The present tense in Spanish is the verb form that is used to talk about what is generally true, what is true at the moment and what happens regularly; for example, en invierno hace frío (it’s cold in winter), Carlos tiene 38 años (Carlos is 38 years old), todos los días me levanto a las 7:00 (I get up at 7:00 every day). Learn more about when the present tense is used for.
In the present tense, verbs can be organized into irregular and regular verbs. Today we are going to see just regular verbs in the Spanish present tense.
Spanish present tense endings
First of all, Spanish verbs are divided into three main groups depending on the endings in the infinitive: -AR, -ER or -IR. This general rule affects regular and irregular verbs in all the tenses.
To start we need to learn the infinitives of the Spanish verbs, paying especial attention to their endings.
Spanish regular verbs in the present tense
Spanish regular verbs in the present tense are those which stems don’t suffer any change when are conjugated: compr…, vend…, abr... On the other hand, verbs endings carry precise information about how the verb is being used, when the action is happening, and who/what is doing it. Let’s see the image below:
They fit onto the stem of the verb, which you will find by removing –AR, -ER, -IR from the end of the infinitive (see verbs overview). In the present simple tense, the replacement endings are very similar -but not identical- for the three groups, as you have probably already notice.
1. Verbs endig in –ar and –er only change the vowel a to e.
2. Verbs ending in –ir, are similar to those in –er, except for nosotros (we) and vosotros (you plural).
3. The vosotros/as form is the only one with an orthographic accent. Remember that this person is only used in Spain since in America they prefer to use ustedes
4. When we read the vosotros/as form, you must take into account that it is the only to have the stress on the ending –like the infinitive. Others are stressed on the preceding syllable: escucho (I listen), escribes (you write), leemos (we read), viajan(they travel) but viajar (to travel) or escribís (you –plural- write)…
5. In Spanish, the endings of the verbs are especially important because usually, subject pronouns (I, you, he, she…) are not used, unlike English: Hablamos español en clase (We speak Spanish in class).
Practice the conjugation of the regular verbs in th present
The best way to learn something is by practicing, and the activities below will help you to do it. Before you start working with the exercises, remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have about the present tense in Spanish. Don’t you have a Spanish online tutor yet?
Irregular verbs in the Spanis present tense
Irregular verbs deviate from the standard patterns in some way, but even most of these have endings that are similar to regular verbs patterns. Irregular verbs can algo be organiced in four main groups:
- Stem changing verbs: querer (to want), dormir (to asleep), pedir(to ask for), jugar(to play)…
- Irregular verbs in the first person «yo»: poner (to put), salir (to go out), conocer (to know)…
- Common irregular verbs with dramatic changes: ser (to be), ir (to go), tener (to have)…
- Verbs with stem spelling changes: escoger (to choose), distinguir (to distinguish), convencer (to convince), construir (to build)…
The present continuous tense
Remember that the present tense in Spanish is used mainly to talk about routines, when we want to talk about things that are happening right at the moment or that we want to present as temporal we use the present continuous tense. Notice the differences:
Ana ve la televisión todas las noches (Anna watchs TV every evenight).
Ana está viendo la televisión ahora mismo (Anna is watching the TV right now).