Common Spanish Verbs - Top 100
A verb is a word that shows a state of being or an action. Most sentences, in normal discourse, will have a verb. Common Spanish verbs forms are derived from the infinitive. Spanish infinitives are divided into three groups: -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs. That is it! There are NO -ur verbs, or -or verbs as there would be in English.
Common Spanish verbs can be divided into two component parts: the stem--the part that remains after removing the -ar, -er, or -ir ending --and the ending -- the -ar, -er, or -ir that is attached to the stem. Both of these parts communicate vital information to the speaker and the listener . For example, the verb "hablar" means "to speak, to talk". The "person" tells who is speaking or who is being spoken to or about. First person is the speaker, "I" in English, "yo" in Spanish. Second person is the person(s) being spoken to, "you" in English, "tú, vosotros, usted, ustedes" in Spanish. Third person refers to the person(s) or thing(s) being spoken about, "he, she, it, they" in English, "él, ella, ellos, ellas" in Spanish. Number is simply singular or plural. For example, first person singular is "I" in English, "yo" in Spanish, while first person plural is "we" in English and "nosotros, nosotras" in Spanish. Tense is simply another word for time. It can only be past, present or future.
In addition to the various tenses, common Spanish verbs can exist in several different moods: indicative mood, subjunctive mood, conditional mood, and imperative mood. For example, the indicative mood is used to indicate state of being, or to express or ask for information. The subjunctive mood is used to express uncertainty, doubt, and denial. The imperative mood is used to give commands. The conditional mood expresses the concept of "would."
Another feature of common Spanish verbs we must be aware of is "aspect". The "perfect" is used in compound tenses, and it is formed by the auxiliary verb haber and the past participle of the main verb. An example in English would be, "I have studied", one example in Spanish is "(yo) he comido" (I have eaten). The imperfect is used to express past action that is ongoing, habitual or continuous. Finally, a Spanish verb can be non-progressive--"hablo", or progressive--"estoy hablando."
It is the seemingly innumerable combination of these four factors--person, number, tense, mood that result in the more than fifty forms which you will find in a Spanish verb table or Spanish verb chart. Although it will seem impossible at first, keep in mind that there are certain patterns which you will discover and these patterns will be the key in learning these many of these Spanish verb forms. You will never have success if you attempt to memorize every forms of every Spanish verb. The key to learning common Spanish verbs is being able to recognize repeating patterns.
The common Spanish verb lessons provided on this website use the following instructional strategies: Constructions, Cooperative Learning, Discussion/Questioning, Problem Solving, Reflection/Response and Practice/Drill.
The common Spanish verb lessons cover the first two levels and part of the third level of Bloom's Critical Thinking. Students should be able to exhibit previously learned material by recalling how to conjugate -er, -ir, and -ar verbs with level 1. They should also be able to translate and infer about the meanings of common Spanish verbs and vocabulary through level 2. Last, I expect many of the students to be able to apply and understand different patterns of common Spanish verbs and be able to construct sentences from these.
Basic Verb Forms
There are three basic forms of the verb, the infinitive, the present participle and the past participle. Each one has a variety of uses.
The infinitive is is the basic or "dictionary" form of the verb ending in -ar, -er, -ir. With a helping verb, the infinitive can serve as the main verb of a sentence or clause. It frequently functions like a noun; that is, it can acts as subject, direct object, etc. of another verb.
The Present Participle
The present participle form is idendtified by the -ando/-iendo ending. It is primarily used with helping verb estar to form the progressive tense, which expresses action in progress [Estamos comiendo. = 'We are eating.']. It can also function like an adverb to modify a verb [Salieron corriendo. = 'They left running.' (how did they leave?)].
Students overuse the present participle because of its rough, but deceiving, correspondence to the English present participle -ing. Unlike the -ing form, Spanish -ando/-iendo form cannot function as a noun [ (El) correr es bueno para la salud. = 'Running is good for your health.', not Corriendo es bueno para la salud.] or form adjectival phrases that modify nouns [el hombre que está corriendo por la calle = 'the man running down the street', not el hombre corriendo por la calle ].
The Past Participle
The past participle is identified by the -ado/-ido verb ending, but there are a number of irregulars past participles. It is used with the helping verb haber to form the compound perfect tense [Hemos comido. = 'We have eaten.']. It is also frequently used as an adjective [Eso es pan comido. = 'That is old news/water under the bridge.' (literally: 'That is eaten bread')]. It corresponds to to English -ed/-en forms.
Students can confuse the use of the past participle and the preterite [Yo viví en España. = 'I lived in Spain.' vs. Yo he vivido en España.= 'I have lived in Spain.']
Changing Verb Form
Two ways of changing verb forms are by conjugating the verb (changing its ending) or by adding a helping verb. Spanish prefers the former method, English the latter. Verb forms are changed to give information about person, tense, aspect, mood and voice. The next sections discusses each of these concepts in turn.
The Spanish verb ending indicates the person or 'subject' of verb. This permits Spanish to omit the subject in sentences.
1st. person refers to the speaker; 2nd. person refers to the listener or the person spoken to, and 3rd person refers to the person/thing spoken about.
The English verb to be is the only verb that really conjugates to indicate person (I am, You are, He is, ...). Other English verbs change form only to indicate 3rd person singular subjects (I travel, You travel, He travels, We travel, They travel) and then only in the present tense (I/You/He/We/They travelled). As a result, English cannot omit the subject noun/pronoun in sentences.
Spanish verbs change to indicate person and distinguish between singular and plural subjects in all tenses.
1st.Person (speaker): yo viajo = 'I travel' nosotros viajamos = 'we travel'
2nd.Person (spoken to): tú viajas = 'you travel' vosotros viajáis = 'y'all travel'
Usted viaja = 'you travel' Ustedes viajan = you travel'
3rd.Person (spoken about): ella viaja = 'she travels' ellos viajan = 'they travel'
Unlike English, Spanish 2nd person verbs distinguish formal (Usted/Ustedes) and informal (tú/vosotros) forms of address. The vosotros form is used only in Spain. However, in some areas of Latin America (Argentina, for example) a related vos verb form is used instead of or along with the tu form in informal address [Vos tenés muchos amigos. = 'You have many friends.']
Note that the 2nd person Usted(s)/ Ud(s) uses a 3rd person verb form. This is not as strange as it appears. Usted derives from old Spanish honorific Vuestra Merced = 'Your Mercy/Grace' and is still abbreviated Vd(s) in older texts. Vuestra Merced addresses the honored person indirectly (in 3rd person) through the title to show respect. English does the same thing in certain instances. Compare the following sentences:
Judge, you know my client is innocent. [direct address]
Your Honor knows my client is innocent. [indirect 3rd person form to address titled person.]