Spanish Conjugation Lesson

Spanish conjugation refers to the way that the infinitive verb forms are changed to reflect who is performing the action and when it takes place.

For native English speakers the idea of conjugating verbs can be a little overwhelming. Try not to let this bother you. In most cases there are basic rules to follow and once you master these Spanish conjugation becomes quite easy.

Characteristics of conjugation

There are several factors that determine the way that a verb is conjugated in Spanish. These are:

  1. The tense (whether the action takes place in the past, present or future)
  2. The actor (the person/people performing the action)
  3. The form of the infinitive (whether it ends in AR, ER or IR)
  4. The structure of the sentence
  5. Whether the verb is regular or irregular

You will learn how all of these factors work together as you progress with your Spanish studies.

Using Spanish Conjugation

The first tense that you will learn in Spanish is the present tense. Conjugating verbs in the present tense allows you to talk about actions or states that are occurring now. As with all tenses, verbs in the present tense are conjugated according to the last two letters of the infinitive.

The first step in conjugating verbs in the present tense is to remove the last two letters (AR/ER/IR) from the infinitive form. The next step is to add new endings depending on who is performing the action. These endings are different for each of the three types of verbs. They are as follows:

AR verbs – o, as, a, amos, an

The Spanish conjugation of “hablar” (to speak) in the present tense is:

Yo hablO – I speak

Tú hablAS – You (informal) speak

El / Ella / Usted hablA – He / She / You (formal) speak

Nosotros hablAMOS – We speak

Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes hablAN – They / You all speak

ER verbs – o, es, e, emos, en

The conjugation of “comer” (to eat) in the present tense is:

Yo comO – I eat

Tú comES – You (informal) eat

El / Ella / Usted comE – He / She / You (formal) eat

Nosotros comEMOS – We eat

Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes comEN – They / You all eat

IR verbs – o, es, e, imos, en

The Spanish conjugation of “vivir” (to live) in the present tense is:

Yo vivO – I live

Tú vivES – You (informal) live

El / Ella / Usted vivE – He / She / You (formal) lives

Nosotros vivIMOS – We live

Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes vivEN – They / You all live

Because the conjugation of the verb contains information about the person performing the action, the pronoun is often irrelevant. For example, instead of saying “Yo vivo en Mexico”, you can simply say “Vivo in Mexico” because the “Yo” pronoun is implied in the conjugation.

Exceptions

Unfortunately for Spanish students, there are numerous verbs that don’t follow the Spanish conjugation rules. These are known as irregular verbs. A common example of this type of verb is “IR” (to go) which is conjugated as follows in the present tense:

Yo voy

Tú vas

El / Ella / Usted va

Nosotros vamos

Ellos / Ellas / van

Differences between European Spanish and Latin American conjugation

Conjugations differences exist in countries where there are different subject pronouns (for further information about this, see Spanish pronouns .

You can get yourself some free Spanish lessons here.