Spanish Grammar: Preterite Conjugations of Venir, Poner, Decir & Traer

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  • 0:40 Review: Hacer, Saber, & Estar
  • 1:36 Irregular Preterite Endings
  • 3:48 Venir & Poner
  • 5:32 Traer & Decir
  • 7:16 Practica
  • 9:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: April Schmidt

April has a Ph.D. in Spanish and has taught college-level Spanish for 10+ years.

Is the word vine English for 'a climbing plant,' or is it Spanish for 'I came?' Does 'traje' mean 'a suit of clothes' or 'I brought' in Spanish? You'll found out in this lesson as you learn the preterite tense of the verbs venir, poner, traer, and decir.

Irregular Verbs in the Preterite

As you already know, many verbs are irregular in the preterite tense. So far, you have learned to conjugate a number of these verbs, including ir (to go), dar (to give), hacer (to do, make), saber (to know), ser (to be), and estar (to be). In this lesson, you will be learning four more commonly used verbs that are irregular in the preterite tense: venir (to come), poner (to put, place), decir (to say, tell), and traer (to bring).

Review: Hacer, Saber, & Estar

Most verbs that are irregular in the preterite do not use the regular -ar or -er/-ir endings. There is a special set of irregular preterite endings, which is used for many (although not all) verbs that are irregular in the preterite tense. Three of the irregular preterite tense verbs that you've learned so far - hacer, saber, and estar - use these endings. Do you remember how to conjugate these verbs?

hacer saber estar
hic'e' sup'e' estuv'e'
hic'iste' sup'iste' estuv'iste'
hiz'o' sup'o' estuv'o'
hic'imos' sup'imos' estuv'imos'
hic'isteis' sup'isteis' estuv'isteis'
hic'ieron' sup'ieron' estuv'ieron'

Irregular Preterite Endings

As you can see, the endings these verbs use are an assortment of regular -er/-ir preterite endings and modified -ar preterite endings. It's almost as if someone took all the preterite endings and shook them, and then pulled some out at random. Hmmm… Let's see what endings come out of the box:

  • First of all, for the yo form, we pull out: -e. This ending is almost like , the regular -ar preterite ending for the yo form, except that the accent mark fell off while it was being shaken around in the box!
  • Next, let's see what we get for the form: -iste. This ending is identical to the regular -er/-ir preterite ending for the form.
  • Now, the él, ella, Ud. form: -o. This ending is almost like -o, the regular -ar preterite ending for the él, ella, Ud. form, except that once again the accent mark somehow fell off in the box!
  • Okay, now nosotros/as: -imos. This ending is the same as the regular -er/-ir preterite ending for the nostros form.
  • Now, vosotros/as: -isteis. Again, this ending is just the same as the regular -er/-ir preterite ending for the vosotros form.
  • And, finally ellos/ellas/Uds.: -ieron. However, if the stem of the verb ends in a 'j,' the 'i' is left out, making the ending -eron.

So altogether, the irregular preterite tense endings are:

yo -e nosotros/as -imos
-iste vosotros/as -isteis
él, ella, Ud. -o ellos/as, Uds. -ieron (-eron before 'j')

Venir & Poner

Okay, so when conjugating irregular preterite verbs, do you just drop the -ar, -er, or -ir ending and add the irregular preterite endings? Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Generally, verbs that are irregular in the preterite have irregular preterite stems, as well as using the irregular endings.

So, for example, to form the preterite of venir (to come), you cannot just drop off the -ir and add the irregular endings to the ven- stem. Instead, the 'e' in the stem changes to an 'i,' giving you vin- for the irregular preterite stem. So, you add the irregular preterite endings to this stem.

For the yo form, add -e to the vin-, giving you vine, which looks like 'vine' in English. Maybe that will help you to remember how to conjugate venir: vine, viniste, vino, vinimos, vinisteis, vinieron. Hmmm... the word vino also looks familiar. Remember the word el vino - wine? Although the two words just look the same, it's usually easy to tell whether it's the noun or the verb based on the context. And wine comes from grapes, which come from vines, so it's all connected!

The verb poner (to put, place) also has an irregular preterite stem: pus-. The way it's said in Spanish, it sounds rather like 'puss' in English. Poner: puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron.

Traer & Decir

The verbs traer (to bring) and decir (to say, tell) are also both irregular in the preterite tense. Therefore, they use the irregular preterite endings, and also have irregular preterite stems.

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