Stem changing verbs are the biggest group of the irregular verbs in the Spanish present 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:
These stem changes occur in all persons except nosotros and vosotros, that maintain the regular stem. Therefore, they are also called “Spanish boot verbs” (you are going to see why) and there are three main groups.
Spanish stem changing verbs E to IE
This is the most common stem-changing verbs 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).
Spanish stem changing verbs E to I
There is a small group of verbs that 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 stem-changing verbs. 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?)
Spanish stem changing verbs exercises and quizzes
Now you can practice what you have learned with the quizzes below. Remember you can contact your tutor for any question you have about stem-changing verbs. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?