Infinitives in Spanish

Overview

Quick Answer

The infinitive is the most basic form of a verb. Verbs in the infinitive form indicate what an action is, but do not indicate anything about who is doing the action or at what point in time the action is taking place.

In English, infinitive verbs are preceded by the word to, as in to speak, to read, or to write. In Spanish, infinitives consist of only one word and are separated into three different conjugation sets according to their endings, -ar, -er, and -ir, as in hablar , leer , and escribir .

Verb Stems

Most verb tenses use a form of the infinitive as the stem for their conjugations. In general, for regular verbs, you simply need to remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, and -ir) to find the stem, and then you can the add specific endings needed to give tense information.

-ar Verbs

Verbs that end in-ar are more common than -er, and -ir verbs, and there are fewer irregular -ar verbs than -er or -ir verbs. Here are some examples of common -ar infinitives and their stems.

InfinitiveDefinitionStem
buscar
 
to look forbusc-
cantar
 
to singcant-
comprar
 
to buycompr-
escuchar
 
to listen toescuch-
extrañar
 
to miss/to yearn forextrañ-
hablar
 
to speakhabl-
llamar
 
to callllam-
llenar
 
to fillllen-
llevar
 
to carryllev-
mirar
 
to watchmir-
visitar
 
to visitvisit-

-er Verbs

Verbs that end in -er are the second-largest group of infinitives in Spanish. Here are some examples of common -er infinitives and their stems.

InfinitiveDefinitionStem
beber
 
to drinkbeb-
comer
 
to eatcom-
comprender
 
to understandcomprend-
correr
 
to runcorr-
creer
 
to believecre-
deber
 
to owedeb-
leer
 
to readle-
meter
 
to put intomet-
romper
 
to breakromp-
vender
 
to sellvend-

-ir Verbs

Verbs that end in -ir are the smallest group of Spanish infinitives. Here are some examples of common -ir infinitives and their stems.

InfinitiveDefinitionStem
abrir
 
to openabr-
asistir
 
to attendasist-
cubrir
 
to covercubr-
escribir
 
to writeescrib-
incluir
 
to includeinclu-
pedir
 
to orderped-
permitir
 
to allowpermit-
recibir
 
to receiverecib-
servir
 
to serveserv-
vivir
 
to liveviv-

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