Common Irregular Spanish Verbs

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Irregular Spanish verbs follow certain patterns that differ from regular verbs, which is why we study them separately. This lesson lists the most common irregular verbs and includes basic conjugation rules for the simple present tense.

Patterns and Irregular Verbs

Both regular and irregular verbs in Spanish end in '-ar', '-er', or '-ir'. However, irregular verbs do not follow the patterns that a regular verb does for conjugation purposes. When you hear this, you might worry that learning irregular verbs will be hard. Well, great news! While there are some common irregular verbs you must learn to conjugate by heart, some irregular verbs follow specific patterns for the simple present conjugation, which is basic.

The existence of patterns gives you the advantage to quickly learn some of these irregular verbs. We begin this lesson with common irregular verbs you must learn by heart to then learn those that follow a pattern.

Basic Irregular Verbs

The following chart displays the verb in its infinitive form (ending in '-ar', '-er', or '-ir'), its meaning in English, and the simple present conjugation for the singular persons yo, tú, él, ella, and usted ('I', 'you' informal, 'he', 'she' and 'you' formal) and the plural persons nosotros/as, vosotros/as, ellos, ellas, and ustedes ('we' male and female, 'you' informal male and female, 'they' masculine and feminine, and 'you' formal) and an example to illustrate its use.

Verb Meaning Conjugation Singular Conjugation Plural Example
ser to be -for descriptive adjectives soy, eres, es somos, sois, son Yo soy puntual = I am punctual
estar to be -for location and mood estoy, estás, está estamos, estáis, están Ellos están tristes = They are sad
tener to have tengo, tienes, tiene tenemos, tenéis, tienen Nosotros tenemos una casa = We have a house
hacer to do/to make hago, haces, hace hacemos, hacéis, hacen Ella hace los deberes = She does the homework
ir to go voy, vas, va vamos, vais, van Yo voy a la playa = I go to the beach

Stem Changing Verbs

As mentioned before, many irregular verbs do follow a pattern. Their stem changes into a specific pattern when you conjugate them, then follow the same pattern as regular verbs in the present tense form. Let's take a look at how they work:

'E' to 'Ie'

This group of verbs change the 'e' vowel in their stem to 'ie', except for nosotros/as and vosotros/as. This chart displays the most common verbs:

Verb Meaning Conjugation Singular Conjugation Plural Example
pensar to think pienso, piensas, piensa pensamos, pensáis, piensan Ella piensa en él = She thinks of him
comenzar to start comienzo, comienzas, comienza comenzamos, comenzáis, comienzan Yo comienzo a estudiar = I start to study
querer to want quiero, quieres, quiere queremos, queréis, quieren I want an apple = You quiero una manzana
entender to understand entiendo, entiendes, entiende entendemos, entendéis, entienden Nosotros entendemos español = We understand Spanish
preferir to prefer prefiero, prefieres, prefiere preferimos, preferís, prefieren Ellos prefieren descansar = They prefer to rest

'O' to 'Ue'

This group of verbs change the 'o' vowel in their stem to 'ue', except for nosotros/as and vosotros/as. This chart displays the most common verbs:

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