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Cheat Sheet

Spanish Verbs For Dummies

Spanish verbs are generally easier to deal with than English ones because regular Spanish verbs use consistent rules whether you’re forming simple tenses or moving into participles. To highlight the contrast, the Spanish verbs for speak, eat, and live are often used as examples of regular Spanish verbs, and there’s nothing regular about any of these verbs in English!

Spanish Subject Pronouns

Pronouns are very helpful words you use so that you don’t have to keep saying a person’s name over and over. Remember that Spanish has different pronouns for someone you know well — the familiar form — and for more formal relationships. The following table lists singular and plural pronouns for all occasions.

Person Singular Plural
First person yo = I nosotros = we (male or mixed group)
nosotras= we (female)
Second person familiar tú = you vosotros = you (male or mixed group)
vosotras = you (female)
Second person formal usted = you ustedes = you (plural)
Third person él = he
ella = she
ellos= they (male or mixed group)
ellas= they (female)

How to Form Simple Tenses with Regular Spanish Verbs

The regular Spanish verbs that end in -ar, -er, and -ir take a pretty regular method in forming simple tenses. You start with the stem of the word and add an ending according to the person or pronoun you use. The following tables show how to change tenses for -ar verbs (hablar, to speak is the example) and -er and -ir verbs, in which comer, to eat, and vivir, to live, are the examples.

Simple Tenses of Regular –ar Verbs
Tense Stem yo él, ella, usted nosotros/as vosotros/as ellos/as, ustedes
Present habl + -o -as -a -amos -áis -an
Imperfect habl + -aba -abas -aba -ábamos -abais -aban
Preterit habl + -aste -amos -asteis -aron
Future hablar + -ás -emos -éis -án
Conditional hablar + -ía -ías -ía -íamos -íais -ían
Present Subjunctive habl + -e -es -e -emos -éis -en
Imperfect Subjunctive habl + -ara -aras -ara -áramos -arais -aran
Imperfect Subjunctive (alternative) habl + -ase -ases -ase -ásemos -aseis -asen

The first imperfect subjunctive form is the one most commonly used, not the alternative.

Simple Tenses of Regular -er and –ir Verbs
Tense Stem yo él, ella, usted nosotros/as vosotros/as ellos/as, ustedes
Present com/viv + -o -es -e/-a -emos/-imos -éis/-ís -en
Imperfect com/viv + -ía -ías -ía -íamos -íais -ían
Preterit com/viv + -iste -ió -imos -isteis -ieron
Future comer/vivir + -ás -emos -éis -án
Conditional comer/vivir + -ía -ías -ía -íamos -íais -ían
Present Subjunctive com/viv + -a -as -a -amos -áis -an
Imperfect Subjunctive com/viv + -iera -ieras iera -iéramos -ierais -ieran
Imperfect Subjunctive (alternative) com/viv + -iese -ieses -iese -iésemos -ieseis -iesen

How to Form Present and Past Participles in Spanish

Regular Spanish verbs follow regular rules when they become present participles, verbs that end in -ing in English, and past participles, verbs that end in -ed or -en in English. The following tables show the rules for each verb form and offer examples.

Forming Present Participles
Verb Ending Rule Example Verb Present Participle
-ar stem + -ando hablar = to speak hablando = speaking
-er or -ir stem + -iendo comer = to eat comiendo = eating
vivir = to live viviendo = living
Forming Past Participles
Verb Ending Rule Example Verb Present Participle
-ar stem + -ado hablar = to speak hablado = spoken
-er or -ir stem + -ido comer = to eat comido = eaten
vivir = to live vivido = lived
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