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Conjugating the Spanish Verb Tocar (to Play an Instrument/Touch)

Spanish verbs fall into different groups, and each group is conjugated a little differently. If you’re going to master Spanish verbs like tocar, 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).

Tocar (toh-kahr) (to play an instrument/touch) is a (mostly) regular -ar verb, so its conjugation is pretty straightforward. Here it is in the present tense:

The Present Tense of Tocar
Conjugation Translation
yo toco I play
tú tocas You (informal) play
él/ella/ello/uno toca He/she/one plays
usted toca You (formal) play
nosotros tocamos We play
vosotros tocáis You all (informal)
ellos/ellas tocan They play
ustedes tocan You all (formal) play

Check out these examples:

  • ¿Tocan ellos la guitarra? (Do they play guitar?)

  • Sí. Y la tocan muy bien. (Yes. And they play it very well.)

Need to know how to conjugate tocar in another tense? The following tables show you the preterit, imperfect, and future forms.

The Preterit Tense of Tocar
Conjugation Translation
yo toquetoqué I played
tú tocaste You (informal) played
él/ella/ello/uno tocó He/she/one played
usted tocó You (formal) played
nosotros tocamos We played
vosotros tocasteis You all (informal) played
ellos/ellas tocaron They played
ustedes tocaron You all (formal) played

Note that the c changes to a qu in the yo form to keep the proper pronunciation; otherwise, everything is business as usual. The following examples show you the preterit at work:

  • ¿Tocó tu hermano en la fiesta? (Did you brother play at the party?)

  • Sí. Pero tocó solo por media hora. (Yes. But he only played for half an hour.)

The Imperfect Tense of Tocar
Conjugation Translation
yo tocaba I used to play
tú tocabas You (informal) used to play
él/ella/ello/uno tocaba He/she/one used to play
usted tocaba You (formal) used to play
nosotros tocábamos We used to play
vosotros tocabais You all (informal) used to play
ellos/ellas tocaban They used to play
ustedes tocaban You all (formal) used to play

Here are some examples of the imperfect tense:

  • ¿Tocaba tu hermana el acordión? (Did your sister used to play accordion?)

  • No. Ella tocaba el piano. (No. She used to play the piano.)

The Future Tense of Tocar
Conjugation Translation
yo tocaré I will play
tú tocarás You (informal) will play
él/ella/ello/uno tocará He/she/one will play
usted tocará You (formal) will play
nosotros tocaremos We will play
vosotros tocaréis You all (informal) will play
ellos/ellas tocarán They will play
ustedes tocarán You all (formal) will play

Take a look at the future tense in these examples:

  • ¿Tocarás la guitarra esta noche? (Will you play the guitar tonight?)

  • Si. Tocaré la guitarra con mis amigos. (Yes. I will play the guitar with my friends.)

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