Stem changing verbs do not make sense. | SpanishDict Answers
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3 Vote

Why do we have stem changing verbs in the grammar point of view? ie. verb "to sleep" "dormir" an "o" to "ue" is necessary to change the verb. Thus "I sleep" is "duermo" I know it all has to do with the sound of the language. I'm not sure why the need for this particular type of change. Why not have the verb "duermir" in the first place and conjugate it like a regular verb. It just seems like a confusing additional step. Do I make sense? Any thoughts. Thank you so much in advance. confused

  • Posted Jan 1, 2011
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12 Answers

7 Vote

You might as well complain even MORE about English, then.

Why is it that we have all of these irregulars in the past tense?

Go = Went Be = Was/Were Eat = Ate Drink = Drank Build = Built Have = Had Come = Came Swim = Swam Find = Found Can = Could Should = Should Put = Put Hurt = Hurt

And those are only the ones that were off the top of my head.

The point is that you should never complain nor question the legitimacy and purpose of irregulars of a language because they occur in every single one.

  • I don't believe he is questioning the language as much as asking out of curiosity "Why?" I myself am curious about the origins of words in my own language and in the others I study. There is nothing "complain-tive" about wanting to understand why...? - SeñorJesi Jan 5, 2013 flag
  • Great list of English examples---totally using this for my lesson plans to build on prior knowledge! - plattth Feb 21, 2014 flag
4 Vote

Have you tried pronouncing "duermemos" ??? rolleyes

That would be such a bad idea.

When I first started out, I also thought the stem-changing verbs were designed to make my life miserable. Over time, though, I've come to embrace them. I really like the way these "funny" patterns sound. Enjoy it.

4 Vote

There are some things in every language that in the end just need to be accepted and memorized.

It's that way because it's that way.

Or, as my mother used to say, "Because I told you so." alt text

4 Vote

Why do we have stem changing verbs in the grammar point of view? ie. verb "to sleep" "dormir" an "o" to "ue" is necessary to change the verb. Thus "I sleep" is "duermo" I know it all has to do with the sound of the language.

If you pay attention, this changes are only affecting those syllables where the 'o' is stressed. That's why "dormimos" hasn't change. There are countless equivalents in English, where the sounds changes like in "o" and "ue" in Spanish, even though the spelling is kept the same (to make spelling a nightmare). Think why "child" and "children" sound different, or "Christ" and "Christmas", or "type" and "typical". Why that unnecessary changes in the sounds in English? Because all languages naturally evolve like this.

  • excellent point, also using this list in my lesson plans to ensuavizar la transicion para mis alumnos. way easier to get once you realize you're already doing it - plattth Feb 21, 2014 flag
3 Vote

Well I think you are right about the way a word sounds, that's part of the development of languange. Languages also evolve from other languages being mixed together, for example what we know as spanish came from Latin and regional language spoken on the Iberian penninsula. If you think about some verbs in English you will realize their conjugations often don't mean to make sense either. Afterall English is a creole, a blend of many different languages.

2 Vote

Discuss that with the royal academy !

www.rae.es/

2 Vote

I always think the same thing. I always pass it off as the sound of words. I think Dormir sounds much nicer and softer, and easier to say, than duermir

  • is like the verb "jugar".... yo juego, vamos a jugar! - veroz Jan 2, 2011 flag
1 Vote

Why do we have stem changing verbs in the grammar point of view? ie. verb "to sleep" "dormir" an "o" to "ue" is necessary to change the verb. Thus "I sleep" is "duermo" I know it all has to do with the sound of the language. I'm not sure why the need for this particular type of change. Why not have the verb "duermir" in the first place and conjugate it like a regular verb. It just seems like a confusing additional step. Do I make sense? Any thoughts. Thank you so much in advance.

You already know that "it has all to do with the sound", and the more you listen to or hear stem-changing verbs the easier it will be to understand this "confusing additional step". Once you're weaned off conjugation charts and begin listening to the sound of the verbs, it all starts to sound perfect and it doesn't feel like an additional step, it just flows.

Use your original idea of how you would conjugate dormir, then using that same 'rule', try to conjugate the preterite and imperfect past. Your tongue will have a seizure trying to do it. tongue wink

That's my .02¢

1 Vote

The stem changing -ir and -er verbs make a lot of sense. The -ar ones don't though.

1 Vote

I had a Spanish teacher once who gave me the best language lesson ever.

It's a language! There is no why! That's just the way they say it!

1 Vote

Most stem-changing verbs: the ones that change from e to ie (like negar), or from o to ue (like poder), come from a regular sound change as Latin evolved into Spanish. These short vowels turned into diphthongs when stressed. It's the same change that gave us fiesta and puerta from Latin festa and porta. The e > i verbs are the result of another, more subtle sound change that started in the yo form of certain -ir verbs and spread throughout the "boot". Please read about both these changes on my blog, spanishlinguist.us. Just search for "boot" in the blog's search bar.

0 Vote

For discussions of a similar phenomenon in English, try doing a web search on the phrase "strong verb". The Wikipedia article "Germanic strong verb" is fairly thorough. One of the references in that Wiki article states that there 620 irregular verbs in English (I would have guessed more).

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