • ¡No hable! — “Do not speak!” (formal singular, corresponding to usted)
  • ¡No hablemos! — “Let us not speak!” (corresponding to nosotros)
  • ¡No habléis! — “Do not speak!” (plural corresponding to vosotros; see Appendix:Spanish pronouns for regional details)
  • ¡No hablen! — “Do not speak!” (plural corresponding to ustedes; see Appendix:Spanish pronouns for regional formality details)

Object pronouns


The object pronoun is placed after the infinitive, gerund, and positive imperative, and before other forms. Exceptions are made in poetry for scansion. Pronouns are agglutinative, with the following phonetic modifications:

  • If le or les precedes lo, la, los, or las, it becomes se (e.g. envía + les + laenvíasela – "send it (feminine) to them").
  • If a form ending in -mos is followed by nos, the s drops, resulting in -monos (e.g. vamos + nosvámonos – "let's leave"). The s also drops before se, and thus -mose- (e.g. Démoselo – "Let's give it to him").
  • If a form ending in -d is followed by os, the d drops, resulting in -aos, -eos or -íos (e.g. lavad + oslavaos; poned + osponeos; salid + ossalíos).
    • Except for id ("go"), which either keeps the d or replaces it with r (thus, idos and iros are both accepted, while íos is considered incorrect).



The word stress remains the same when pronouns are suffixed. The written accent is thus added, kept, or removed as needed to mark it when it falls on a non-default syllable, according to the general rules.

  • quitar = "to remove"; quitarle = "to remove from you (formal singular) or him/her"; quitárselas = "to remove them (feminine) from you/him/her"
  • acercad = "bring close (imperative informal plural)"; acercaos = "bring yourselves close, draw near"
  • vamos = "let us go"; vámonos = "let us leave"
  • lave = "wash (imperative formal singular)"; láveme = "wash me"
  • lavé = "I washed"; laveme = me lavé = "I washed myself"
  • vio = "he saw"; violo = lo vio = "he saw it"



Most Spanish verbs fall into one of three regular conjugations, based on the last vowel of the infinitive form, which always ends in -ar, -er, or -ir. Verbs ending in -er or -ir follow similar conjugation patterns and -er verbs are far more common. Like English, some of the most common verbs are irregular (e.g. ir, "to go") but most are predictable.

The following three conjugation tables illustrate the patterns used by regular Spanish verbs.

Regular verbs ending in -ar


Regular verbs ending in -er


Regular verbs ending in -ir



  1. ^ Traditional linguistics often categorizes the conditional as a separate mood from the indicative, thereby having four moods. This article uses the modern classification.

See also