Regular "er" Verbs
In Spanish, there are three categories of verbs. The category is determined by the last two letters of the infinitive:
-ar verbs (like hablar)
-er verbs (like comer)
-ir verbs (like vivir)
The infinitive is the base form of the verb, such as to speak, to eat, to live, etc. In Spanish, all infinitives end in -ar, -er, or -ir.
hablar (to speak)
comer (to eat)
vivir (to live)
To conjugate a verb means to manipulate the infinitive so that it agrees with the different possible subjects. Here is the present tense conjugation of the infinitive “to speak”:
The present tense in Spanish can mean three things. The Spanish phrase “yo hablo” can mean:
I am speaking
I do speak
Many Spanish verbs are completely regular, meaning that they follow a specific pattern of conjugation. In this lesson you will learn to conjugate regular -ar, -er, and -ir verbs (in the present tense). Before you can do that, you must memorize the following subject pronouns.
tú (you – informal)
usted (you – formal)
vosotros/vosotras (you-all – informal)
ustedes (you-all formal)
For a review of the subject pronouns, click here.
Spanish infinitives are divided into two parts: the ending and the stem. The ending is the last two letters. Remember, all infinitives end in -ar, -er, or -ir. The stem is everything that’s left after you remove the ending.
habl + ar = hablar
com + er = comer
viv + ir = vivir
In this lesson, we will use the model verb: comer. In Spanish, you conjugate verbs by changing the ending. If the subject is I (yo), conjugate by dropping the ending and add -o.
yo como (comer – er + o = como)
I eat, I am eating, I do eat
If the subject is you – informal (tú), conjugate by dropping the ending and adding -es (for -er verbs).
tú comes (comer – er + es = comes)
you eat, you are eating, you do eat
If the subject is he (él), she (ella) or you – formal (usted), conjugate by dropping the ending and adding -e (-er verbs).
él/ella/usted come (comer – er + e = come)
he eats, she is eating, you (formal) do eat
If the subject is we (nosotros/nosotras), conjugate by dropping the ending and add -emos for -er verbs.
nosotros comemos (comer – er + emos = comemos)
we eat, we are eating, we do eat
If the subject is you-all – informal (vosotros/vosotras), conjugate by dropping the ending and adding -éis for -er verbs.
vosotros coméis (comer – er + éis = coméis)
you-all eat, you-all are eating, you-all do eat
If the subject is they (ellos/ellas) or you-all – formal (ustedes), conjugate by dropping the ending and adding -en (-er verbs).
ellos/ellas/ustedes comen (comer – er + en = comen)
they eat, they are eating, you-all (formal) do eat
As you can see, to conjugate regular -er verbs, simply drop the ending (-er) and add one of the following: