How to conjugate Spanish verbs in the present tense

Learning to conjugate the Spanish verbs might seem overwhelming. How many verbs are there? How many forms?

But worry not, there is some logic behind the verb conjugation and it can be learnt in easy steps.

Spanish verbs: some facts

There are some facts worth knowing. There are regular verbs and irregular verbs.

  • Regular verbs: follow the rules.
  • Irregular verbs: don’t follow the rules, but can be classified depending on which irregularity they have (for example, irregulars on the root, irregulars only on the first person, etc).
  • 60% of the verbs are regular.

All verbs (both regular and irregular) can be classified in three groups depending on the last letters of the infinitive form.

  • First group: the infinitive ends by –AR (for example “hablar”)
  • Second group: the infinitive ends by –ER (for example “comer”)
  • Third group: the infinitive ends by –IR (for example “vivir”)
  • 70% of the verbs belong to the first group (-AR).

How to conjugate Spanish verbs

Verbs are composed by two parts:

  • Root: tells us the meaning.
  • Ending: tells us who is performing the action (I, you, he/she, we, you all, they) and the tense (past, present, future).

To conjugate a verb, this is what we need to do:

  • Look at the infinitive, for example: hablar
  • Remove the last two letters to obtain the root: habl
  • Add the endings: yo hablo, tú hablas, él habla… 

All the regular verbs from the same group have the same endings, so once you know how to conjugate “hablar” in present, you can conjugate all regulars verbs from the first group in present.

Strategy to learn how to conjugate Spanish verbs

So, what’s the best strategy to learn the verbs?

Tip 1: go step by step.

  1. Start with regulars, first group (-AR).
  2. Then regulars, second group (-ER).
  3. Regulars, third group (-IR).
  4. Irregulars, group by group.

Tip 2: either read the verbs loud, or write them. These are more active and effective ways of learning than just reading by yourself.

What I personally do when I learn a new language is to write a verb every day, without looking, trying to remember. Then I correct if I did any mistake and repeat the next day. Every day I do less mistakes. It’s not the most fun method, agreed, but believe me, it works, and it takes only 5-10 minutes a day.

Memo cards to conjugate Spanish verbs in present tense

To help you in your learning I have prepared 10 memo cards to conjugate Spanish verbs in present:

  • Regular verbs
  • Irregulars on the root (1 and 2)
  • Irregulars on the first person
  • Double irregulars
  • Irregulars in writing
  • Total irregulars
  • Reflexive verbs
  • Verbs like “gustar”
  • Non-personal verbs

Start with the first card (regular verbs). When you can conjugate the regular verbs without mistakes, move on to the second card, and so on. Go step by step and be sure to remember well one card before moving on to the next. Good luck!

You can download the 10 memo cards here: