Introduction to Spanish verbs / Verbos españoles: conceptos básicos

Spanish verbs are more difficult than English ones. However, this is an easy introduction to them. Let's get started!

Easy introduction to Spanish verbs. Visit

1. Definition
2. Verb tenses
3. Parts of a verb
4. Conjugations
5. Verb moods
6. Types of verbs

1. Definition

A verb is a word that expresses an action, idea or state. It is the main part of the sentence.

To begin with, we are going to learn some basic concepts about verbs.

2. Verb tenses

Verb tenses (tiempos verbales) tell us when the action is placed: past, present or future.  Here is a list of Spanish verb tenses.

3. Parts of a verb

The parts of a verb are the stem or raíz (the root of the verb, which indicates its meaning) and the desinence or desinencia (the verb ending, which gives details about person, number, tense and mood). The desinence changes when the verb is inflected:

Viv-o con mis padres.                         I live with my parents.

¿Trabaj-as o estudi-as                     Do you work or study?

4. Conjugations

There are three conjugations (conjugaciones), according to the verb ending:

Type                  Description              Example

First (primera)
-ar ending
Amar / To love
Second (segunda)
-er ending
Beber / To drink
Third (tercera)
-ir ending
Vivir / To live

5. Verb moods

Verb moods indicate the speaker’s point of view:

      Mood             Description                              Examples

Infinitive (infinitivo)
Non-finite verb forms: infinitive, gerund and participle.
Comer, comiendo, comido /
To eat, ate, eaten.
Indicative (indicativo)
Factual and neutral statements
(affirmative, negative or interrogative)
¿Vienes conmigo? / Do you come with me?
Subjunctive (subjuntivo)
Doubt, desire, possibility, supposition, need; commands, save the ones addressed to the informal second persons; negative commands.
Quizá llueva / It might rain.
Vámonos / Let’s go.
No vengas / Don’t come.
Pasen ustedes / Come in.
Imperative (imperativo)
Commands and requests addressed to the informal second persons (, vosotros).
Come todo / Eat everything.
¡Venid aquí! / Come here!



6. Types of verbs

There are different types of verbs. 

The main classification is between regular and irregular verbs. Regular verbs are inflected in the same way, according to their conjugation. The pronunciation of their stem doesn’t vary (but there can be written changes: coger > cojo). Irregular verbs present changes in their stem or desinence.

Some verbs are pronominal, reflexive or reciprocal. They are used with a reflexive pronoun.

Verbs can be auxiliary or ordinary. Auxiliary verbs are used to form perfect tenses and verb phrases. The most important are: haber (to have) for perfect tenses, ser (to be) for passive voice and verb phrases, and estar (to be) for verb phrases. All of them can act as ordinary verbs.

Defective verbs are only used in certain forms. This applies especially to impersonal verbs, like llover (to rain).

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