Destruir Conjugation: Preterite & Present Tenses

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.

The verb 'destruir' means 'to destroy.' In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate ''destruir'' in the preterite and present tenses. You will also see examples of how to use the verb, including a glimpse at a day with a demolition crew.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Pablo's wrecking company has been hired to tear down some old apartments to make room for a new green space. He and his workers will destroy many structures to make space for something new. They'll need the verb destruir (pronounces: des-TRU-ear), which means 'to destroy,' when talking about knocking down all the old structures.

Let's learn how to conjugate the verb destruir and look at some examples.

Destruir in the Preterite Tense

The preterite tense is used to talk about things that happened in the immediate past. The verb destruir is mostly regular in the preterite tense. However, for the third-person singular and plural, there is an 'i' to 'y' shift.

Subject Pronoun Preterite Tense Pronunciation Translation
yo destruí des-tru-EE I destroyed
destruiste des-tru-EES-tay You (informal) destroyed
él, ella, usted destruyó des-tru-YO He, she, you (formal) destroyed
nosotros/nosotras destruimos des-tru-EE-mose We destroyed
vosotros/vosotras destruisteis des-tru-ee-STAY-ees You (plural, informal) destroyed
ellos, ellas, ustedes destruyeron des-tru-YEH-rone They (male, female), you (plural, informal) destroyed

Examples in the Preterite

Here are some examples of destruir in past tense:

  • El perro destruyó a mis zapatos. (The dog destroyed my shoes.)
  • Este año pasaron dos huracanes que casi destruyeron al pueblo. (This year there were two hurricanes that almost destroyed the town.)
  • Destruimos muchas cosas cuando eramos niños. (We destroyed many things when we were kids.)

Two hurricanes almost destroyed the town.
huracanes destruyeron

Now, let's return to Pedro and his wrecking crew. He and a coworker are discussing the buildings they destroyed last year:

  • Pedro: El año pasado destruimos más que cien edificios fuera de uso. Fue un año muy bueno. (Last year we destroyed more than one hundred builds that were out of use. It was a good year.)
  • Worker: Sí, pero tambien fue muy duro. Especialmente para el equipo tres. Ellos destruyeron unos lugares muy peligrosos. (Yes, but it was also hard. Especially for team three. They destroyed some dangerous places.)
  • Pedro: Tienes razón. Pero somos profesionales y sabemos como hacer bien el trabajo. (You are right. But we are professionals and we know how to do the job well.)

Destruir in the Present Tense

The present tense is used to talk about habits and actions that happen in the present. The verb destruir is regular for the nosotros and vosotros forms in the present tense, but makes an 'i' to 'y' shift in all other forms.

Subject Pronoun Present Tense Pronunciation Translation
yo destruyo des-TRU-yo I destroy
destruyes des-TRU-yase You (informal) destroy
él, ella, usted destruye des-TRU-yay He, she, you (formal) destroys
nosotros/nosotras destruimos des-tru-EE-mose We destroy
vosotros/vosotras destruís des-tru-EES You (plural, informal) destroy
ellos, ellas, ustedes destruyen des-TRU-yen They (male, female), you (plural, informal) destroy

Examples in the Present

Here are a few examples of destruir in the present tense:

  • Los niños destruyen la piñata. (The children destroy the piñata.)
  • ¿Como destruyes la evidencia? (How do you destroy the evidence?)
  • Cuando termino con mis cuadernos, los destruyo. (When I finish with my notebooks, I destroy them.)

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