Subir Conjugation: Preterite & Imperfect

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

The Spanish verb 'subir' means 'to go up,' but it has many other meanings depending on the context. Check out this lesson to find out how to conjugate this verb in the preterite and the imperfect forms through plenty of familiar examples.

Using the Verb Subir

Did you go up the stairs this morning? Did you get on a bus or a train to get to school or work? When was the last time you uploaded a picture to a social network? In order to answer these questions in Spanish, you'll need to know the verb subir (pronounced: soo-BEER). As you can see, subir has multiple meanings, so it can be used in plenty of contexts. Its primary meaning is 'to go up,' but it can also mean 'to get on', 'to go on board' or 'to upload.'

Keep reading to find out how to conjugate subir in the past, in both the preterite and the imperfect tenses, and how to use this verb in context.

Translation: to go up the stairs.

Meanings of Subir

Before learning its conjugation, it'll be useful to know the main meanings of subir.

Meaning Example
To go up, climb subir las escaleras
(to go up the stairs)
To get on, go on board subir al autobús/al tren
(to get on the bus/the train)
To turn up subir el volumen/la música
(to turn up the volume/the music)
To upload subir una foto
(to upload a picture)

Translation: to turn up the volume.

Preterite of Subir

The preterite is a past tense that we use to talk about finished actions in the past that happened once or momentarily. So with the preterite of subir, you could say that you went up the stairs because the elevator wasn't working, or that your friend just uploaded a picture to a social network.

Since subir is a regular verb, to conjugate it in the preterite tense, all you need to do is take its stem (sub-) and add the endings below:

VERB: subir (soo-BEER) - to go up/get on/upload

Pronunciation Translation
yo subí (soo-BEE) I went up/got on/
subiste (soo-BEES-teh) you went up/got on/
sub (soo-BYOH) he/she went up/got on/uploaded
you (formal) went up/got on/
subimos (soo-BEE-mohs) we went up/got on/
subisteis (soo-BEES-tays) you all went up/got on/
subieron (soo-BYEH-rohn) they went up/got on/uploaded
you all went up/got on/

Note: You'll only hear the form vosotros/as in Spain, when addressing more than one person in an informal situation. In the rest of the Spanish-speaking countries, native speakers use the form ustedes in any setting.

Example Conversation

Lidia has just arrived at Marta's house.

Lidia: El ascensor no funciona y subí las escaleras. (The elevator isn't working and I went up the stairs.)

Marta: ¿Subiste los siete pisos a pie? (Did you go up the seven floors on foot?) ¡Buen ejercicio! (Good exercise!)

Lidia: ¿Qué música escuchas? (What music are you listening to?)

Marta: Es un disco de mi hermano. (It's my brother's CD.) Subió mucho el volumen. (He turned up the volume a lot.) Voy a decirle que lo baje un poco. (I'll tell him to turn it down a bit.)

Lidia: Mira, Juan y Laura subieron fotos del viaje a Facebook. (Look, Juan and Laura uploaded pictures of the trip to Facebook.) Son geniales. (They're great.)

Translation: Juan and Laura uploaded pictures of the trip.

Imperfect of Subir

The imperfect is also a past tense, but its use is different from the preterite tense. We use the imperfect to talk about actions that had duration or were repeated in the past. For example, you can use it to describe past routines or to talk about your childhood.

To form the imperfect of subir, keep using its regular stem (sub-), but add the following endings:

VERB: subir (soo-BEER) - to go up/get on/upload

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