Verbs are the words we use to say:
- What people and things are and have: be, exist, have…
- What happens to them: live, die, become, change, break…
- What they do physically: breath, eat, run, wait, arrive…, and mentally: like, believe, decide, respect, dream, analyse…
The infinitive, the base form of the verb
In a dictionary you find the infinitive (el infinitivo in Spanish) of a verb in English, this is the basic verb, which can have to in front of it: (to) invite, (to) depend, (to) decide. In Spanish, infinitives are identified by their ending, which can be –ar, -er or -ir: invitar, depender, decidir. When you remove –ar, -er, -ir, you’re left with the stem of the verb: invit-, depend-, decid-. A range of other endings can now be added to this stem, each of them conveying precise information about:
- How the verb is being used = mood
- When it’s happening: present, past or future= tense
- Who /what is doing it = person
100 Spanish infinitives
Verbs endings in Spanish
1. The verb endings carry precise information about how the verb is being used when it’s happening and who/what is doing it.
They fit onto the stem of the verb, which you find by removing –ar, -er, or –ir from the end of the infinitive.
- Trabajar (to work) trabaj-= trabajo (I work), trabajé (I worked), trabajaré (I will work)…
2. The replacement endings are very similar – but not identical- for the three groups of verbs (see the conjugation of the regular verbs in the present tense). Irregular verbs deviate from the standard patterns in the same way, but even most of these have endings that are similar to regular verb patterns.
3. Because the verb conjugation often suggests who or what the subject of a sentence is, subject pronouns are less used in Spanish than in English.
Reflexive verbs in Spanish
Some verbs have –se (oneself) at the end of the infinitive. Called reflexive verbs, many –but not all- of these include oneself or get in the English translation: casarse (to get married), lavarse (to wash –oneself), divertirse (to enjoy oneself).
When they’re not infinitive, reflexive verbs have the same endings as other verbs but they also have to be accompanied by a reflexive pronoun: me, te, se… (see more about reflexive verbs).
The mood of the Spanish verbs
The mood is used in Spanish verbs, to refer to a category which indicates if the verb expresses a fact (the indicative mood) or a wish or possibility (the subjunctive mood) for instance.
Estoy sano (I am very healthy).
Ojalá esté muy sano (I hope I am very healthy).