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Spanish Lesson Fifty-One: Master Review (Verbs and Verb Tenses)

Updated on June 9, 2013

Welcome Readers,

So if you haven't noticed, I'm beginning to make some changes to the format of these lessons. Starting today, get used to this format. The Quiz, Vocabulary, Warm-Up, and Homework will be inserted into this format, so I'm not quite sure how everything is going to look, so just bear with me for the moment. I want to say thanks to all the readers who have read through all of my lessons since the beginning back in June of last year. Now today I'd like to review Verbs and Verb Tenses. Below is today's Objectives and what I expect from you to know after this review lesson. Thanks for reading and let's learn some Spanish!


  • To review usage and and tenses of verbs
  • To be able to understand each verb tense
  • To be able to conjugate verbs in multiple tenses

Which Tense is The Hardest For You?

See results

Using Verbs in The Spanish Language

Using verbs in the Spanish language can be a bit tricky for most new learners. It isn't, however, difficult for those who have had plenty of practice with the fundamentals of the Spanish Infinitive. Infinitives are exactly the same in Spanish as they are in English. An infinitive phrase involves a sentence in which the word to precedes the verb of the sentence. For example:

To eat cheese. This is considered an infinitive phrase. To eat is the infinitive itself. Each verb in Spanish acts as an infinitive and its verbs are structured in such a way that they can be conjugated. Conjugate means to change or alter. So these infinitives change forms to indicate the tense and subject it represents. In Spanish there are Fourteen Tenses to choose from, Seven Singular and Seven Compound. These do not represent Gerunds or Particples. The formation of those differ based upon the verb. So how does one use a verb? Well it's quite simple.

Leer. This verb means "to read". Remember that each Spanish verb is an infinitive and its form will always have "to" that precedes the verb. Each verb has an ending be it -Ar, -Er, or -Ir. These endings change (are dropped) to represent the tense and subject being specified in the sentence.

  • Indicates an action or state of being at the present time
  • Indicates habitual action
  • Indicates a general truth, something which is permanently true
  • Indicates vividness when talking or writing about past events
  • Indicates actions in the near future

The Present Indicative

The Present Indicative is the first teach that all new learners pick up within the Spanish language. With all the verbs in Spanish, there is an indicative form that represents itself in the present tense. Indicative is word that refers to a word or phrase that that "indicates" something that is certain and true. One that speaks in the indicative is certain of what is occurring. There is no doubt within these sentences. Things that are considered doubts or add mood are considered Subjunctive.

The Present Indicative is formed by taking a verb, removing its ending (-Ar, -Er, and -Ir), and adding another to represent the subject. This meaning for every subject Yo, Tú, Él/Ella/Usted, Nosotros, and Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes, a new ending will be placed for each verb. Let's take the verb hablar. Hablar means "to talk", but when conjugated in each of the forms he can be read.

Hablo. I talk.

Hablas. You talk.

Habla. He/She/You (Formal) talks.

Hablamos. We talk.

Hablan. They (Mixed or Masculine)/They (Feminine)/You All (Formal) talk.

Note that each conjugation is determined by its subject. For -Ar ending verbs, the endings are as follows. -O, -As, -A, -Amos, -An. These reflect their corresponding subjects. For verbs ending -Er, the endings are as follows. -O, -Es, -E, -Emos, -En. And finally, for -Ir verbs, the endings are -O, -Es, -E, -Imos, -En. These conjugations are to be followed in the Present Indicative. Remember the endings are dropped and then the new endings are added to reflect the subject.

For more information, check out Essential and Irregular Verbs, Getting To Know You, and Sentence Structure and Rhetoric.

  • Indicates an action that was completed some time in the past.

The Preterit

The Preterit is one of two past tenses in the Spanish language. Our side notes says that the preterit indicates actions that took place and were completed in the past. These things that it refers to are actions that a person did and there is no question as to whether the action was completed or not. This tense also indicates actions that took place in the most recent past, not often referring to things that happened during one's childhood or what one you used to do during the summers of the 1970s. This tense is meant to refer to the simplest actions in the past. Let's used hablar.

Hablé. I Talked.

Hablaste. You Talked.

Habló. He/She/You (Formal) Talked.

Hablamos. We Talked.

Hablaron. They (Masculine or Mixed)/They (Feminine)/You All (Formal) Talked.

Just like in the Present Indicative, each ending represents the subject. The infinitive remains the same, but is conjugated to specify the subject in said tense. For verbs ending in -Ar, use endings -É, -Aste, -Ó, -Amos, -Aron. For verbs ending in -Er/-Ir, use endings -í, -Iste, -Ío, -Imos, -Ieron. The preterit is simple for the for most, however, with all tenses, there are irregulars that exist.

For more information on those and the preterit tense check out.The Preterit.

  • Indicates an action that was going on in the past when another action occurred
  • Indicates an action that was going on in the past at the same time as another action
  • Indicates an action that a person did habitually in the past.
  • Indicates a description of a mental, emotional, or physical condition in the past
  • Indicates the time of the day in the past

The Imperfect Indicative

The Imperfect Indicative is the second of the past tenses in Spanish. This tense refers to actions that took place in the past that is continuous and its completion is not indicated. It is, therefore, the sister of The Preterit. Its usage can be looked over on your right. The imperfect is a pretty easy tense to use and only has three irregulars, making it once of the simplest tenses to use.

When using this tense, thing of things you or someone else used to do in the bast or habitually. Think also of things that happened in the past that had no definite ending. These are open-ended statements that have no ending. Think of sentences like:

Leía las entrevistas. I used to read interviews.

Leías las entrevistas. You used to read interviews.

Leía las entrevistas. He/She/You (Formal) used to read interviews.

Leíamos las entrevistas. We used to read interviews.

Leían las entrevistas. They (Masculine or Mixed)/They (Feminine)/You All (Formal) used to read interviews.

One thing to notice is that the verbs in the Imperfect Indicative have the same conjugation for verbs in Yo and Él/Ella/Usted forms. I know, it seems confusing, but I promise when in discussion, it'll be clear who you are discussing. You can also add a pronoun to be more specific and add emphasis. Like:

Yo hablaba por el telefono todos los dias. I used to talk on the phone everyday.

Tú hablabas por el telefono todos los dias. You used to talk on the phone everyday.

Ella hablaba por el telefono todos los dias. She used to talk on the phone everyday.

Nosotros hablábamos por el telefono todos los dias. We used to talk on the phone everyday.

Ellas hablaban por el telefono todos los dias. They (Feminine) used to talk on the phone everyday.

The endings underlined for "Leer" reflect the endings for all -Er/-Ir verbs in the Indicative Imperfect. The endings underlined for "hablar" reflect the endings for all -Ar verbs in the Indicative Imperfect.

If you'd like more information on the tense, check out The Imperfect.

  • Indicates an action or state of being that will take place some time in the future
  • Indicates a conjecture regarding the present
  • Indicates probability regarding the present
  • Indicates an indirect quotation

The Future

The Future Tense is extremely simple to follow. It has one set of endings and said endings are attached to the infinitive instead of taking the place of the ending. Therefore once simple has to add the ending to express that an action or state of being will take place some time in the future. There are some exclusions to the rules, such as irregulars, however. For any verb follow the underlined endings. Let's used the verb nadar as an example.

Nadaré. I will swim.

Nadarás. You will swim.

Nadará. He/She/You(Formal) will swim.

Nadaremos. We will swim.

Nadarán. They(Masculine or Mixed)/They(Feminine)/You All(Formal) will swim.

For more information on this tense and its irregularities, check out The Preterit.

  • Indicates an action that you would do if something else were possible
  • Indicates a conditional desire
  • Indicates a direct quotation
  • Indicates a conjecture regarding the past
  • Indicates probability regarding the past

The Conditional Tense

The conditional is structured similarly to the Future Tense. Only in this case, the ending that are attached are different and the tense itself represents actions that could be possible. These sentences are when there is an uncertainty of whether this action will take place some time in the future. Let's use the verb gustar as an example.

Me gustaría mirar los elefantes. I would like to watch the elephants.

Te Gustarías mirar los elefantes. You would like to watch the elephants.

Le Gustaría mirar los elefantes. He/She/You(Formal) would like to watch the elephants.

Nos Gustaríamos los elefantes. We would like to watch the elephants.

Les Gustartían los elefantes.They(Masculine or Mixed)/They(Feminine)/You All(Formal) would like to watch the elephants.

Gustar is used differently than most verbs. The words before the verb are Indirect Object Pronouns. Don't worry much about those. Refer to the endings added to gustar to reflect those of all verbs in the Conditional Tense. Remember that there are always exceptions to a verb's conjugation rules.

For more information, check out The Conditional Tense.

  • Expresses a command
  • Expresses some kind of wish, insistence, preference, suggestion, or request
  • Expresses doubt, fear, joy, hope, sorrow, or some other emotion
  • Expresses doubt, necessity, regret, important, urgency, or possibility following an impersonal expression.

The Present Subjunctive (Mood)

The Subjunctive is placed in the category as a tense, but it isn't necessarily a tense. The Subjunctive is most certainly a mood that alters the forming of verbs. The usage of this can a bit complex. The best way to understand this is to understand the differences between Indicative and Subjunctive. If you remember correctly, the indicative phrases state factual things. These things are obvious true whereas subjunctive phrases instill doubt, indecision, fear, etc. Let's check out an example for this tense.

Espero que tengas un buen dia. I hope that you have a good day.

This sentence is discussing a wish or request and therefore requires the use of the subjunctive mood. Now... how does one conjugate into the subjunctive? Here... let me explain.

  1. Determine what the Present Indicative Form of the verb.
  2. Determine the Yo form of the verb the Present Indicative
  3. Drop the ending and add (-E, -Es, -E, -Emos, -En) for -Ar verbs and add (-A, -As, -A, -Amos, -An) for -Er/-Ir verbs.

So Tener, which means "to have" is "Tengo" in the Present Indicative, You form. Instead of using "Tengo", use the prefix "Teng" and add the new ending to reflect the subject. This is how your Subjunctive verb is formed. Let's use another example.

Traer--->To Bring.

Traigo---> Yo Form in Present Indicative.

Espero que traigen los libros. I hope that they bring the books. The verb "Esperar" is conjugated in the present yo form followed by "Que" which indicates the word "that". This is an indicator that a phrase is Impersonal Expression. The subjunctive is used for these phrases every time. The verb "traer" is conjugated to reflect the subjunctive. How's that explanation?

There are some more things to learn about this mood. For more information, read The Subjunctive.

Homework and Conclusion

There will be no homework assignments today. I'm debating on whether or not to bring those back or not. I think I will, but not sure how. Thanks for reading this review. I am constantly appreciative of all the support that I get on a weekly basis. Theses lessons are a challenge to write and I'm hoping that someone out there is a learning a great deal about the language. Do not hesitate to contact me if any typos or errors or found or if you you just need help. I'm always here for that. Thanks so much and enjoy the rest of your week!

Oh! Next week we're going to learn about our last Simple Tense which is the Imperfect Subjunctive. I had a great deal of difficulty with this one at first, so it'll be a challenge for even me. Come on back for that. Thanks for reading!!


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