Conjugating Regular -ER & -IR Verbs in the Preterite in Spanish

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  • 0:04 Preterit Tense
  • 0:35 Regular ER & IR Verbs
  • 5:05 The Verb Ver
  • 5:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pablo Serna

Pablo has taught college Spanish at the University of Missouri and Central Methodist University, and has a master's degree in Spanish literature.

In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate regular -ER, and -IR verbs in Spanish to be able to describe situations in the past that are seen by the speaker as completed, or that describe a chain of actions in the past.

Preterit Tense

The preterit in Spanish describes actions, situations, and events that are seen by the speaker as completed and regularly have a specific time frame, beginning or end, or talks about a chain of events in the past.

There are some expressions that give us a context about the past, such as ayer (yesterday), la semana pasada (last week), and hace 3 años (three years ago).

Regular -ER and -IR Verbs

To form the verbs that are regular in the preterit, we remove the -ER or -IR part of the verb and add the endings -í, -iste, -ió, -imos, -isteis and -ieron. The yo and él/ella/usted verbs in the preterit tense have accents marks.

As you can see, we used the regular verb 'comer', we took out the -ER part and we use the stem 'com' + 'í' for the yo form. Yo comí.

These are some -ER and -IR verbs conjugated with other subjects:

Beber (to drink) Correr (to run) Vivir (to live) Salir (to leave/to go out)
Yo bebí Él corrió Vosotros vivisteis Ellos salieron
Tú bebiste Nosotros corrimos Ellos vivieron Ustedes salieron

When we conjugate an -IR verb in the preterit using the nosotros form, notice that it has the same form as the present tense, just like the -AR verbs. Taking the context of the situation into consideration, we will know what tense the speaker is using.

Some examples are:

  • Ayer nosotros escribimos 3 páginas completas del ensayo.

Yesterday we wrote 3 full pages of the essay.

  • Nosotros escribimos un libro cada año.

We write a book each year.

Here we have some examples of -ER and -IR verbs in the preterit:

  • Nosotros corrimos en el maratón el año pasado.

We ran the marathon last year.

  • Bebimos mucha agua para la sed.

We drank a lot of water for the thirst.

  • Tú aprendiste la lección de química.

You learned the chemistry lesson.

  • Yo leí el libro de 'Don Quijote de La Mancha' hace un mes.

I read the book Don Quijote de La Mancha a month ago.

  • Compartiste tu fortuna.

You shared your fortune.

  • Él abrió su carro.

He opened his car.

  • Ocurrieron muchos desastres naturales.

A lot of natural disasters occurred.

Also, the preterit is used to talk about a chain of actions in the past:

  • Juanita escribió un libro, lo vendió a la casa editorial y ganó mucho dinero. (Juanita wrote a book, sold it to the publishing company and earned a lot of money.)

Let's practice! Let's look at the pictures and complete the sentences before I do:

Man and tacos

Yo comí (comer) tacos el martes. (I ate tacos on Tuesday.)

Person studying

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