Contents of Lesson 4

The Spanish person system; subject pronouns.
Verb stems and verb endings.
Verb groupings (conjugations)
Present tense of a first conjugation verb
Present tense of a second conjugation verb
Meaning of the present tense
Finding infinitives
Exercise on finding infinitives and cognates

Lesson 4: The Present Tense of Regular Verbs

The Spanish person system; subject pronouns.

Singular Plural
1st person yo (I) nosotros (we, masculine); nosotras (we, feminine)
2nd person (you, familiar singular) vosotros (you, familiar plural, masculine); vosotras (you, familiar plural, feminine)
3rd person él (he), ella (she), usted (you, polite singular) ellos (they, masculine); ellas (they, feminine); ustedes (you, polite plural)

Verb stems and verb endings.

Verb groupings (conjugations). Spanish verbs can be divided into two main groups, called conjugations. The First Conjugation consists of verbs whose infinitive ends in -ar. The Second Conjugation consists of verbs whose infinitive ends in -er or -ir. Each group has a separate set of endings for the present tense. The reason they are placed into groups is that the endings for each group are different.

Meaning of the present tense. The Spanish present translates the English present progressive and present emphatic (hablo = I speak, I am speaking, I do speak). In a question, such as "Do you speak Russian?," the "do...speak" combination is also translated as the simple present. When translating into English, use the English form which is most appropriate.

Finding infinitives. The infinitive must first be reconstructed in order to find a verb's meaning in a dictionary. For most verbs, one simple removes the ending and replaces it with the infinitive ending (-ar, -er or -ir). Some verbs require adjustments in the stem.

Exercise. Find the infinitive and meaning of the following present tense forms. Which ones have English cognates?

Note that the forms marked with asterisks are nouns as well as verb forms. In isolation these words could be either a noun or a verb. In a sentence, the context will tell you whether you have a noun (preceded by an article, for example), or a verb form (which will have a subject). Remember that Spanish dictionaries include only the noun and the infinitive of the verb. Do not be distracted by a noun homonym if you are looking for a verb form.

A cognate is a word of similar but not identical form, with a similar meaning. Some of the words have several English cognates, some have none.

The division between stem and ending is marked for items 1-10. For the rest, see if you can make that distinction.

  1. acuest|a
  2. corrij|o
  3. *cuent|a
  4. *cuest|a
  5. duerm|o
  6. encuentr|a
  7. impid|e
  8. jueg|an
  9. muev|es
  10. piens|an
  11. prefiero
  12. quiero
  13. riñen
  14. *río
  15. sienta
  16. siente
  17. sigo
  18. sirvo
  19. *sueño
  20. vienes
  21. yergue (the initial y functions as an i in the dipthong)

Link to the answers to this exercise.

This page Copyright © 1998 Daniel Eisenberg. Please report errors or omissions: ¡Mil gracias!