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Stem-Changing Verbs: o:ue

the letter o in the stem changes to ue in all forms except the nosotros and vosotros 

contar (to count, to tell)




jugar (to play)
juego, juegas, juega, jugamos, juegan

poder (to be able to)
puedo, puedes, puede, podemos, pueden

soler (to usually do)
suelo, sueles, suele, solemos, suelen

volver (to return [from someplace] )
vuelvo, vuelves, vuelve, volvemos, vuelven

dormir (to sleep)
duermo, duermes, duerme, dormimos, duermen

soñar (to dream)
sueño, sueñas, sueña, soñamos, sueñan

almorzar (to eat lunch)
almuerzo, almuerzas, almuerza, almorzamos, almuerzan

volar (to fly)
vuelo, vuelas, vuela, volamos, vuelan

to die

to approve

to show

to hang

to move (an object)

to count, to tell

to prove, test, sample, taste

to cost

to remember

to return (an object)

to solve

to beg, pray

to sound, ring

to find

to wrap

to toast

to bite



Stem-Changing Verbs: e:ie

the letter e in the stem changes to ie in all forms except the nosotros and vosotros. 

cerrar (to close, shut)




cerrar (to close, shut)
cierro, cierras, cierra, cerramos, cierran

recomendar (to recommend)
recomiendo, recomiendas, recomienda, recomendamos, recomiendan

empezar (to begin)
empiezo, empiezas, empieza, empezamos, empiezan

preferir (to prefer)
prefiero, prefieres, prefiere, preferimos, prefieren

entender (to understand)
entiendo, entiendes, entiende, entendemos, entienden

pensar (to think about)
pienso, piensas, piensa, pensamos, piensan

tener (to have, to get, to be)
tengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos, tienen

querer (to want, to like, to love)
quiero, quieres, quiere, queremos, quieren

merendar (to have an afternoon snack)
meriendo, meriendas, merienda, merendamos, meriendan

comenzar (to begin)
comienzo, comienzas, comienza, comenzamos, comienzan

fregar (to scrub, wash dishes)
friego, friegas, friega, fregamos, friegan

to guess, get right

to light, kindle

to advise, warn

to boil

to confess

to lie

to consent

to deny

to convert

to defend

to lose


Stem-Changing Verbs: e:i

the letter e in the stem changes to i in all forms except the nosotros and vosotros

repetir (to repeat)




sonreír (to smile)
sonrío, sonríes, sonríe, sonreímos, sonríen

servir (to serve)
sirvo, sirves, sirve, servimos, sirven

repetir (to repeat)
repito, repites, repite, repetimos, repiten

decir (to say, tell)
digo, dices, dice, decimos, dicen

pedir (to ask for, to order)
pido, pides, pide, pedimos, piden

competir (to compete)
compito, compites, pompite, competimos, compiten

conseguir (to get, obtain)
consigo, consigues, consigue, conseguimos, consiguen

freír (to fry)
frío, fríes, fríe, freímos, fríen

bendecir (*)
to bless

to impede

to deduce

maldecir (*)
to curse

to measure

to correct

to pursue, to persecute

to laugh

to dismiss, fire

to elect

to follow, continue

to groan, moan



Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are used to show ownership. They agree with the nouns they modify. That is, they agree with the thing possessed, not the possessor.

Mi, tu and su do not have masculine and feminine forms. They stay the same, regardless of the gender of the nouns they modify.




The possessive adjective nuestro has four forms.



mi amigo
mis amigas

your (fam. sing.)

tu hermano
tus hermanas

his, her, your (formal), their

María busca a su hermana.
María is looking for her sister.

Juan busca a su hermana.
Juan is looking for his sister.

Ellos buscan a su hermana.
They are looking for their sister.

Su madre busca a su hermana.
Your mother is looking for your sister.

nuestro(-a, -os, -as)

nuestro hermano
our brother
nuestra hermana
our sister
nuestros hermanos
our brothers
nuestras hermanas
our sisters


Definite and Indefinite Articles

Definite articles: la, las, el, los (the)
ejemplo: la niña, las niñas, el niño, los niños

el gato (the male cat)

Indefinite articles: un, una, unas, unos (a, an, some)
ejemplo: un libro, una mesa, unas mesas, unos libros

un gato (a male cat)

*The difference between the definite and indefinite articles is the difference between talking about a specific cat, or any cat at all.


Present Participle

The present progressive is formed by combining the verb "to be" with the present participle. (The present participle is merely the "-ing" form of a verb.)

In Spanish, the present progressive is only used to describe an action that is in the process of taking place. It is not used for future actions.

To form the present progressive in Spanish, combine a form of "estar" with the present participle.

In order to form the present progressive, you must know how to conjugate the verb estar, and how to form the present participle.



To form the present progressive, simply conjugate the verb estar to agree with the subject of the sentence, and follow it with the present participle.

Juan está comiendo pan.
John is eating bread.

María y Carmen están hablando con nosotros.
Mary and Carmen are speaking with us.

To form the present participle of regular -ar verbs, add -ando to the stem of the verb.

hablar: hablando
(hablar - ar + ando)

trabajar: trabajando
(trabajar - ar + ando)

estudiar: estudiando
(estudiar - ar + ando)

To form the present participle of regular -er and -ir verbs, add -iendo to the stem of the verb.

comer: comiendo
(comer - er + iendo)

hacer: haciendo
(hacer - er + iendo)

vivir: viviendo
(vivir - ir + iendo)

escribir: escribiendo
(escribir - ir + iendo)

To form the present participle of -ir stem changing verbs, change e:i and o:u in the stem, and then add -iendo to the stem of the verb.

servir: sirviendo
pedir: pidiendo
decir: diciendo
freír: friendo

dormir: durmiendo
morir: muriendo
poder: pudiendo

Sometimes when forming the present participle it is necessary to change the spelling of a word so that it agrees with the way it is pronounced. We call this an "orthographic" change. Here are some common examples:

caer: cayendo
creer: creyendo
huir: huyendo
ir: yendo
influir: influyendo
oír: oyendo
traer: trayendo
leer: leyendo
seguir: siguiendo


Adjectives and Pronouns

describes a noun

In the following sentences, the words in bold all function as adjectives, since they all describe the noun "book."

Give me the red book.
Give me the big book.
Give me that book.
Give me this book.

takes the place of a noun

In the following sentences, the words in bold all function as pronouns, since they all take the place of a noun.

Maria is next; give her the ball.
Juan is here; say hello to him.
That pencil is yours; this is mine.
This book is mine; that is yours.


Demonstrative Adjectives

este libro (this book)
estos libros (these books)
esta pluma (this pen)
estas plumas (these pens)

ese libro (that book)
esos libros (those books)
esa pluma (that pen)
esas plumas (those pens)

aquel libro (that book over there)
aquellos libros (those books over there)
aquella pluma (that pen over there)
aquellas plumas (those pens over there)

Demonstrative Pronouns

éste (this one - masculine)
éstos (these ones - masculine)
ésta (this one - feminine)
éstas (these ones - feminine)

ése (that one - masculine)
ésos (those ones - masculine)
ésa (that one - feminine)
ésas (those ones - feminine)

aquél (that one over there - masc.)
aquéllos (those ones over there - masc.)
aquélla (that one over there - fem.)
aquéllas (those ones over there - fem.)

Each demonstrative pronoun also has a neuter form. They do not change for number or gender, and they are used to refer to abstract ideas, or to an unknown object.

esto (this matter, this thing)
eso (that matter, that thing)
aquello (that matter/thing over there)


Demonstrative Adverbs

aquí / acá


allí / allá
(way) over there


Direct Object Pronouns

The object that directly receives the action of the verb is called the direct object.

Bill hit the ball.
"Ball" receives the action of the verb "hit."

Sherry reads the book.
"Book" receives the action of the verb "reads."

The direct object can also be a person.

Sherry hit Bill. (The direct object is Bill)

The direct object answers the question "what?" or "whom?" with regard to what the subject of the sentence is doing.

Bill hit what?
Bill hit the ball.

Sherry hit whom?
Sherry hit Bill.

Often, it is desirable to replace the name of the direct object with a pronoun.

Example 1
Paul bought the flowers. He took the flowers home and gave the flowers to his wife.

Example 2
Paul bought the flowers. He took them home and gave them to his wife.


When the pronoun replaces the name of the direct object, use the following pronouns:

me (me)
te (you-familiar)
lo, la (him, her, it, you-formal)

nos (us)
los, las (them, you-all-formal)

In an affirmative statement with one verb, the direct object pronoun comes immediately before the conjugated verb.

Tengo = I have
Tengo la pluma. = I have the pen.
La tengo. = I have it.

If the direct object of the sentence changes to a masculine noun, the masculine pronoun must be used.

Juan lo tiene.
Juan tiene = John has
Juan tiene el libro. = John has the book.
Juan lo tiene. = John has it.


Juan la tiene.
Juan tiene = John has
Juan tiene la pluma. = John has the pen.
Juan la tiene. = John has it.

Likewise, if the direct object of the sentence changes from singular to plural, the plural pronoun must be used.

Juan lo tiene.
Juan tiene = John has
Juan tiene el libro. = John has the book.
Juan lo tiene. = John has it.


María los tiene.
María tiene = Mary has
María tiene los libros. = Mary has the books.
María los tiene. = Mary has them.

Further Examples:

la como
I eat it (feminine DO - la sopa, la comida, etc.)
lo como
I eat it (masculine DO - el pollo, el arroz, etc.)
la leo
I read it
lo leo
I read it
la veo
I see it
lo veo
I see it
la tengo
I have it
lo tengo
I have it
la compro
I buy it
lo compro
I buy it

In the previous examples, it is clear that the subject of the sentence is "I" because the verbs are all conjugated in the "yo" form. With other verb forms, it is often desirable to add a word to clarify the subject.

Juan la come. (la comida)
Juan eats it.

María lo tiene. (el libro)
María has it.

El chico la compra. (la pluma)
The boy buys it.

La chica lo ve. (el edificio)
The girl sees it.

Ustedes lo leen. (el periódico)
You-all read it.

Examples of plural direct objects:

Juan come dos sándwiches.
Los come. or Juan los come.

María tiene tres libros.
Los tiene. or María los tiene.

El chico compra dos revistas.
Las compra. or El chico las compra.

La chica ve dos coches.
Los ve. or La chica los ve.

Ella compra dos televisores.
Los compra. or Ella los compra.

Tenemos dos mesas.
Las tenemos. or Nosotros las tenemos.

Examples where the direct object is a person:

I know you.
Te conozco.

She loves him.
Ella lo ama.

She loves me.
Ella me ama.

Juan sees her.
Juan la ve.

They call us.
Ellos nos llaman.

We call them.
Los llamamos.


Speaking Impersonally

Impersonal expressions are used when the subject of a verb is unspecified or unknown (but is human). They are mostly used to make general statements and to express rules, but also are very useful for asking how to spell a word or what a word means.

Se debe trabajar mucho para tener éxito. 
One should work hard to gain success.

¿Cómo se dice “beach” en español? 
How do you say “beach” in Spanish?


Se come mucha lechosa.
People eat (One eats, You eat) a lot of papaya.

Se compra el pan en la pnadería.
People buy bread at the bakery. (One buys bread..., Bread is bought...)


Se ven muchas verduras frescas en los mercados.
You see a lot of fresh vegetables at the markets. (A lot of vegetables are seen...)

Se hacen los tamales al vapor.
You make tamales by steaming (One makes..., Tamales are made...)

If one or more infinitives follow se + verb, the verb is conjugated in the singular.

Se puede comer mariscos en el Caribe.
One (People, You) can eat shellfish in teh Caribbean.

Se debe bailar, tomar el sol y dormir mucho en las vacaciones.
One (People, You) should dance, sunbathe, and sleep a lot on vacation.


"Por" and "Para"

"Por" and "para" have a variety of meanings, and they are often confused because they can each be translated as "for."

Gracias por la información.
Thanks for the information.

Este regalo es para Juan.
This gift is for Juan.

To learn to use "por" and "para" correctly, you need to do two things:

1. Learn the rules for how por and para are used.
2. Memorize model sentences.

"Por" has many uses, and so it is the more problematic of the two.

Rule: to express gratitude or apology
Model: Gracias por la ayuda.
(Thanks for the help.)

Rule: for multiplication and division
Model: Dos por dos son cuatro.
(Two times two equals four.)

Rule: for velocity, frequency and proportion
Model: Voy al restaurante cinco veces por semana.
(I go to the restaurant five times per week.)

Rule: meaning "through," "along," "by" or "in the area of"
Model: Andamos por el parque.
(We walk through the park.)

Rule: when talking about exchange, including sales
Model: Él me dio diez dólares por el libro.
(He gave me ten dollars for the book.)

Rule: to mean "on behalf of," or "in favor of,"
Model: No voté por nadie.
(I didn't vote for anyone.)

Rule: to express a length of time
Model: Yo estudié por dos horas.
(I studied for two hours.)

Rule: to express an undetermined, or general time, meaning "during"
Model: Se puede ver las estrellas por la noche.
(One can see the stars during the night.)

Rule: for means of communication or transportation
Model: Prefiero viajar por tren y hablar por teléfono.
(I prefer to travel by train and speak by phone.)

Rule: in cases of mistaken identity, or meaning "to be seen as"
Model: Me tienen por loco.
(They take me for crazy.)

Rule: to show the reason for an errand (with ir, venir, pasar, mandar, volver, and preguntar)
Model: Paso por ti a las ocho.
(I'll come by for you at eight o'clock.)

Rule: when followed by an infinitive, to express an action that remains to be completed, use por + infinitive
Model: La cena está por cocinar.
(Dinner has yet to be cooked.)

Rule: to express cause or reason
Model: El hombre murió por falta de agua.
The man died for lack of water.

Rule: "estar por" means to be in the mood, or inclined to do something
Model: Estoy por tomar café.
(I'm in the mood for drinking coffee.)

Rule: in passive constructions
Model: El libro fue escrito por Octavio Paz.
(The book was written by Octavio Paz.)

"Por" also appears in many idiomatic expressions:

por adelantado
in advance

por ahora
for now

por allí
around there; that way

por amor de Dios
for the love of God

por aquí
around here; this way

por casualidad
by chance

por ciento

por cierto

por completo

por dentro

por desgracia

por ejemplo
for example

por eso

por favor

por fin

por lo general

por lo visto

por medio de
by means of

por lo menos
at least

por lo tanto

por mi parte
as for me

por ningún lado

por otra parte
on the other hand

palabra por palabra
word for word

por primera vez
for the first time

por separado

por supuesto
of course

por suerte

por todas partes

por todos lados
on all sides

por último

"Para" -- in contrast, has relatively fewer uses.

Rule: to indicate destination
Model: El hombre salió para Madrid.
(The man left for Madrid.)

Rule: to show the use or purpose of a thing
Model: El vaso es para agua.
(The glass is for water.)

Rule: to mean "in order to" or "for the purpose of"
Model: Para hacer una paella, primero dore las carnes.
(To make a paella, first sauté the meats.)

Rule: to indicate a recipient
Model: Este regalo es para ti.
(This gift is for you.)

Rule: to express a deadline or specific time
Model: Necesito el vestido para el lunes.
(I need the dress by Monday.)

Rule: to express a contrast from what is expected
Model: Para un niño lee muy bien.
(For a child, he reads very well.)

Rule: "estar para" to express an action that will soon be completed
Model: El tren está para salir.
(The train is about to leave.)

It is quite important to learn to use these two prepositions correctly, because if you inadvertently substitute one for the other, you might end up saying something altogether different from what you had intended. Study the two examples:

Juan compró el regalo para María.
Juan bought the gift for Maria.
(he bought it to give to her)

Juan compró el regalo por María.
Juan bought the gift for Maria.
(he bought it because she could not)

"Por" and "para" can also be used in questions. "¿Por qué?" means "Why?" (for what reason) while "¿Para qué?" means "Why?" (for what purpose).

¿Por qué estudias español?
For what reason do you study Spanish?

Possible answer:
Porque es un requisito.
Because it's required.

¿Para qué estudias español?
For what purpose do you study Spanish?

Possible answer:
Para ser profesor de español.
In order to become a Spanish teacher.


Affirmative Commands

  • Most affirmative commands look like the usted/él/ella form of the verb
  • Most affirmative usted and ustedes commands seem to have the "opposite" vowel in their ending.
  • Additional spelling changes are made in the usted and ustedes commands of some verbs to maintain the original sound of the verb stem.

¡Empieza! (tú)

¡Empiece! (usted)

¡Empiecen! (ustedes)

hacer (to do, to make)

(tú) haz, (usted) haga, (ustedes) hagan

salir (to go out, to leave)

(tú) sal, (usted) salga, (ustedes) salgan

tener (to have, to get, to be)

(tú) ten, (usted) tenga, (ustedes) tegan