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Spelling Changes of Simple Present Regular Spanish Verbs

Spelling Changes of Simple Present Regular Spanish Verbs

The simple present is a conjugated verb form in the Spanish language that refers to verbs in the present tense, simple aspect, indicative mood, and active voice. Unlike most regular verbs in the simple present, some regular verbs experience a slight spelling change. However, the endings of the regular verbs with spelling change are identical to the present tense endings of regular verbs. The following sections explain the formation of the simple present of Spanish verbs with orthographic changes.

Spanish -ger and -gir Verbs

The first category of regular Spanish verbs with slight spelling changes in the simple present is the -ger and -gir verbs. When a -ger and -gir verb is conjugated into the simple present, the g changes to a j in the first person singular form. For example:

-ger (recoger)

  • first person singular – recojo
  • second person singular – recoges
  • third person singular – recoge
  • first person plural – recogemos
  • second person plural – recogéis
  • third person plural – recogen

-gir (surgir)

  • first person singular – surjo
  • second person singular – surges
  • third person singular – surge
  • first person plural – surgimos
  • second person plural – surgís
  • third person plural – surgen

Other -ger and -gir verbs include:

  • coger
  • colegir (e:i)
  • corregir (e:i)
  • dirigir
  • elegir (e:i)
  • escoger
  • exigir
  • fingir
  • proteger
  • recoger
  • sumergir
  • surgir

Note that some of the -ger and -gir verbs are stem-changing verbs.

Spanish -guir Verbs

The second category of regular Spanish verbs with slight spelling changes in the simple present is the -guir verbs. When an -guir verb is conjugated into the simple present, the gu changes to a g in the first person singular form. For example:

-guir (distinguir)

  • first person singular – distingo
  • second person singular – distingues
  • third person singular – distingue
  • first person plural – distinguimos
  • second person plural – distinguís
  • third person plural – distinguen

Other -guir verbs include:

  • conseguir (e:i)
  • distinguir
  • erguir (e:i)
  • extinguir
  • perseguir (e:i)
  • seguir (e:i)

Spanish -uir Verbs

The third category of regular Spanish verbs with slight spelling changes in the simple present is the -uir verbs (but not -guir verbs). When a -uir verb is conjugated into the simple present, add a y before an e and o ending. For example:

-uir (fluir)

  • first person singular – fluyo
  • second person singular – fluyes
  • third person singular – fluye
  • first person plural – fluimos
  • second person plural – fluís
  • third person plural – fluyen

Other -uir verbs include:

  • atribuir
  • concluir
  • constituir
  • construir
  • contribuir
  • distribuir
  • destruir
  • disminuir
  • excluir
  • fluir
  • huir
  • incluir
  • influir
  • instruir
  • sustituir

Spanish consonant + -cer and -cir Verbs

The fourth category of regular Spanish verbs with slight spelling changes in the simple present is the consonant + -cer and -cir verbs. When a consonant + -cer and -cir verb is conjugated into the simple present, the c changes to a z in the first person singular form. For example:

-cer (vencer)

  • first person singular – venzo
  • second person singular – vences
  • third person singular – vence
  • first person plural – vencemos
  • second person plural – vencéis
  • third person plural – vencen

-cir (zurcir)

  • first person singular – zurzo
  • second person singular – zurces
  • third person singular – zurce
  • first person plural – zurcimos
  • second person plural – zurcís
  • third person plural – zurcen

Other consonant + -cer and -cir verbs include:

  • coercer
  • convencer
  • ejercer
  • esparcir
  • mecer*
  • remecer*
  • vencer
  • zurcir

*The verbs mecer and remecer follow the c to z pattern although a vowel precedes the -cer ending.

Spanish vowel + -cer and -cir Verbs

The fifth category of regular Spanish verbs with slight spelling changes in the simple present is the vowel + -cer and -cir verbs. When a vowel + -cer and -cir verb is conjugated into the simple present, the c changes to a zc in the first person singular form. For example:

-cer (nacer)

  • first person singular – nazco
  • second person singular – naces
  • third person singular – nace
  • first person plural – nacemos
  • second person plural – nacéis
  • third person plural – nacen

-cir (lucir)

  • first person singular – luzco
  • second person singular – luces
  • third person singular – luce
  • first person plural – lucimos
  • second person plural – lucís
  • third person plural – lucen

The only exceptions to the vowel + -cer and -cir verb rules are hacer and decir. Other vowel + -cer and -cir verbs include:

  • agradecer
  • aparecer
  • carecer
  • compadecer
  • conducir
  • conocer
  • crecer
  • deducir
  • desaparecer
  • deslucir
  • establecer
  • inducir
  • introducir
  • lucir
  • merecer
  • nacer
  • obedecer
  • ofrecer
  • parecer
  • pertenecer
  • placer
  • producir
  • reconocer
  • reducir
  • reproducir
  • traducir
  • yacer

Spanish -iar and -uar Verbs

The sixth category of regular Spanish verbs with slight spelling changes in the simple present is the -iar and -uar verbs. When most -iar and -uar verbs are conjugated into the simple present, the i or u takes an accent in the singular and third person plural forms. For example:

-iar (criar)

  • first person singular – crío
  • second person singular – crías
  • third person singular – cría
  • first person plural – criamos
  • second person plural – criáis
  • third person plural – crían

-uar (actuar)

  • first person singular – actúo
  • second person singular – actúas
  • third person singular – actúa
  • first person plural – actuamos
  • second person plural – actuáis
  • third person plural – actúan

Other vowel + -iar and -uar verbs include:

  • acentuar
  • actuar
  • ampliar
  • confiar
  • continuar
  • criar
  • enviar
  • espiar
  • fiar
  • graduar
  • habituar
  • liar
  • situar
  • valuar
  • variar

Some regular Spanish verbs undergo slight spelling changes in the simple present. Spanish language students must learn these orthographic changes in the simple present forms of Spanish verbs in order to fully use and understand verbs the Spanish language.

For the conjugation patterns for irregular and stem-changing Spanish verbs, please read The Simple Present of Irregular 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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