4.1 Present Tense of -er and -ir Verbs

When a regular –er or -ir verb is conjugated, the –er or –ir of the infinitive is dropped, and the following endings are added: -o, -es, -e, emos (for –er verbs) or -imos (for -ir verbs), éis (for -er verbs) or ís (for -ir verbs), and -en.

Note the similarity with hablar: all of the consonants are the same; only the vowels differ.

Hablar Beber Abrir
yo hablo bebo abro
hablas bebes abres
él, Ella, Ud. habla bebe abre
Nosotros hablamos bebemos abrimos
Vosotros habláis bebéis abrís
ellos, ellas, Uds. hablan beben abren

Verb forms from now on will be presented without the subject pronouns. As each form has its unique vowel or vowel + consonant ending, you should regularly be able to deduce the subject from the verb form.

Remember the four possible common translations of the present tense. Bebo, for example, may translate as:

  1. I drink.
  2. I am drinking.
  3. I do drink.
  4. I will (am going to) drink. (According to the context.)

Vocabulario básico 

Verbos:

abrir- to open
aprender- to learn
asistir- to attend (false friend)
beber- to drink (cognate: imbibe)
comer- to eat
contestar- to answer
creer- to believe (cognates: credible, credo)
discutir- to argue, to discuss
enviar- to send (cognate: envoi)
escribir- to write
leer- to read (cognate: legible)
mandar- to send, to order (cognate: mandate)
recibir- to receive
subir- to go up, to climb
vender- to sell
vivir- to live

Sustantivos:

el asunto- matter, issue, affair (esp. in pl.), question
el barrio- neighborhood
la calle- street
la carta- letter, playing card
el colegio- high school (false friend)
el correo- mail
el correo electrónico- e-mail
la dirección- address, direction on compass
el estado- state
el extranjero- abroad, foreign countries
el extranjero/-a- foreigner
la guerra- war
la letra- letter of alphabet, handwriting (false friend)
la oficina de correos- post office
el sello- stamp
la tarjeta- card, greeting card (tarjeta postal- postcard)
la tienda- store
el/la vecino/-a- neighbor (cognate: vicinity)

Adjetivo:

extranjero- foreign

Preposiciones:

contra- against
durante- during

Expresiones:

al extranjero- abroad (destination)
creer que no- to think not, not to think so
creer que sí- to think so
en el extranjero- abroad (location)
por lo menos, al menos- at least

Last revised on June 18, 2021.

4.2 Present Tense of Other Irregular Verbs: Part 1

The following verbs are very high-frequency and all are irregular in the first-person singular, while ir is irregular throughout.

Decir (To say, tell) Hacer (to do, make) Ir (to go)
yo digo hago voy
dices haces vas
él, Ella, Ud. dice hace va
Nosotros decimos hacemos vamos
Vosotros decís hacéis vais
ellos, ellas, Uds. dicen hacen van

The verb ir often combines with the preposition a + infinitive to render future meaning (esp. near future), as in English.

Voy a trabajar esta noche. I’m going to work tonight.
Nidia va a cocinar mañana. Nidia is going to cook tomorrow.
Mis padres van a viajar esta semana. My parents are going to travel this week.
¿Uds. no van a ir con nosotros? You aren’t going to go with us?

The verb hacer is used to express various weather phenomena:

Hace calor. It’s warm/hot.
Hace mucho frío. It’s very cold.
Hace sol. It’s sunny.
Hace viento. It’s windy.
¿Qué tiempo hace? What’s the weather like?
Hace buen tiempo. The weather is good.
Hace mal tiempo. The weather is bad.

Note in the second example about that, like idioms with tener, those used with hacer also take nouns. Therefore, you will see a form of mucho, not muy modifying them.

Do not confuse Hace frío with Tengo frío or Hace calor with Tiene calor. The expressions with tener can only take a person (or animal) as subject:

Hace mucho frío en enero. It’s very cold in January.
Con frecuencia tengo frío. I’m frequently cold.

Also do not confuse hace with “have” o “has” when translating. Although they look similar, their meaning never is the same.

Vocabulario básico 

Verbos:

desear- to desire, to wish, to want
trabajar- to work

Sustantivos:

el/la amigo/-a- friend
la estación- season
el fin de semana- weekend
la gente- people
el invierno- winter
el jardín- garden, yard
el/ la maestro/-a- teacher, master
la mentira- lie
el otoño- autumn, fall
la playa- beach
la primavera- spring
el pueblo- town, people (in a national sense)
la selva- jungle
el sur- south
el trabajo- work, written work, term paper
el verano- summer
la verdad- truth

Los meses del año (Months of the Year):

enero- January
febrero- February
marzo- March
abril- April
mayo- May
junio- June
julio- July
agosto- August
septiembre- September
octubre- October
noviembre- November
diciembre- December

Adjetivos:

junto- together
primero- first
próximo- next
simpático- nice, friendly
último- last

Adverbios:

adentro (dentro)- inside
afuera (fuera)- outside
junto- together

Expresiones:

hacer un viaje- to take a trip
la semana que viene (la semana próxima)- next week
Es verdad.- It’s true
¿No es verdad?- Isn’t it so (true)?
¿verdad?- isn’t it so (true)?
¿no?- isn’t it so (true)? (used after an affirmative statement only)

Last revised on June 16, 2021.

4.3 Personal a

When the direct object of a verb is a human being, the marker a is placed before it. (Often the marker is not used when the direct object is an indefinite person or persons [Buscan alumnos…], but this is not a translation problem). This a is never translated. It is at times also seen before countries, cities, concepts and animals when these are personalized, that is, the speaker feels strongly about them.

Mira a Juana. She’s looking at Juana.
Veo a David. I see David.
Dejamos al perro en casa. We’re leaving the dog at home.
Amo a la libertad. I love liberty.
Vamos a visitar a España. We’re going to visit Spain.
Dejamos al perro en casa. We’re leaving the dog at home.

At times the personal a distinguishes between the subject and direct object. In the first example below, the personal a indicates the direct object, i.e., “She is waiting for someone.” (“Whom” is the direct object in the first example, and “who” is the subject in the second.) The main point is simply not to translate the a.

No sé a quién espera. I don’t know whom she waits for.
No sé a quién espera. I don’t know who is waiting.

When followed by el, unless part of a proper name, the personal a contracts with it to form al.

¿Ayudas al vecino? Are you helping the neighbor?
No siempre creemos al . We don’t always believe Jacinta.

The preposition a normally precedes an indirect object, and it is often translated as “to,” depending on how the English is rendered:

Voy a mandarle el dinero a mamá. I’m going to send the money to Mom.

I’m going to send Mom the money.

Llevan a Marta a la fiesta. They’re taking Marta to the party.

In very occasional cases, when both a direct and an indirect object are spelled out (not used in pronoun form), the personal a is omitted before the direct object so that the reader can tell which is the direct object and which is the indirect, as word order does not specify that the direct object must always precede the indirect.

Presenta su hija a Rafael. He introduces his daughter to Rafael.

 

Last revised on December 14, 2020.

4.4 Adjectives Used as Nouns

It is very common for adjectives in Spanish to take the place of nouns. Study the following examples.

El viejo no está en el hospital. The old man is not in the hospital.
El joven asiste a la escuela. The young boy attends school.
La joven prepara la lección. The young girl prepares the lesson.
Los ciegos estudian en la universidad. The blind study at the university.

To write el hombre viejo, el muchacho joven, or las personas ciegas would normally be considered redundant. Although you may encounter it, it is much more common to see the noun omitted and the adjective used in its place.

Vocabulario básico 

Verbos:

amar- to love
deber- to owe; ought, should*
mantener- to maintain, to keep up; to support financially**

Sustantivos:

la botánica- botany
el/la médico/-a- doctor, physician
el/la novio/-a- boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, fiancée
la patria- country, native land, homeland
la tontería- nonsense, silliness, foolishness

Adjetivos:

ciego- blind
cierto- (a) certain
joven- young
largo- long (false friend)
mismo- same, very
mudo- mute
semejante- similar, such
sordo- deaf
tal- such, such a
tonto- silly, stupid

*Deber is not a synonym of tener que, which indicates strong obligation or necessity. Although they are at times quite close in meaning, deber tends to be “softer,” indicating what one should or ought to do.

**Mantener has all of the irregularities of tener, in the present tense, as well as others to be studied later.

Last revised on June 16, 2021.

4.5 Omission of the Indefinite Article

The indefinite article is at time omitted in Spanish when it is used in English. In these cases, or when the English sounds awkward or incorrect, merely add the indefinite article to your translation. The common cases in which Spanish omits the indefinite article are:

1. Before a profession unmodified by an adjective:

Su padre es ingeniero. His father is an engineer.
Soy médica. ¿Y Ud.? I’m a doctor. And you?

But it is used when the noun is modified:

Su madre es una médica buena. His mother is a good doctor.

2. Before certain adjectives:

Cierto hombre desea su presencia. A certain man desires your presence.
No hago tal/ semejante cosa. I don’t do such a thing.
Leen otro libro. They’re reading another book.

3. In an exclamation, after Qué:

¡Qué día largo! What a long day!
¡Qué clase difícil es! What a difficult class it is!

4. Because of the ambiguity between the number one (uno) and the indefinite article, the latter is often omitted when the meaning is “a” or “an”:

¿Tienes carro? Do you have a car?
¿Tiene novio? Does he/she have a boyfriend?

To insert the indefinite article un in the above sentences could imply “one car” or “one boyfriend” versus two.

Last revised on December 14, 2020.

4.6 Present Tense of Other Irregular Verbs: Part II

Here are the conjugations of more high-frequency verbs that are irregular in the first-person singular of the present tense. You need to be able to recognize all of these forms actively.

Dar (To give) Caer (To Fall) Oír (To hear) Poner (To Put)
yo doy caigo oigo pongo
das caes oyes pones
él, Ella, Ud. da cae oye pone
Nosotros damos caemos oímos ponemos
Vosotros dais caéis oís ponéis
ellos, ellas, Uds. dan caen oyen ponen

More verbs to memorize so that you can quickly translate them:

salir (to leave/go out) Traer (to bring) Venir (to Come) Ver (To See)
yo salgo traigo vengo veo
sales traes vienes ves
él, Ella, Ud. sale trae viene ve
Nosotros salimos traemos venimos vemos
Vosotros salís traéis venís veis
ellos, ellas, Uds. salen traen vienen ven

Vocabulario básico 

Verbos:

alquilar- to rent
barrer- to sweep
pasar- to happen; to spend (time); pasar por- to pass by; pasar a- to pass into
recoger- to pick up, to collect, to gather
secar- to dry

Sustantivos:

la alcoba- bedroom
la alfombra- rug, carpet
la antigüedad- antique
el baño- bathroom
la cama- bed
la cocina- kitchen
el comedor- dining room
el/la criado/-a- maid, servant
el cuarto- room, bedroom
el dormitorio- bedroom (false friend)
la escalera- stairway, stairs
el estante- shelf
el fondo- back, rear; bottom, bed (of a river, etc.)
la habitación- room
el hogar- home
la hoja- leaf; sheet of paper
el ladrillo- brick
el lugar- place, space
la mesa- table
el mueble- piece of furniture*
el pasillo- hallway
el piso- floor; floor/story (building); apartment
el quehacer- household (domestic) chore, task
el ruido- noise
la sala- room; living room; classroom
el salón- living room, drawing room, reception, salon
el siglo- century
la silla- chair

Adjetivos:

cómodo- comfortable
descompuesto- broken
incómodo- uncomfortable
limpio- clean
lleno- full
sucio- dirty, soiled
vacío- empty (cognate: vacant)

Preposición:

desde- of, from, since

Conjunción:

pues- since, as, because, for

Expresiones:

en alguna parte- somewhere
en ninguna parte- nowhere
en todas partes- everywhere
dar un paseo- to take a walk, ride
poner la mesa- to set the table
por todos lados- everywhere

*Mueble is one piece of furniture. The plural, or collective noun, is muebles.

Last revised on June 16, 2021.