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Spanish verb conjugation is one of the most complex areas of Spanish grammar for native English speakers due to the relatively high degree of inflection.

Spanish verb conjugations are separated into three finite moods (indicative, subjunctive, and imperative)[1] and a few non-finite forms.

Non-finite forms[szerkesztés]

Each verb has an infinitive, an adverbial present participle (sometimes known as the gerundive, verbal adverb, or gerund, but functionally quite different from the gerund of English grammar), and a passive perfect participle (past participle) that can further inflect with number and gender. Most verbs also have an adjectival present participle, generally considered to be an adjective derived from the verb rather than a form of the verb itself.

Finite forms[szerkesztés]

The finite forms are grouped into seven distinct “simple tenses” (in a general sense of “tense” that refers to a specific time and a specific mood, although most modern grammars consider many of these forms as products of a tense and an aspect) and seven “perfect tenses”. The perfect tenses use the auxiliary verb haber along with the past participle. Other compound forms such as the present progressive are not considered to be an official conjugation of the verb.

Pronouns[szerkesztés]

Each of the finite “tenses” is conjugated according to the person and number of the subject. Nominative forms of Spanish pronouns often serve as the subject of such verbs. Frequently, though, the form of the verb makes the person and number of the subject clear. Thus, the subject pronoun is usually dropped altogether, except when used for emphasis:

  • Implied: Soy de España. ([I] am from Spain.)
  • Emphasized: Él es de Portugal, pero yo soy de España. (He is from Portugal, but I am from Spain.)

The 2nd person formal singular pronoun usted (“you”, literally, “your grace”) and its plural form ustedes take verbs conjugated in the third person. This is similar to the English practice of using third person verb forms with Your Majesty, Your Highness, and your Honor:

  • Usted habla. — Third person singular form of hablar, literally, “Your grace speaks.”
  • Ustedes hablan. — Third person plural form of hablar, literally, “Your graces speak.”

Indicative[szerkesztés]

The indicative mood has simple tense forms and corresponding perfect, continuous, and perfect continuous forms, as in English. However, in traditional Spanish grammar, continuous forms are ignored, and only the simple tenses and their perfect versions are considered as tenses.

Simple tenses[szerkesztés]

The Spanish indicative mood has four “simple tenses”. As opposed to English, which has just one past tense form, Spanish distinguishes between the preterite and the imperfect aspect. The preterite describes an event with a beginning and an end, but the imperfect describes a context without indicating its beginning or end. Within traditional Spanish grammar, the preterite and imperfect forms are considered separate tenses, with aspect controlled by auxiliary verbs, but modern grammar studies consider the preterite and imperfect to be different aspects of a single tense.

Besides the future tense, alternative constructions are often used to indicate a future event:

  • With ir (to go) + a (to) + infinitive: Voy a hablar. (I will speak.)
  • With temporal adverbs like mañana (morning, tomorrow): Mi padre llega mañana. (My father arrives tomorrow.)
  • Immediate future with estar a punto (to be about [to do something]): Mi padre está a punto de llegar. (My father is about to arrive.)
  • With ya (already): Mi padre ya llega. (My father arrives soon.)

Spanish present tense verbs often express future actions, although the future tense does so more explicitly. The future tense can also express some uncertainty about the present and immediate future:

  • ¿Qué hora es? Serán las tres. (What time is it? It’s (probably) about three.)
  • ¿Quién llama a la puerta? Será José. (Who's at the door? It must be José.)

As with the future tense, the conditional can express some uncertainty that is not indicated by the corresponding imperfect verb form:

  • ¿Qué hora era? Serían las tres. — “What time was it? It was about three (but I hadn't checked).”
  • ¿Quién llamaba a la puerta? Sería José. — “Who was at the door? It must have been José.”

Perfect forms[szerkesztés]

Spanish prefect tenses are always formed with haber ((auxilliary verb) to have) (unlike some other Romance languages, which use different auxilliary verbs based on the main verb) followed by the masculine singular form of the passive perfect participle:

The past anterior indicates that an action occured just after another, with words such as cuando (when), nada más (no sooner) and en cuanto (as soon as). It is rarely used in modern Spanish, and is now only found in very formal writing.

Continuous forms[szerkesztés]

Similar to English, Spanish uses the copula—estar (to be)—with the adverbial present participle to express continuous activity:

Note: the past anterior continuous (pretérito anterior continuo) is not used in modern Spanish.

The distinction between habitual actions and current activity is less strict in Spanish than in English:

  • hablo (I speak) (a habit or a current activity)
  • estoy hablando (I am speaking) (stressing the current activity)

Subjunctive[szerkesztés]

The subjunctive mood expresses the speaker’s opinion, wish, doubt, emotion, or judgement about the unlikelihood of a hypothetical event.

Simple tenses[szerkesztés]

Perfect forms[szerkesztés]

Continuous forms[szerkesztés]

The subjunctive is often used with a conditional verb:

  • Desearía que estuvieses aquí. — “I wish you were here.”
  • Me alegraría mucho si volvieras mañana. — “I would be very glad if you came back tomorrow.”

The present subjunctive is formed from the stem of the first person present indicative of a verb. So for an irregular verb like salir (to leave) with the first person salgo (I leave), the present subjunctive is salga, not *sala. The use of the imperfect subjunctive is determined by tense of the main verb of a sentence, not necessarily the tense of the subjunctive verb itself. The -ra and -se forms are always interchangeable with any changes in meaning.

The future tense of the subjunctive is obsolete in practice, found today mostly in old texts, legal documents. In other contexts it is usually replaced by the indicative form, except in certain fixed expressions, including venga lo que viniere (come what may), sea lo que fuere, and the proverb allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres.

Imperative[szerkesztés]

The imperative mood has five forms, but only the second person (familiar) forms are distinct from the subjunctive. The second person singular imperative form coincides with the third-person singular indicative form for all but a few irregular verbs. In the formal writing, the second person plural imperative is always the same as the infinitive but with a -d instead of an -r.

  • ¡Habla! — “Speak!” (informal singular, corresponding to )
  • ¡Hable! — “Speak!” (formal singular, corresponding to usted)
  • ¡Hablemos! — “Let’s speak!” (corresponding to nosotros)
  • ¡Hablad! — “Speak!” (prescribed plural corresponding to vosotros, rarely used in casual speech)
  • ¡Hablar! — “Speak!” (common plural corresponding to vosotros, not accepted by the Real Academia Española)
  • ¡Hablen! — “Speak!” (plural corresponding to ustedes; see Appendix:Spanish pronouns for regional formality details)

For negative commands, the subjunctive is used instead, e.g.:

  • ¡No hables! — “Don’t speak!” (informal singular, corresponding to )
  • ¡No hable! — “Don’t speak!” (formal singular, corresponding to usted)
  • ¡No hablemos! — “Let’s not speak!” (corresponding to nosotros)
  • ¡No habléis! — “Don’t speak!” (plural corresponding to vosotros; see Appendix:Spanish pronouns for regional details)
  • ¡No hablen! — “Don’t speak!” (plural corresponding to ustedes; see Appendix:Spanish pronouns for regional formality details)

Examples[szerkesztés]

Most Spanish verbs fall into one of three regular conjugations, based on the last vowel of the infinitive form, which always ends in -ar, -er, or -ir.

The following three conjugation tables illustrate the patterns used by regular Spanish verbs.

Regular verbs ending in -ar[szerkesztés]

Following is the conjugation of the regular -ar verb hablar (to speak):

infinitive hablar
gerund hablando
past participle hablado
person singular plural
first second third first second third
indicative yo él, ella, usted[2] nosotros vosotros ellos, ellas, ustedes[2]
present hablo hablas habla hablamos habláis hablan
imperfect hablaba hablabas hablaba hablábamos hablabais hablaban
preterite hablé hablaste habló hablamos hablasteis hablaron
future hablaré hablarás hablará hablaremos hablaréis hablarán
conditional hablaría hablarías hablaría hablaríamos hablaríais hablarían
subjunctive yo él, ella, usted[2] nosotros vosotros ellos, ellas, ustedes[2]
present hable hables hable hablemos habléis hablen
imperfect (-ra form) hablara hablaras hablara habláramos hablarais hablaran
imperfect (-se form) hablase hablases hablase hablásemos hablaseis hablasen
future hablare hablares hablare habláremos hablareis hablaren
imperative él, ella, usted[2] nosotros vosotros ellos, ellas, ustedes[2]
habla hable hablemos hablad hablen

Notes[szerkesztés]

  1. Modern linguistics often categorizes the conditional as a seperate mood from the indicative, thereby having four moods. This article uses the traditional classification.
  2. ^ 2,0 2,1 2,2 2,3 2,4 2,5 The semantically 2nd person pronouns usted (your grace) and ustedes (your graces) take verbs conjugated in the third person.