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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