The Present Tense in Spanish

The Present Tense in Spanish

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 4, 2022

If you recently started learning Spanish you probably know your numbers, colors and some basic sentences. To take your Spanish to the next level you will need to learn about verbs and how to conjugate them. We’ll start with the Spanish present tense. It is usually thought of as the most basic tense in both English and Spanish.

This article will discuss the following: 

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What is the present tense verb conjugation in Spanish? 

Spanish verbs are divided into three categories:

  • -ar verbs like hablar (to speak)
  • -er verbs such as comer (to eat)
  • -ir verbs such as vivir (to live)

To conjugate or form the present tense in Spanish you remove the ending (-ar, -er, -ir) and add a new ending to the stem of the verb. The present endings in Spanish match the subject and verb type (-ar, -er, -ir). 

The stem is what is left after you remove the -ar, -er, -ir ending. 

Verb Stem

Hablar Habl-

Comer Com-

Vivir Viv-

Verbs ending in -ar, -er and -ir all have different endings that identify the subject. Let’s look at some examples of -ar, -er and -ir verb conjugation. 

Subject-AR verb endingsHablar (to speak)
Yo (I)-ohablo
Él / Ella (He / She)Usted (You, formal)-ahabla
Nosotros / Nosotras (We)-amoshablamos
Vosotros / Vosotras (You, plural)-áishabláis
Ellos / Ellas (They)Ustedes (You, plural, formal and informal)-anhablan
Subject-ER verb endingsComer (to ear)
Yo (I)-ocomo
Él / Ella (He / She)Usted (You, formal)-ecome
Nosotros / Nosotras (We)-emoscomemos
Vosotros / Vosotras (You, plural)-éiscoméis
Ellos / Ellas (They)Ustedes (You, plural, formal and informal)-encomen
Subject-IR verb endingsVivir (to live)
Yo (I)-ovivo
Él / Ella (He / She)Usted (You, formal)-evive
Nosotros / Nosotras (We)-imosvivimos
Vosotros / Vosotras (You, plural)-ísvivís
Ellos / Ellas (They)Ustedes (You, plural, formal and informal)-enviven

Note: In Spanish you do not need to include the subject. The subject is identified automatically in the present tense Spanish verb conjugation. You can say it for emphasis or clarity, but 99% of the time you leave it out. This is different from English. 

Hablar = to speak

Hablo = I speak. 

Hablas = You speak. 

Example of using the subject for emphasis:

Question: ¿Eres tú o Nayeli quien habla? (Is it you or Nayeli speaking?)

Answer: Yo hablo. (I am speaking.)

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What are the present tense verbs in Spanish?

The present tense in Spanish is similar to the present tense in English. We use the Spanish present tense to express the following: 

  • Things that are generally true
  • Things that are true now
  • Things that happen all the time or habits
  • To talk about current activities that may not be happening right now
  • To talk about things you are planning to do

Here are a few example sentences in the present tense:

Comemos fruta todos los días. We eat fruit every day. 
Leo mi libro. I am reading my book. 
Viven en México.They live in Mexico. 
Ella corre 10 kilómetros cada semana. She runs 10 kilometers every week. 
Hoy es martes. Today is Tuesday. 
El sábado vamos a la playa. On Saturday we are going to the beach. 

Now, let’s look at some common verbs we use in the present tense in Spanish: 

LavarTo wash
CocinarTo cook
CenarTo have dinner
LeerTo read
CaminarTo walk
ComerTo eat
TocarTo touch
MirarTo watch
PreguntarTo ask
EscucharTo listen
HablarTo speak

Watch this video to listen to a story in present tense. 

What are irregular present tense verbs in Spanish? 

Spanish has many irregular verbs in the present tense. They do not follow the rules above. 

Here are 3 important irregular verbs that you will need to memorize. They are used often.

SubjectSer (To be)Estar (To be)Ir (To go)
Yo (I)SoyEstoyVoy
Él / Ella (He / She)Usted (You, formal)EsEstáVa
Nosotros / Nosotras (We)SomosEstamosVamos
Vosotros / Vosotras (You, plural)SoisEstáisVais
Ellos / Ellas (They)Ustedes (You, plural, formal and informal)SonEstánVan

Stay tuned for details about irregular verbs in Spanish! 

The present tense in Spanish is all about endings

Learning how to conjugate verbs in the present tense in Spanish will help your conversation skills. You can tell your new friends what you are doing, what you like to do and what you plan to do this weekend. Get out there now and start speaking Spanish!

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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