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The Simple Present of Irregular Spanish Verbs

The Simple Present of Irregular Spanish Verbs

The simple present in Spanish is a verb form that refers to verbs in the present tense, simple aspect, indicative mood, and active voice. Unlike for regular verbs and stem-changing verbs, the conjugations for irregular verbs in the simple present are irregular and unpredictable. The most common irregular Spanish verbs in the simple present are:

  • estar: to be
  • dar: to give
  • decir: to say, to tell (e:i)
  • haber: to have
  • hacer: to make, to do
  • ir: to go
  • poner: to put, to place
  • saber: to know
  • ser: to be
  • tener: to have (e:ie)
  • venir: to come (e:ie)
  • ver: to see, to watch

The following sections explain the formation of the simple present of irregular Spanish verbs.

Ser and Estar

The verbs ser and estar—both of which mean “to be”—are the two most frequently used verbs in the Spanish language. Both verbs are irregular in one or more conjugation of the simple present. The conjugation of ser “to be (permanently)” is as follows:

  • first person singular – soy
  • second person singular – eres
  • third person singular – es
  • first person plural – somos
  • second person plural – sois
  • third person plural – son

The conjugation of estar “to be (temporarily)” is as follows:

  • first person singular – estoy
  • second person singular – estás
  • third person singular – está
  • first person plural – estamos
  • second person plural – estáis
  • third person plural – están

Ir and Dar

The verbs ir and dar are irregular in the first person singular conjugation of the simple present. The conjugation of ir “to go” is as follows:

  • first person singular – voy
  • second person singular – vas
  • third person singular – va
  • first person plural – vamos
  • second person plural – vais
  • third person plural – van

The conjugation of dar “to give” is as follows:

  • first person singular – doy
  • second person singular – das
  • third person singular – da
  • first person plural – damos
  • second person plural – dais
  • third person plural – dan

Note the absence of accent marks in the second person plural forms and the similarity of the first person singular ending to soy and estoy.

Tener, Venir, and Decir

The verbs tener, venir, and decir are stem-changing verbs that are irregular in the first person singular conjugation of the simple present. The conjugation of tener (e:ie) “to have” is as follows:

  • first person singular – tengo
  • second person singular – tienes
  • third person singular – tienes
  • first person plural – tenemos
  • second person plural – tenéis
  • third person plural – tienen

The conjugation of venir (e:ie) “to come” is as follows:

  • first person singular – vengo
  • second person singular – vienes
  • third person singular – viene
  • first person plural – venemos
  • second person plural – venís
  • third person plural – vienen

The conjugation of decir (e:i) “to say” is as follows:

  • first person singular – digo
  • second person singular – dices
  • third person singular – dice
  • first person plural – decimos
  • second person plural – decís
  • third person plural – dicen

Note the -go ending in the first person singular conjugation of all three verbs.

Hacer and Poner

The verbs hacer and poner are also irregular in the first person singular conjugation of the simple present. The conjugation of hacer “to make, to do” is as follows:

  • first person singular – hago
  • second person singular – haces
  • third person singular – hace
  • first person plural – hacemos
  • second person plural – hacéis
  • third person plural – hacen

The conjugation of poner “to put, to place” is as follows:

  • first person singular – pongo
  • second person singular – pones
  • third person singular – pone
  • first person plural – ponemos
  • second person plural – ponéis
  • third person plural – ponen

Note that the first person singular ending is the same as for tengo, vengo, and digo.

Ver and Saber

The verbs ver and saber are also irregular in the first person singular form of the simple present. The conjugation of ver “to see, to watch” is as follows:

  • first person singular – veo
  • second person singular – ves
  • third person singular – ve
  • first person plural – vemos
  • second person plural – véis
  • third person plural – ven

The conjugation of saber “to know” is as follows:

  • first person singular –
  • second person singular – sabes
  • third person singular – sabe
  • first person plural – sabemos
  • second person plural – sabéis
  • third person plural – saben

Haber

The auxiliary verb haber “to have” is irregular in all persons and numbers of the simple present except for the second person plural form.

  • first person singular – he
  • second person singular –has
  • third person singular – ha/hay
  • first person plural – hemos
  • second person plural – habéis
  • third person plural – han/hay

Note that when haber is used existentially (there is/there are), the form for both the singular and the plural is hay.

Irregular verbs are verbs whose conjugations are irregular and unpredictable in one or more persons and numbers in the simple present. Spanish language learners must learn to form the simple present forms of irregular Spanish verbs in order to fully use and understand verbs the Spanish language.

For the conjugation patterns for regular and stem-changing Spanish verbs, please read The Simple Present of Regular Spanish Verbs and The Simple Present of Stem-Changing 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.

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