Danielle teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds a Doctor of Education with research concentration in Study Abroad and Foreign Language Acquisition.
Hablar, estudiar, usar, bailar, practicar, enseñar, trabajar, necesitar… These are -ar verbs, and I bet you can guess why we call them that! In Spanish, there are three kinds of verbs: -ar, -er, and -ir, all of which are the 'to' part of the verb. Vamos! Let's learn how to conjugate -ar verbs!
hablar - to talk
estudiar - to study
usar - to use
bailar - to dance
practicar - to practice
enseñar - to teach
trabajar - to work
necesitar - to need
So, we know how to say…. To talk! To study! To practice! But that's not how we communicate. In order to converse, we need to conjugate the verb. Let's break one down in English and then in Spanish.
Conjugating -AR Verbs
The five conjugations of the English verb 'to talk' are:
|I talk||We talk|
|He/she/it talks||They talk/you guys talk|
Note that the left side of the chart is singular and the right side is plural.
Now it's time to conjugate in Spanish! Hablar means 'to talk,' so this is the verb we need. The first thing we do is remove the -ar from the end:
'Hablar' becomes 'habl-,' which is our stem.
Now we need our -ar endings. What are they? They are:
And note, again, how I've written them. The three on the left are singular and two on the right are plural.
|hablo (I talk)||hablamos (we talk)|
|hablas (you familiar talk)|
|habla (He, she, it talks/you formal talk)||hablan (they talk/you guys talk)|
|habláis (you informal talk)||(you guys talk)|
These are the six conjugations of the verb 'hablar.' Yea! We conjugated a verb, which is a very big deal if you want to converse in Spanish. Just note that the form áis is only used for 'you informal' (vosotros), which is only used in Spain, not in Latin America.
Now let's look at something very important. Let's compare the English chart to the Spanish, side by side:
|I talk||we talk||hablo||hablamos|
|He/she/it talks||they talk||habla||hablan|
Two Things to Remember
There are two things we must keep in mind in order to understand present tense Spanish verbs:
1.) Each Spanish conjugation is two words in one in English, and this works just fine for Spanish speakers because each conjugation is different. We can't do this in English because our conjugations overlap. Of our five conjugations, there are only two different words: 'talk' and 'talks.' So we have to use our subject pronouns (I, you, he, etc.) all the time in order to describe and follow the conversation. In Spanish, this is not necessary, so Hispanics normally use subject pronouns only for emphasis or clarity when needed.
2.) The present tense in Spanish can also be translated as '-ing' in English, according to context. 'Hablo' can mean 'I talk' or 'I'm talking.' Usually, it will mean 'I talk,' but sometimes the better English translation is 'I'm talking,' so use context clues if the sentence doesn't make sense at first. Trying the '-ing' translation may make the sentence make sense!
Okay, time for another one! Let's do bailar. Take off the -ar, and your stem is 'bail-.' Now add your endings, in order:
|bailo (I dance)||bailamos (we dance)|
|bailas (you familiar dance)|
|baila (he, she, it dances/you formal dance)||bailan (they dance/you guys dance)|
The other verbs I mentioned - estudiar, trabajar, practicar and usar - are all conjugated the same way. Now, let's see how all of our -ar verbs work in sentences:
Enseñar : Yo enseño español. = I teach Spanish.
Estudiar : Tú estudias español. = You (familiar) study Spanish.
Trabajar : Ella trabaja mucho. = She works a lot.
Practicar : Nosotros practicamos deportes. = We play (or practice) sports.
Usar : Ellos usan la computadora. = They use the computer.
1.) -Ar verbs have six endings: o, as, a, amos, áis, an. To conjugate the verb, we remove the -ar and add our endings:
'Hablar' becomes 'habl-.'
2.) While pronouns can be used when conjugating verbs, they are optional because all six conjugations are different from one another.
3.) Present tense in Spanish can include the '-ing' form, if denoted by context: Hablo can mean 'I talk' or 'I'm talking,' according to context.
4.) Remember that when you make charts, divide everything into singular and plural to make memorization a smoother, easier process!
After watching this lesson, you should be able to understand how to conjugate -ar verbs in Spanish and use them properly in sentences.
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