The present tense in Spanish is the most common, used to indicate current, habitual or common actions, including actions which are characteristic of the person or subject of the sentence.
Vivo en Birmingham.
I live in Birmingham.
Él corre cada día antes del desayuno.
He runs every day before breakfast.
How to conjugate in the Spanish Present Tense
The present tense is formed by removing the AR from the verb stem, and replacing it with the following ending.
|Él / ella / usted||habl||-a|
|Ellos / ellas / ustedes||habl||-an|
Note the accented á in the vosotros form.
The ER endings follow a similar pattern to AR, but with -es substituted for -as in the ending.
|Él / ella / usted||com||-e|
|Ellos / ellas / ustedes||com||-en|
Note the accented -é in the vosotros form.
The IR form follows a similar pattern to ER, changing only in the nosotros and vosotros forms.
|Él / ella / usted||viv||-e|
|Ellos / ellas / ustedes||viv||-en|
Note the accented -í in the vosotros form.
Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense – Stem Changing Verbs
Many verbs are irregular in the present tense, with three common changes affecting the stems of the verbs, rather than their endings.
- E to EI
- O to UE
- E to I
These changes happen in all forms except the nosotros and vosotros forms. For example
|Él / ella / usted||puede||quiere||repite|
|Ellos / ellas / ustedes||pueden||quieren||repiten|
See more stem changing verbs.
Test yourself on those wicked stem changers. i:ie, o:ue and i:e. Can you remember which persons change and which stay the same?
(For extra kudos from your profesor/a, here’s how to type Spanish accents correctly.)
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Other Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense
Many other Spanish verbs are irregular in the present tense, including common verbs such as estar and ser. In many verbs, the only the first person singular (yo) form is irregular; some verbs have irregular first person singular and other patterns of irregularity, for example venir and tener.
Where this is the case, it’s worth memorising all of them, because they will affect the conjugation of the Presente de Subjuntivo tense in all person forms.