Stem changing verbs are the biggest group of irregular verbs in the present Spanish tense. In all three conjugations of verbs (-ar, -er, and -ir), there are some verbs whose vowels change within the stem. It is always the vowel in the penultimate syllable.
As you can see above, these stem changes occur in all persons except nosotros and vosotros, which maintain the regular stem. Therefore, they are also called “Spanish boot verbs”. They can be organized into three groups, which we are going to see now in more detail. Finally, we have eight exercises for you to practice.
Spanish-stem changing verbs E to IE
This is the most common stem-changing verb group in Spanish. Conjugation example:
|Querer (to want)|
|Quiero ( I want)||Queremos (we want)|
|Quieres (you want)||Quereis (you want)|
|Quiere (He/she wants)||Quieren (they want)|
Other verbs with similar irregularity are: calentar (to warm), cerrar (to close), comenzar (to begin), defender (to defend), despertarse (to wake up), divertirse (to have fun), empezar (to begin), encender (to light/turn on), sentir (to feel), mentir (to lie), negar (deny), nevar (snow), pensar en (to think about), preferir (to prefer), recomendar (to recommend), sentarse (to sit down)….
Quiero comprar una casa este año (I want to buy a house this year).
El nuevo curso empieza el lunes (the new course starts on Monday).
Changing E for I
A small group of verbs changes «e« for «i«. Notice that all these verbs end in «-ir«. Conjugation example:
|Repetir (to repeat)|
|Repito (I repeat)||Repetimos (we repeat)|
|Repites (you repeat)||Repetís (you repeat)|
|Repite (he/she repeats)||Repiten (the repeat)|
Other verbs with similar irregularity are: conseguir (to get), corregir (to correct), despedir (to fire/say goodbye), elegir (to elect/choose), perseguir (to follow), repetir (to repeat), seguir (to follow) servir (to serve), vestirse (to get dressed)…
Repites varias veces los ejercicio (You repeat several times the homework).
Me visto rápidamente (I get dress very quickly).
Spanish stem changing verbs O to UE
This is the 2nd most common group. Conjugation example:
|Dormir (to sleep)|
|Duermo (I sleep)||Dormimos (we sleep)|
|Duermes (you sleep)||Dormís (you sleep)|
|Duerme (he/she sleeps)||Duermen (they sleep)|
Other verbs with similar irregularity are: acordarse (to agree), almorzar (to have lunch), aprobar (to approve), cocer (to boil), colgar (to hang up), contar (to count/tell), devolver (to return something), doler (to hurt), dormir (to asleep), encontrar (to find), llover (to rain), morir (to die), poder (to be able to), recorder (to remember), soler (to be accustomed to), volar (to fly)…
Me duele la cabeza (I have a headache).
¿Puedes venir mañana? (Can you come tomorrow?)