Easy Learning Spanish

The present simple tense - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish

1   Forming the present simple tense of regular -ar verbs

  • If the infinitive of the Spanish verb ends in -ar, it means that the verb belongs to the first conjugation, for example, hablar, lavar, llamar.
  • To know which form of the verb to use in Spanish, you need to work out what the stem of the verb is and then add the correct ending. The stem of regular -ar verbs in the present simple tense is formed by taking the infinitive and chopping off -ar.
InfinitiveStem (without -ar)
hablar (to speak)habl-
lavar (to wash)lav-
  • Now you know how to find the stem of a verb you can add the correct ending. The one you choose will depend on who or what is doing the action.
  • Note that as the ending generally makes it clear who is doing the action, you usually don’t need to add a subject pronoun such as yo (meaning I), (meaning you) as well.
  • For more information on Subject pronouns, see Pronouns.
  • Here are the present simple endings for regular -ar verbs:
Present simple endingsPresent simple of hablarMeaning: to speak
-o(yo) habloI speak
-as(tú) hablasyou speak
-a(él/ella) hablahe/she/it speaks
(usted) hablayou speak
-amos(nosotros/nosotras) hablamoswe speak
-áis(vosotros/vosotras) habláisyou speak
-an(ellos/ellas) hablan
(ustedes) hablan
they speak
you speak
  • You use the él/ella (third person singular) form of the verb with nouns and with people’s names, when you are just talking about one person, animal or thing.
Lydia estudia medicina.Lydia studies or is studying medicine.
Mi profesor me ayuda mucho.My teacher helps me a lot.
  • You use the ellos/ellas (third person plural) form of the verb with nouns and with people’s names, when you are talking about more than one person, animal or thing.
Lydia y Carlos estudian medicina.Lydia and Carlos study or are studying medicine.
Mis profesores me ayudan mucho.My teachers help me a lot.
  • Note that even though you use the él/ella and ellos/ellas forms of the verb to talk about things in Spanish, you should never include the pronouns él, ella, ellos or ellas themselves in the sentence when referring to things.
Funciona bien.It works well.
Funcionan bien.They work well.
  • For more information on Ways of saying ‘you’ in Spanish, see Pronouns.
Key points
  • Verbs ending in -ar belong to the first conjugation. Regular -ar verbs form their present tense stem by losing the -ar.
  • The present tense endings for regular -ar verbs are: -o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an.
  • You usually don’t need to give a pronoun in Spanish as the ending of the verb makes it clear who or what is doing the action.

2   Forming the present simple tense of regular -er verbs

  • If the infinitive of the Spanish verb ends in -er, it means that the verb belongs to the second conjugation, for example, comer, depender.
  • The stem of regular -er verbs in the present simple tense is formed by taking the infinitive and chopping off -er.
InfinitiveStem (without -er)
comer (to eat)com-
depender (to depend)depend-
  • Now add the correct ending, depending on who or what is doing the action.
  • Note that as the ending generally makes it clear who is doing the action, you usually don’t need to add a subject pronoun such as yo (meaning I) or (meaning you) as well.
  • For more information on Subject pronouns, see Pronouns.
  • Here are the present simple endings for regular -er verbs:
Present simple endingsPresent simple of comerMeaning: to eat
-o(yo) comoI eat
-es(tú) comesyou eat
-e(él/ella) comehe/she/it eats
(usted) comeyou eat
-emos(nosotros/nosotras) comemoswe eat
-éis(vosotros/vosotras) coméisyou eat
-en(ellos/ellas) comenthey eat
(ustedes) comenyou eat
  • You use the él/ella (third person singular) form of the verb with nouns and with people’s names, when you are just talking about one person, animal or thing.
Juan come demasiado.Juan eats too much.
Mi padre me debe 15 euros.My father owes me 15 euros.
  • You use the ellos/ellas (third person plural) form of the verb with nouns and with people’s names, when you talking about more than one person, animal or thing.
Juan y Pedro comen demasiado.Juan and Pedro eat too much.
Mis padres me deben 15 euros.My parents owe me 15 euros.
  • Note that even though you use the él/ella and ellos/ellas forms of the verb to talk about things in Spanish, you should never include the pronouns él, ella, ellos or ellas themselves in the sentence when referring to things.
Depende.It depends.
  • For more information on Ways of saying ‘you’ in Spanish, see Pronouns.
Key points
  • Verbs ending in -er belong to the second conjugation. Regular -er verbs form their present tense stem by losing the -er.
  • The present tense endings for regular -er verbs are: -o, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en.
  • You usually don’t need to give a pronoun in Spanish as the ending of the verb makes it clear who or what is doing the action.

3   Forming the present simple tense of regular -ir verbs

  • If the infinitive of the Spanish verb ends in -ir, it means that the verb belongs to the third conjugation, for example, vivir, recibir.
  • The stem of regular -ir verbs in the present simple tense is formed by taking the infinitive and chopping off -ir.
InfinitiveStem (without -ir)
vivir (to live)viv-
recibir (to receive)recib-
  • Now add the correct ending depending on who or what is doing the action.
  • Note that as the ending generally makes it clear who is doing the action, you usually don’t need to add a subject pronoun such as yo (meaning I) or (meaning you) as well.
  • For more information on Subject pronouns, see Pronouns.
  • Here are the present simple endings for regular -ir verbs:
Present simple endingsPresent simple of vivirMeaning: to live
-o(yo) vivoI live
-es(tú) vivesyou live
-e(él/ella) vivehe/she/it lives
(usted) viveyou live
-imos(nosotros/nosotras) vivimoswe live
-ís(vosotros/vosotras) vivísyou live
-en(ellos/ellas) viventhey live
(ustedes) vivenyou live
  • You use the él/ella (third person singular) form of the verb with nouns and with people’s names, when you are just talking about one person, animal or thing.
Javier vive aquí.Javier lives here.
Mi padre recibe muchas cartas.My father gets a lot of letters.
  • You use the ellos/ellas (third person plural) form of the verb with nouns and with people’s names, when you talking about more than one person, animal or thing.
Javier y Antonia viven aquí.Javier and Antonia live here.
Mis padres reciben muchas cartas.My parents get a lot of letters.
  • Note that even though you use the él/ella and ellos/ellas forms of the verb to talk about things in Spanish, you should never include the pronouns él, ella, ellos or ellas themselves in the sentence when referring to things.
Ocurrió ayer.It happened yesterday.
  • For more information on Ways of saying ‘you’ in Spanish, see Pronouns.
Key points
  • Verbs ending in -ir belong to the third conjugation. Regular -ir verbs form their present tense stem by losing the -ir.
  • The present tense endings for regular -ir verbs are: - o, -es, -e, -imos, -ís, -en.
  • You usually don’t need to give a pronoun in Spanish as the ending of the verb makes it clear who or what is doing the action.

4   Forming the present simple tense of less regular verbs

  • Many Spanish verbs do not follow the regular patterns shown previously. There are lots of verbs that change their stem in the present tense when the stress is on the stem. This means that all forms are affected in the present simple apart from the nosotros and vosotros forms. Such verbs are often called radical-changing verbs, meaning root-changing verbs.
  • For example, some verbs containing an -o in the stem change it to -ue in the present simple for all forms APART FROM the nosotros/nosotras and vosotros/vosotras forms.
encontrar to findrecordar to rememberpoder to be abledormir to sleep
(yo)encuentrorecuerdopuedoduermo
(tú)encuentrasrecuerdaspuedesduermes
(él/ella/usted)encuentrarecuerdapuededuerme
(nosotros/as)encontramosrecordamospodemosdormimos
(vosotros/as)encontráisrecordáispodéisdormís
(ellos/ellas/ustedes)encuentranrecuerdanpuedenduermen
  • Other verbs containing an -e in the stem change it to -ie for all forms apart from the nosotros/nosotras and vosotros/vosotras forms.
cerrar to closepensar to thinkentender to understandperder to losepreferir to prefer
(yo)cierropiensoentiendopierdoprefiero
(tú)cierraspiensasentiendespierdesprefieres
(él/ella/usted)cierrapiensaentiendepierdeprefiere
(nosotros/as)cerramospensamosentendemosperdemospreferimos
(vosotros/as)cerráispensáisentendéisperdéispreferís
(ellos/ellas/ustedes)cierranpiensanentiendenpierdenprefieren
  • A few -ir verbs containing -e in the stem change this to -i in the present simple for all forms apart from the nosotros/nosotras and vosotros/vosotras forms.
pedir to ask (for)servir to serve
(yo)pidosirvo
(tú)pidessirves
(él/ella/usted)pidesirve
(nosotros/as)pedimosservimos
(vosotros/as)pedísservís
(ellos/ellas/ustedes)pidensirven
  • If you are not sure whether a Spanish verb belongs to this group of radical-changing verbs, you can look up the Verb Tables in the middle section.
  • For more information on Spelling, see Spelling.

5   Forming the present simple tense of common irregular verbs

  • There are many other verbs that do not follow the usual patterns in Spanish. These include some very common and important verbs such as tener (meaning to have), hacer (meaning to do or to make) and ir (meaning to go). These verbs are shown in full on the next page.
  • Here are the present simple tense endings for tener:
tenerMeaning: to have
(yo)tengoI have
(tú)tienesyou have
(él/ella/usted)tienehe/she/it has, you have
(nosotros/nosotras)tenemoswe have
(vosotros/vosotras)tenéisyou have
(ellos/ellas/ustedes)tienenthey have, you have
Tengo dos hermanas.I have two sisters.
No tengo dinero.I haven’t any money.
¿Cuántos sellos tienes?How many stamps have you got?
Tiene el pelo rubio.He has blond hair.
  • Here are the present simple tense endings for hacer:
hacerMeaning: to do, to make
(yo)hagoI do, I make
(tú)hacesyou do, you make
(él/ella/usted)hacehe/she/it does, he/she/it makes, you do, you make
(nosotros/nosotras)hacemoswe do, we make
(vosotros/vosotras)hacéisyou do, you make
(ellos/ellas/ustedes)hacenthey do, they make, you do, you make
Hago una tortilla.I’m making an omelette.
No hago mucho deporte.I don’t do a lot of sport.
¿Qué haces?What are you doing?
Hace calor.It’s hot.
  • Here are the present simple tense endings for ir:
irMeaning: to go
(yo)voyI go
(tú)vasyou go
(él/ella/usted)vahe/she/it goes, you go
(nosotros/nosotras)vamoswe go
(vosotros/vosotras)vaisyou go
(ellos/ellas/ustedes)vanthey go, you go
Voy a Salamanca.I’m going to Salamanca.
¿Adónde vas?Where are you going?
No va al colegio.He doesn’t go to school.
No van a vender la casa.They aren’t going to sell the house.
  • For other irregular verbs in the present simple tense, see Verb Tables in the middle section.

6   How to use the present simple tense in Spanish

  • The present simple tense is often used in Spanish in the same way as it is in English, although there are some differences.
  • As in English, you use the Spanish present simple to talk about:
  • things that are generally true
En verano hace calor.It’s hot in summer.
  • things that are true now
Viven en Francia.They live in France.
  • things that happen all the time or at certain intervals or that you do asa habit
Marta lleva gafas.Marta wears glasses.
Mi tío vende mariscos.My uncle sells shellfish.
  • There are some instances when you would use the present simple in Spanish, but you wouldn’t use it in English:
  • to talk about current projects and activities that may not actually be going on right at this very minute
Construye una casa.He’s building a house.
  • to talk about things that you are planning to do
El domingo jugamos en León.We’re playing in León on Sunday.
Mañana voy a Madrid.I am going to Madrid tomorrow.
  • when you use certain time expressions in Spanish, especially desde (meaning since) and desde hace (meaning for), to talk about activities and states that started in the past and are still going on now
Jaime vive aquí desde hace dos años.Jaime has been living here for two years.
Daniel vive aquí desde 2009.Daniel has lived here since 2009.
Llevo horas esperando aquí.I’ve been waiting here for hours.
  • For more information on the use of tenses with desde, see Prepositions.

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