in , ,

The Simple Past (Preterite) of Stem-Changing Spanish Verbs

The Simple Past (Preterite) of Stem-Changing Spanish Verbs

The simple past or preterite is a verb form in Spanish that refers to verbs in the past tense, simple aspect, indicative mood, and active voice. Unlike the simple past (preterite) form of regular Spanish verbs, stem-changing verbs experience a vowel change in the third person singular and third person plural forms of the simple past (preterite). However, the endings of stem-changing verbs are identical to the past tense endings of regular verbs. The following sections explain the formation of the simple past (preterite) of stem-changing Spanish verbs.

Spanish Stem-Changing Verbs e:i

The first category of past tense stem-changing verbs that Spanish students must learn is the e:i verbs. When an e:i stem-changing verb is conjugated into the simple past (preterite), the e vowel in the stem changes to an i in the singular and plural third person. For example, the conjugation of the stem-changing verb pedir (e:i) “to ask for, to order” is as follows:

  • first person singular – stem + í – pedí
  • second person singular – stem + iste – pediste
  • third person singular – stem + stem-change + ió – pidió
  • first person plural – stem + imos – pedimos
  • second person plural – stem + isteis – pedisteis
  • third person plural – stem + stem-change + ieron – pidieron

Spanish students who have learned the list of stem-changing verbs in the simple present will find learning the stem-changing verbs in the simple past (preterite) quite easy. Spanish -ir verbs with an e:i or e:ie stem-change in the simple present are e:i stem-changing verbs in the simple past (preterite). Some of the most common e:i past tense stem-changing verbs include:

  • conseguir: to get, to obtain (e:i)
  • impedir: to impede (e:i)
  • pedir: to ask for, to order (e:i)
  • preferir: to prefer (e:i)
  • reír: to laugh (e:i)
  • repetir: to repeat (e:i)
  • seguir: to follow, to continue (e:i)
  • servir: to serve (e:i)
  • sonreír: to smile (e:i)

Note that only -ir verbs experience an e:i stem-change in the simple past (preterite)

Spanish Stem-Changing Verbs o:u

The second category of past tense stem-changing verbs that Spanish students must learn is the o:u verbs. When an o:u stem-changing verb is conjugated into the simple past (preterite), the o vowel in the stem changes to a u in the singular and plural third person. For example, the conjugation of the stem-changing verb dormir (o:u) “to sleep” is as follows:

  • first person singular – stem + í – dormí
  • second person singular – stem + iste – dormiste
  • third person singular – stem + stem-change + ió – durmió
  • first person plural – stem + imos – dormimos
  • second person plural – stem + isteis – dormisteis
  • third person plural – stem + stem-change + ieron – durmieron

Students who have again learned the present tense stem-changing verbs will learn the past tense stem-changing verbs with ease. Spanish -ir verbs with an o:ue stem-change in the simple present are o:u stem-changing verbs in the simple past (preterite). Some of the most common o:u past tense stem-changing verbs include:

  • dormir: to sleep (o:u)
  • morir: to die (o:u)

Note again that only -ir verbs experience an o:u stem-change in the simple past (preterite).

Past tense stem-changing verbs are verbs that experience a vowel change in the third person singular and third person plural forms in the simple past (preterite). Spanish language learners must learn to form the simple past (preterite) forms of stem-changing Spanish verbs in order to fully use and understand verbs the Spanish language.

For the conjugations of regular and irregular verbs in the preterite, please refer to The Simple Past (Preterite) of Regular Spanish Verbs, Spelling Changes of Simple Past (Preterite) Regular Spanish Verbs, and The Simple Past (Preterite) of Irregular Spanish Verbs.

Note: I have studied Spanish as a foreign language. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in my Spanish.

References

Ramboz, Ina. 2008. Spanish verbs & essentials of grammar (Verbs and Essentials of Grammar Series), 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Using Prepositional Phrases as Verb Phrase Complements

Using Prepositional Phrases as Verb Phrase Complements

Using Verb Phrases as Adjective Phrase Complements

Using Verb Phrases as Adjective Phrase Complements