Los verbos: verbs in spanish

The verbs (the verbs in Spanish) are characterized as the grammatical class that expresses actions, states, feelings, sensations, phenomena, processes or changes in beings and events. In Spanish, present inflection of mood (indicative, subjunctive and imperative), number (singular and plural), person (1st, 2nd and 3rd), tense (present, past and future) and aspect. It has the nominal forms of infinitive, gerund and participle.

In the indicative mode, the times are identified present, past perfect, past indefinite, past imperfect, past tense pluscuamperfecto, past past tense, future simple, future compound, conditional simple and composite conditional. In the subjunctive mood, count the tenses present, past perfect, past pluscuamperfecto, past imperfect,simple future and composite future. THE imperative has both affirmative and negative forms. The first has its own forms and others taken from the present subjunctive; in turn, the negative form takes present subjunctive forms.

In this article, you will learn to identify the forms and functions of the verb in Spanish, as well as important differences to be known by Portuguese speakers. Come on?

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Read too: The conjunctions — the invariant word class that joins words and sentences

Topics in this article

  • 1 - Conjugations of verbs in Spanish
  • 2 - Modes of verbs in Spanish
    • → Callsign
    • → Subjunctive
    • → Imperative
  • 3 - Inflections of verbs in number and person in Spanish
  • 4 - Tenses of verbs in Spanish
  • 5 - Regularity and irregularity of verbs in Spanish
    • → regular verb
    • → irregular verb
  • 6 - Aspects of verbs in Spanish
  • 7 - Noun forms of verbs in Spanish
  • 8 - Other characteristics of verbs in Spanish
    • → reflexive verbs
    • → Auxiliary verbs
    • → Defective verbs
    • → Verbal phrases
  • 9 - Solved exercises on verbs in Spanish

Spanish verb conjugations

In Spanish, there are three verb conjugations, defined by the endings of the verbs in the infinitive (-ar, -er, -ir):






hablar – sing – dance



eat – sell – fear



live – leave – write

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Verb moods in Spanish

mode means The way of enunciating the action or any expression attributed to the verb. There are three verb modes: indicative, subjunctive and imperative. Some grammars consider the conditional sometimes as a mode, sometimes as a time.


the indicative mood andxpress real actions and concrete. See examples below.

I live on Avenida General Paz.
(I live on Avenida General Paz.)

I believe they're touching you la puerta.
(I think they're knocking on the door.)


The subjunctive mood, also called the mode of possibilities, express desire, doubt and/or assumption, that is, non-concrete or non-real actions. It is a mode widely used in subordinate clauses in Spanish, much more so than in Portuguese. See examples below.

Ojalá no haga frío this night.
(I hope it's not cold tonight.)

If I had woken up early, I would have arrived at the time.
(If I had woken up early, I would have been on time)

I don't believe he's playing the puerta.
(I don't think they are/are knocking on the door.)*

*With the calls opinion verbs (to believe, to seem), the present tense is used in affirmative sentences (I believe they are playing la puerta) and the subjunctive in negative clauses (I don't believe he's playing the puerta).


THE imperative modeandexpress order, desire or advice. This verb mood has no tense. See examples below.

Come to the bakery.
(Go to the bakery.)

Don't say anything.
(Do not say anything.)

Inflections of verbs in number and person in Spanish

Verbs can be conjugated in singular or plural. There are three verbal persons, represented by the following pronouns:





you / you


he / she / usted

they / they / ustedes

I call myself Alejandra.
(My name is Alejandra.)

Are you from here?
(Are you from here?)

Are you from here?
(Are you from here?)

El / Ella was sleeping.
(He/She was sleeping.)

How are you feeling?
(How are you?)

If we could, we would go with you.
(If we could, we would go with you.)

Your early llegasteis.
(You arrived early.)

You have studied in Madrid.
(You were in Madrid.)

Spanish verb tenses

The verb tense is responsible for indicating the moment when the action is carried out, whether present, past or future. In Spanish, verb tenses are classified into simple (with only one verb form) and composites (with two verb forms). Let's adopt the verb speak for example, conjugated in the 1st person singular yo (I). The imperative mood does not enter the tense paradigm because it does not express any tense in itself. In each conjugation box, we will present a possible translation, but keep in mind that this may vary depending on the context.

  • Simple times: are those formed solely by the main verb.



Gifthablo (I speak)

Giftable (speak)

imperfect tensehablaba (spoke)

imperfect tensespeak / speak (speak)

simple or indefinite past perfecthable (I spoke)


simple futuretalk (I will speak)

Simple future – talk (to speak)

simple conditionalhablaria (would speak)


Let's see an example in which the verb tense in Spanish does not coincide with the verb tense in Portuguese:

When I arrive, I'll call you.
(When I arrive, I'll call you.)

In the example, the verb get is conjugated in the present subjunctive. This tense can be used to express future actions, so its correct translation into Portuguese must be done with the future subjunctive.

  • Composite times: are formed by the auxiliary verb haber (conjugated in the tense in question) and the participle of the main verb.



Past perfect tenseheyspoken (I spoke)

Past perfect tensehayaspoken (have spoken)

past tense — hubespoken (I spoke/had spoken)*


Past tense pluscuamperfecthad spoken (had spoken / had spoken)

Past tense pluscuamperfecthubiese / hubiera hablado (had spoken)

Composite future — habre hablado (I will have spoken)

Composite future — hubiere hablado

simple composite conditionalhabría hablado (would have spoken)


*The past tense indicates a past before another past before another past. It is more common in the literary context.

OJO!You simple futures and composed in the subjunctive mood are not usual in Spanish. In general, they are adopted in a legal context or in idiomatic expressions, such as adonde fuere do whatever you come (in free translation, “wherever you go, whatever you see”).

Regularity and irregularity of verbs in Spanish

→ regular verb

A verb is regular when its root is invariable and its endings obey the models of the conjugation to which it belongs, in all tenses, persons and moods. To identify the root of a verb, we remove the ending (-ar, -er or -ir). What's left is the root or stem:

1The conjugation

2The conjugation

3The conjugation

present indicative

indefinite past tense of indicative

Simple future of the indicative

1The plural person (nosotros - we)

1The person singular (yo - I)

3The plural person (they / as / ustedes — they/you)

Habl amos


Long live

we love

I ate

part will

dance amos

there is


Note that all verbs that belong to the same conjugation, when conjugated in the same tense and in the same person, retain their roots as well as their endings.

Irregular verb

On the other hand, a verb is irregular when in some or all of its forms there are changes in the stem or in the ending or in both.

Irregularities in the radical

Termination irregularities

Irregularities in stem and termination


wake up the (I wake - present tense)


and uve (I walked - indefinite past tense)

To be

it was (it was - imperfect tense of indicative)

decide to go

say it (say it - present subjunctive)


estuv ieron (have been — indefinite past tense)

To be

go to (was — imperfect subjunctive past)

Aspects of verbs in Spanish

The verbal aspect expresses the internal structure of events and allows us to know if the action is in progress, has been concluded, has continuity, is durative, among other uses. In Spanish, there are the following aspects:

  • perfective aspect: indicates that the action is fully completed.

    Juana spoke a lot during the class.
    (Juana talked a lot during class.)

  • imperfective aspect: indicates that the action has not yet been completed, and it is not possible to determine its beginning, development or end.

    When I was a girl, I liked playing hide and seek.
    (When I was a kid, I liked to play hide and seek.)

  • Inchoative aspect or receptive: the focus is on the beginning.

    Empezó to llover.
    (Started to rain.)

  • cursive aspect: the focus is on developing the action.

    It's been snowing for three days.
    (It has been snowing for three days.)

  • conclusive aspect: the focus is on the end of the action.

    Finish reading “Rayuela”, by Julio Cortázar.
    (I finished reading “The hopscotch game”, by Julio Cortázar.)

  • Punctual aspect: indicates momentary actions.

    Salió de casa a las dos.
    (He left the house at two.)

  • Durable aspect: indicates an action that occurs repetitively or durably in the temporal spectrum.

    I am learning German.
    (I'm learning german.)

  • continuous aspect: indicates an action that occurs frequently.

    I am working in a store.
    (I'm working in a store.)

  • discontinuous aspect: indicates the resumption of an action.

    I went back to studying Chinese.
    (I went back to studying Chinese.)

Noun forms of verbs in Spanish

The noun forms (not personal) of verbs are so named because, in their inflections, they do not have number or person endings.

Infinitive: expresses the meaning of the verb and, in the sentence, has the function of substantive verbal.

study it's grow up.
(Studying is growing.)

Gerund: expresses action prior or simultaneous (durative) to that of the main verb.

was running.
(I was running)

Participle: with the assistant haber (have/have), form compound verb tenses. It also works as adjective:

hemocomidoin the new restaurant this night. (compound tense)
(We ate at the new restaurant tonight.)

I like the papas fries. (adjective)
(I like French fries.)

Other characteristics of verbs in Spanish

reflexive verbs

You reflexive verbsexpress an action performed and received by the subject. Conjugate with reflexive pronouns me, te, if, us, the, if. In the infinitive, they are always accompanied by the pronoun if, constituting a single word (mope, dress up get hurt, dress up).

She dressed in her best dress.
(She dressed in her best dress.)

Auxiliary verbs

the auxiliary verbs lose totally or partially ifu proper meaning by forming compound tenses, by being used in the passive voice and in verb phrases. In compound tenses, the conjugated auxiliary verb determines the tense in which the action of the main verb takes place. In Spanish, only the verb haber It serves as an aid in the conjugation of compound tenses.

When Carolina Ilegó, yo ya me had gone.
(When Carolina arrived, I already had gone although.)

defective verbs

defective verbs are those who have incomplete conjugation, whether in times or in people.

The day was rainy.
(The day dawned rainy.)

In this example, the verb dawn cannot be conjugated in the first person.

verb phrases

Verb phrases (verbal periphrasis) are the combination of a conjugated auxiliary verb and another in non-personal ways. They indicate different notions, such as obligation, duration and will.

I have to work.
(Work is required.)

I'm working.
(I am working.)

I have studied all the lecciones.
(I have studied all the lessons.)

Know more: theadverbs — the class of invariant words that modify the meaning of other classes

Solved exercises on verbs in Spanish

question 1

Indicate in what time and way the subrayed verbs are:

a) when finished la class, el bus ya had past at the stop.

B) This year we've gone to Costa Rica.

Ç) Vein your family every three weeks.

D) I hope that revels speaking spanish.

E) No I have silver.


A) indefinite past tense; pluscuamperfecto

B) past perfect

C) imperfect past

D) present subjunctive

E) present tense

question 2

(UEMG 2019)

The contamination of the City of Mexico ¿why does it not diminish with environmental contingencies?

Atmospheric contamination is a topic that has been of concern to the government and the inhabitants of the Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México for more than three decades. To face the growing problem, if has implemented different measures that never seem to be enough.

Among them we find the reformulation of gasolines, the mandatory verification, the Hoy No Circula program, the reubicación de industries, road education campaigns, programs for the restoration and conservation of green areas and changes to regulations, among others.

As we well know, efforts to reduce environmental contamination are mainly focused on mobile sources for the following reasons: they are responsible for 60% of the energy consumption of Mexico City and they generate 78% of nitrogen oxide particles, a contaminant that together with volatile organic compounds are precursors to the formation of ozone.

The main measure implemented by the government in its effort to reduce air contamination is the Hoy No Circula program, which since 1989 was applied in the City of Mexico and which consists in preventing the circulation of 20% of vehicles on certain days of acuerdo al color de su engomado, a program that with the paso de los años has been expanded and hardened, but it is already in doubt. effectiveness

In an interview with Xataka Mexico, Dr. Héctor Riveros Rotgé, researcher at the Institute of Physics of the UNAM, sends us an important flaw in the implementation of the Hoy No Circula program as well as the environmental contingency measures that we have lived in the last days: the thousands of people whose vehicle was dropped off the circulation area found as a means of transportation and the use of transport public, mainly taxis and microbuses, even though they are of intensive use and are not properly regulated, generate more contamination.

The Dr. Riveros reminds us that in terms of public transport, it is better to use the Metro and Metrobus networks than to use taxis and microbuses, which is why considers it necessary to encourage the use and expansion of both transport systems, ensuring that they have a frequency adequate to their needs users.

Available in: https://www.xataka.com.mx/otros-1/la-contaminacion-de-la-ciudad-de-mexico-por-que-no-disminuye-aun-con-contingencias-ambientales. Access: 11 Dec. 2018. (Adapted)

The verbs highlighted in the text has implemented and we have lived are conjugated in el:

A) indefinite past tense.

B) imperfect tense.

C) pluscuamperfecto.

D) past perfect tense.


Alternative D

The verbs presented in the sentence belong to the past perfect indicative.

By Renata Martins Gornattes
Spanish teacher 

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