Ayudar Conjugation: Present, Preterite & Subjunctive

Instructor: Raychelle Heath

Raychelle has a BA in Spanish and an MFA in Writing. She has studied in Puerto Rico and currently lives in Mexico. She has taught Spanish in various settings.

We all need help sometimes. In this lesson you will learn how to conjugate the verb ''ayudar'' in the present, preterite, and subjunctive tenses. You will also learn a little about the personal ''a'' and object pronouns.

Need Help?

We all need to ask for help at some point, and luckily there are a lot of helpful people in this world just waiting to lend a hand. Perhaps you've just arrived to a new city and have no idea how to find your hotel. You'll need help!

The Spanish verb for 'to help' is ayudar, so I would say Ella me ayudó (She helped me). Being helped feels good, but it is also nice to help people when you can. For those instances you might say something like Yo te ayude si puedo (I will help if I can). Let's take a closer look at the verb ayudar and some more examples of how to use it.

Present Tense

The verb ayudar follows the rules for -ar verbs in the present tense. Its conjugation looks like this:

Subject Pronoun Present Tense of Ayudar Pronunciation Translation
Yo ayudo ah-YOO-doe I help
ayudas ah-YOO-das You help (informal)
Él, ella, usted ayuda ah-YOO-da He, she, you (formal) helps
Nosotros/nosotras ayudamos ah-yoo-DA-mose We help
Ellos, ellas, ustedes ayudan ah-YOO-dan They (male, female), you (plural formal) help

Remember that in Spanish the subject usually isn't named unless it is necessary to the meaning of the phrase. When talking about helping someone, make sure you remember to use the personal a.

  • Ayudo a mi mamá. (I help my mom.) Subject is not necessary because the -o ending only applies to yo.
  • Él ayuda a la maestra. (He helps the teacher.) Subject is necessary because the -a ending could apply to él, ella, or Usted.
  • Ayudamos al perro. (We help the dog.) Subject is not necessary because the -amos ending only applies to nosotros/nosotras.

Let's look at a sample conversation between two friends.

Claudia: ¿Adónde vas? (Where are you going?)

Sandra: Voy a la biblioteca. Ayudo allí en las tardes. (I am going to the library. I help there in the afternoons.)

Claudia: ¿Eres voluntaria? (Are you a volunteer?)

Sandra: Sí, ayudo a los bibliotecarios con los libros. (Yes, I help the librarians with the books.)

Claudia: Muy bien. Yo soy voluntaria, también. Mi mamá y yo ayudamos en una escuela. (Very good. I am a volunteer, also. My mom and I help at a school.)

Ella ayuda en una escuela. Translation: She helps in a school.
Tutor helping a student

Sandra: Genial. Me gusta mucho ayudar a la gente. (Cool. I like to help people a lot.)

Preterite Tense

The verb ayudar follows the rules for -ar verbs in the preterite tense. Remember that preterite tense is used when an action occurred one time in the past. The conjugation looks like this:

Subject Pronoun Preterite Tense of Ayudar Pronunciation Translation
Yo ayudé ah-yoo-DAY I helped
ayudaste ah-yoo-DAS-tay You helped (informal)
Él, ella, usted ayudó ah-yoo-DOE He, she, you (formal) helped
Nosotros/nosotras ayudamos ah-yoo-DA-mose We helped
Ellos, ellas, ustedes ayudaron ah-yoo-DA-rone They (male, female), you (plural formal) helped

Use the preposition con (with) when you want to talk about helping with something.

  • Ayudaron con el proyecto. (They helped with the project.)
  • Ayudaste con la ropa. (You helped with the clothes.)
  • Ella ayudó con los niños (She helped with the children.)

Translation: She helped with the project.
help lady

Subjunctive Tense

Sometimes we aren't sure if we can help. For these occasions, we need the subjunctive. The subjunctive is used when there is doubt about whether something will happen or not. Ayudar follows the rules for regular -ar verbs in the subjunctive. The conjugation looks like this:

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