Let’s be honest: We know that the trickiest part of learning Spanish is probably its grammar. Today, we will discover the tricks to unlock the present tense in Spanish.
What is the Present Tense?
The Spanish present tense, also called “presente de indicativo” by the Spanish Royal Academy, is used for talking about habitual actions or routines (e.g., I study Spanish every day) and descriptions (e.g., My sister is very bright). In Spanish, it can also be used to talk about what is happening right now (e.g., I am preparing dinner).
But first, we need to classify verbs in different categories:
a) Regular verbs
To use a verb in the present tense, we remove the infinitive ending and then add a new ending for each person. This process is called conjugation. When we conjugate a verb, we are referring to the act of modifying the spelling of a verb to change its meaning.
The three verb groups (-ar, -er, -ir) have a different set of endings, which we need to learn by heart. Look at this table:
b) Stem-changing verbs
Some Spanish verbs are called stem-changing verbs. But what does this mean?
These are usually regular in their endings, but some forms of the verb have a vowel change in the ‘stem’ or ‘root’ (the part to which the endings are added). Here you have some examples:
c) Irregular verbs
When can we consider a verb irregular? In Spanish, verbs that suffer a change in the stem or root are irregular. This means that they don’t follow the usual patterns for verbs ending in -ar, -er, -ir.
Often, many people wonder why irregular verbs exist. Do we just like complicating things?
An irregular verb is just a verb that applies old grammar rules that are still used. Simply put, it’s the reminiscence of a way of conjugating verbs from centuries ago. What we might notice is that the more a verb is used, the more it tends to be irregular. This is because frequently used words are more resistant to change than others which are not so common. Here we have some of the most relevant Spanish irregular verbs:
How to practice the present tense in Spanish?
And probably we don’t have to convince you that learning Spanish grammar with music is a great idea! In these two songs the present tense is the protagonist:
#1. “Limón y Sal” (2006) by Julietta Venegas
#2. “Fuego” (2017) by Juanes.
Also, why not use some of the best learning strategies? Using flashcards, post-its or recording your voice when reading aloud some verb conjugations will help you retain them.
Spanish tenses might be challenging but you’ve just mastered the theory of the present tense! Now the next step is to put this into practice. ¡Vamos!