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Deciding between the Preterit and Imperfect Verb Tenses in Spanish
Acting in the Now with the Present Progressive in Spanish

Conjugating the Irregular Spanish Verb Jugar (to Play)

Spanish verbs fall into different groups, and each group is conjugated a little differently. If you’re going to master Spanish verbs like jugar, you need to be able to identify which group a verb belongs to: regular (follows regular conjugation rules for -ar, -er, and -ir verbs), stem-changing (morphs depending on how you use it in a sentence), spelling-changing (has consonant-spelling changes in some forms to follow pronunciation rules), or reflexive (reflects the action back on the subject of the sentence).

Jugar (Hoo-gahr) (to play) is the only verb that has a u-to-ue stem change, but like other stem-changers, it changes in all but the nosotros and vosotros forms in the present tense. Here’s that conjugation:

The Present Tense of Jugar
Conjugation Translation
yo juego I play
tú juegas You (informal) play
él/ella/ello/uno juega He/she/one plays
usted juega You (formal) play
nosotros jugamos We play
vosotros jugáis You all (informal) play
ellos/ellas juegan They play
ustedes juegan You all (formal) play

The following examples show you jugar in action:

  • ¿Juegan ustedes con ellos? (Do you play with them?)

  • Sí. Jugamos con ellos todos los días. (Yes. We play with them every day.)

Jugar doesn’t undergo a stem change in the preterit, but it does undergo a slight spelling change in the yo form to keep the proper pronunciation; otherwise, the conjugation is normal. Take a look:

The Preterit Tense of Jugar
Conjugation Translation
yo jugué I played
tú jugaste You (informal) played
él/ella/ello/uno jugó He/she/one played
usted jugó You (formal) played
nosotros jugamos We played
vosotros jugasteis You all (informal) played
ellos/ellas jugaron They played
ustedes jugaron You all (formal) played

You use the preterit tense like this:

  • Ayer jugué con mi amigo. (I played with my friend yesterday.)

  • Lucía jugó con su hermanito. (Lucía placed with her little brother.)

You’re off the hook with crazy conjugation rules in the imperfect and future forms; jugar conjugates normally in these tenses. Check out the following tables and examples.

The Imperfect Tense of Jugar
Conjugation Translation
yo jugaba I used to play
tú jugabas You (informal) used to play
él/ella/ello/uno jugaba He/she/one used to play
usted jugaba You (formal) used to play
nosotros jugábamos We used to play
vosotros jugabais You all (informal) used to play
ellos/ellas jugaban They used to play
ustedes jugaban You all (formal) used to play

Here are some examples of the imperfect tense:

  • Mis padres jugaban tenis cuando eran jóvenes. (My parents used to play tennis when they were young.)

  • Nosotros también jugábamos tenis. (We too used to play tennis.)

The Future Tense of Jugar
Conjugation Translation
yo jugaré I will play
tú jugarás You (informal) will play
él/ella/ello/uno jugará He/she/one will play
usted jugará You (formal) will play
nosotros jugaremos We will play
vosotros jugaréis You all (informal) will play
ellos/ellas jugarán They will play
ustedes jugarán You all (formal) will play

The following samples put the future tense to work:

  • ¿Jugarás esta noche? (Will you play tonight?)

  • No. Yo jugaré mañana. (No. I will play tomorrow.)

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