Present & Preterite Tenses of Decir in Spanish

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  • 0:01 The Verb Decir
  • 0:23 Conjugation of Decir
  • 1:43 Use of Decir
  • 4:55 ?VAMOS A Practicar!
  • 6:26 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, we will learn how to conjugate and use the verb decir in Spanish in the present and preterite tenses. This is an irregular verb that is commonly used. We will also practice vocabulary related to community and volunteer work.

The Verb Decir

The verb decir in Spanish is an irregular verb that means 'to say' or 'to tell.' To tell you the truth, I really wanted to tell you about the verb decir. What do you say about it? We use decir a lot, especially if you enjoy talking and telling people all about everything everyone else said.

Conjugation of Decir

Let's take a look at the conjugation of the verb decir in the present and preterite:

Person\Tense Present Preterite

Yo digo dije

dices dijiste

Él/ella/usted dice dijo

Nosotros decimos dijimos

Vosotros decís dijisteis

Ellos/ellas/ustedes dicen dijeron

Notice that decir in the present tense is irregular in the yo form with a change from c to g.

Some other verbs that end in -go in the yo form are hacer, tener and venir. Decir is also irregular in the preterite tense just like other -cir verbs, such as conducir and traducir. Also, for the present tense there is a change from e > I in all forms but the nosotros and vosotros forms.

That change e > I happens in all forms for the preterite tense.

Use of Decir

Mainly, the verb decir means 'to say' or 'to tell'. It can sometimes be confused with hablar (to talk). Decir is to tell but not to recount a story. For that expression, in Spanish we use contar (to tell a story).


1. I told (decir) you to do your homework.

2. She said (decir) we were correct.

3. I will tell (contar) you the story of how I met your mother.

4. I talked (hablar) to Juliana.

Let's use the verb decir in the present tense:

1. Yo siempre digo la verdad en el hospital. (I always tell the truth in the hospital.)

2. Vosotros decís las cosas a los voluntarios sin pensar. (You say things to the volunteers without thinking.)

3. Nosotros les decimos las instrucciones para recoger las donaciones. (We tell you the instructions to pick up the donations.)

4. Ella no nos dice por qué llegó hasta ese barrio. (She doesn't tell us why she arrived at that neighborhood.)

5. Tú siempre quieres ayudar a los pobres. (You always want to help the poor.)

Now let's take a look at decir in the preterite tense. I wrote this one just for you:

1. Me dijiste que te dijo que dijeron

que no dije lo que yo iba a decir,

y no es cierto porque dije lo que dije

aunque digan que no dije... eso. (Sorry I couldn't find anything that rhymed) but this is the translation:

'You told me that he told you that they said,

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