How to conjugate Spanish present tense verbs

When you conjugate Spanish present tense verbs, memorization is not the only thing you want. You need a system to help you learn how verbs form.

You might ask: How do I use Spanish conjugation to learn verbs? Mainly, you address the type of verbs you want to tackle.

You learn the basic form and how to use them when you conjugate Spanish present tense verbs. Although rote memorization is often used to learn Spanish verbs, you might want to consider other ways to motivate you to learn verbs. More importantly, you need to learn their proper use.

Here, I show you the basic forms of Spanish present tense verbs, in particular with the ending of -ar, -er, and -ir:

Review Spanish regular verbs

Remember to use the singular and plural forms of the pronoun. In this case, you might want to consider each appropriate pronoun in Spanish.

Notice that in Spanish, you often use the pronoun form to designate the form of the regular verb. In the case of regular verbs, each person of the verb form indicates the type of verb you need. Besides being active verbs, these examples are just a few common verbs in Spanish.

For instance, look at the following examples how to conjugate Spanish present tense verbs:

Regular Spanish present tense verb ending with -ar

tomar (to take)

yo tomo

tú tomas

él, ella, usted toma

nosotros (as) tomamos

vosotros (as) tomáis

ellos, ellas toman

caminar (to walk)

yo camino

tú caminas

él, ella, usted camina

nosotros (as) caminamos

vosotros (as) camináis

ellos, ellas, ustedes caminan

cocinar (to cook)

yo cocino

tú cocinas

él, ella, usted cocina

nosotros (as) cocinamos

vosotros (as) cocináis

ellos, ellas, ustedes cocinan

Regular Spanish present tense verb ending with -er

beber (to drink)

yo bebo

tú bebes

él, ella, usted bebe

nosotros (as) bebemos

vosotros (as) bebéis

ellos, ellas, ustedes beben

entender (to understand)

yo entiendo

tú entiendes

él, ella, usted entiende

nosotros (as) entendemos

vosotros (as) entendéis

ellos, ellas, ustedes entienden

Regular Spanish present tense verb ending with -ir

subir (to go up)

yo subo

tú subes

él, ella, usted sube

nosotros (as) subimos

vosotros (as) subís

ellos, ellas, ustedes suben

vivir (to live)

yo vivo

tú vives

él, ella, usted vive

nosotros (as) vivimos

vosotros (as) vivís

ellos, ellas, ustedes viven

If you need the Spanish pronoun singular and plural form to help you conjugate during this lesson, you can get it here. Just keep in mind, that at first, you want to keep the singular and plural forms separate as you’re learning to conjugate each cognate part of the verbs.

Also, make sure to take note of the gender part when you conjugate Spanish present tense verbs. If you need to go back how to use gender in Spanish, then go back and review the gender-based lesson here.

General rules how to conjugate Spanish present tense verbs

As you conjugate Spanish present tense verbs, you need to know the basic general rules:

1. You’re using the present tense to state a being in the present.

You’re explaining what is happening right now. Most of the time, you’re using the present indicative form of regular verbs. Let’s take the scenario of a restaurant:

  • I walk to the restaurant close to my hotel. (Yo camino al restaurante cerca del hotel)
  • I go up the stairs to meet my friends at the restaurant. (Yo subo las escaleras para encontrarme con mis amigos en el restaurante).
  • I drink hot chocolate at the restaurant with my family. (Yo tomo chocolate caliente en el restaurante con mi familia)

In all those instances, you’re using the present tense of each verb in what’s happening right at this moment.

2. In using the Spanish present tense, you’re often referring to actions that happen all the time.

Spanish verbs are great ways to describe your immediate actions. The Spanish present tense state how many of our actions occur all the time.

Let’s look at the example of visiting a museum on vacation.

  • I take the bus to the museum. (Yo tomo el autobús hacia el museo.)
  • She understands how to use the guide map in the exhibit. (Ella entiende como usar la guía en la exposición.)
  • We walk to the second floor to see the beautiful gallery. (Nosotros caminamos hacia el segundo piso para mirar la preciosa galería.)
conjugate Spanish present tense verbs

3.  At other times, you use the Spanish present tense to show something endures for a long time.

Here are some examples:

  • I live in my apartment. (Yo vivo en mi departamento.)
  • He cooks a lot. (Él cocina mucho.)
  • They drink water all the time. (Ellas toman agua todo el tiempo.)

4.  Usually, it also shows the capacity to do something.

In many instances, the Spanish present tense is very useful to indicate actions about abilities.

Here are some examples of action verbs:

  • She plays the violin very well. (Ella toca el violín muy bien.)
  • They cook a meal to test a new recipe. (Ellos cocinan una comida para probar una receta.)
  • The little girl jumps over the puddle to get to the music concert. (La pequeña niña salta sobre el charco para ir al concierto de música.)
  • The music class practices all the time. (La clase de música practica todo el tiempo.)

5.  Also, it is used to indicate a plea, command, or petition. 

To indicate a petition or a command, you usually will use the present tense of a Spanish verb. Make sure to use the present indicative form of the verb.

Let’s take a look at these scenarios:

  • Do you understand the lesson? (¿Entiendes la lección?)
  • Why don’t you eat your food? (¿Por qué no comes la comida?)
  • That’s it; I don’t cook anymore. (¡Ya, no cocino más!)

Using a Spanish conjugation table

First, take the pronoun you want to use in your conversation or speech. Use the appropriate column from the conjugation table.

conjugate Spanish present tense

Here is an example for the verb tomar (to take):

  • First of all, you want to conjugate a singular pronoun with tomar.
  • Next, you look in the singular pronoun column of the table.
  • After, you look for the singular pronoun of choice.
  • Let’s use Ella (She).
  • Next, look for Ella, which is the appropriate verb conjugation – Ella toma. (She drinks)
  • Repeat the process for whichever subject-verb agreement you seek.

If you want more examples or tables, you can get them in the Language section.

Practice tips how to conjugate Spanish present tense verbs

The Spanish verb conjugation is a systematic way to learn grammar. But don’t get overwhelmed with all the rules about verbs. Consequently, use the table to guide through the process of verb conjugation.

Don’t get discouraged! Since Spanish regular verbs follow the pattern  -ar, -er, and -ir verbs, your Spanish learning is an easy task. Keep practicing, and you’ll be a master of Spanish verb in no time.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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