Stem Change Verbs in Spanish: E - IE / E - I

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  • 1:30 Stem Changing Verbs
  • 2:50 Stem Change E > IE
  • 3:43 Stem Change E > I
  • 4:28 ?Vamos a Practicar!
  • 5:47 ?Leer a Practicar!
  • 10:08 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 talk about stem change in Spanish and how it works when conjugating certain verbs. We will focus on the e > ie and e > i stem changes in the present tense. We will also practice vocabulary related to describing a house.

Stem Changes in Spanish

In this lesson, we will talk about stem changes for some verbs when conjugating them and more specifically about the e > ie and e > i changes in the simple present. Phonetics, how letters sound together, trigger some stem changes in some words and verbs in Spanish.

Regular Conjugations

There are three main groups of verbs in Spanish, grouped by their endings: -ar, -er, and -ir. Most of the regular verbs in Spanish follow general rules. Let's look at some examples:

Verb in the infinitive Stem Ending Endings for simple present
Hablar habl- -ar -o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an
Beber beb- -er -o, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en
Vivir viv- -ir o, -es, -e, -imos, -is, -en

You use the stem of the verb, getting rid of the -ar, -er, or -ir part, and then adding the endings we had on the table.

Stem Changing Verbs

Now, stem changing verbs have a different way to be formed. After removing the -ar, -er, -ir, parts we also need to change the stems. There are three groups of stem changes in the present: o > ue, e > ie, and e > i. All forms but the nosotros and vosotros forms change their stem. These are some examples:

  • o > ue: volver (to return/come back/go back) = yo vuelvo, tú vuelves, él/ella/usted vuelve, nosotros volvemos, vosotros volvéis, and ellos/ustedes vuelven
  • e > ie: mentir (to lie) = miento, mientes, miente, mentimos, mentís, mienten
  • e > i: medir (to measure) = mido, mides, mide, medimos, medís, miden

We will focus on the e > ie and e > i change in this lesson.

Stem Change E > IE

Examples of common verbs in Spanish that have the e > ie stem change are:

  • Cerrar (to close)
  • Comenzar (to start/begin)
  • Empezar (to start/begin)
  • Entender (to understand)
  • Pensar (to think)
  • Perder (to lose)
  • Preferir (to prefer)
  • Querer (to want/love)
  • Tener (to have)

Take a look at how to conjugate them:

Pensar (to think)
yo pienso nosotros pensamos
tú piensas vosotros pensáis
él/ella/usted piensa ellos piensan

Stem Change E > I

Examples of common verbs in Spanish that have the e > i stem change are:

  • Corregir (to correct)
  • Decir (to say)
  • Medir (to measure)
  • Pedir (to ask for/to order)
  • Repetir (to repeat)
  • Seguir (to follow/to continue)

Take a look at how to conjugate them:

Pedir (to ask for)
yo pido nosotros pedimos
tú pides vosotros pedís
él/ella/usted pide ellos piden

¡Vamos a Practicar!

Now complete the chart with other conjugations for the shown verbs:

Person\Verb Preferir Querer Repetir
yo prefiero _____ _____
_____ quieres repites
él/ella/usted _____ quiere _____
nosotros preferimos _____ _____
vosotros _____ _____ repetís
ustedes/ellos _____ quieren repiten

¡Leer a Practicar!

Monica is a real estate agent and she is trying to find a house for Diego Valencia, his wife Mariana, and their kids Andrea and Sebastián.

Mónica: Señor Valencia, ?Qué quiere usted en una casa (house)?

Diego: Mónica, yo quiero una casa que no sea muy grande pero tampoco muy pequeña. Mi esposa y yo queremos una casa con cuatro cuartos (bedrooms). Queremos un dormitorio (bedroom) principal para nosotros, un dormitorio para cada hijo, uno para Mariana y otro para Sebastián, y un cuarto para invitados. También queremos un sótano (basement) porque queremos tener protección en caso de tornados.

Mónica: Lo entiendo muy bien señor Valencia. Yo tengo en mi lista tres propiedades que tienen lo que busca. ?Quiere ir a verlas?

Diego: ¡Sí, claro! Le pido ir ya si está bien para usted.

After seeing the first house:

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