Spanish Present Tense Forms
Usually the first tense everyone learns when learning a new language, the present tense (el presente ) opens up many doors to communication by providing a manner to ask questions and describe someone, regular activities, abilities, and present actions.
Regular Present Indicative Forms
To conjugate an -ar verb, remove the infinitive ending (-ar) to leave the stem, and add the appropriate ending depending on the subject.
There are more -AR verbs than -ER or -IR verbs.
-AR Verb Endings
|Subject||Ending||hablar (habl-)||English translation|
|tú||-as||You (familiar) speak|
|usted, él, ella||-a||You (formal) speak, He/She speaks|
|vosotros||-áis||You (familiar) speak|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||-an||You (formal) speak, They speak|
To conjugate an -er verb, remove the infinitive ending (-er) to leave the stem, and add the appropriate ending depending on the subject.
-ER Verb Endings
|Subject||Ending||comer (com-)||English translation|
|tú||-es||You (familiar) eat|
|usted, él, ella||-e||You (formal) eat, He/She eats|
|vosotros||-éis||You (familiar) eat|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||-en||You (formal) eat, They eat|
To conjugate an -ir verb, remove the infinitive ending (-ir) to leave the stem, and add the appropriate ending depending on the subject.
-IR Verb Endings
|Subject||Ending||escribir (escrib-)||English translation|
|tú||-es||You (familiar) write|
|usted, él, ella||-e||You (formal) write, He/She writes|
|vosotros||-ís||You (familiar) write|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||-en||You (formal) write, They write|
Copy Cat Endings
Notice that -ir verbs have the same conjugations as -er verbs for all subjects except nosotros and vosotros.
No Pronouns Allowed!
Because the endings of each verb indicate the subject of the verb, the personal pronoun is not necessary and should be avoided if possible. Native Spanish-speakers rarely use personal pronouns, so it's best to practice not to use them for fluency's sake.
- Hablo español. (I speak Spanish.)
is better than:
- Yo hablo español. (I speak Spanish.)
Present Indicative Uses
The present tense in Spanish is used to express several English equivalents which may seem unnatural at first, but with practice, using the present tense will seem like second nature.
1. Habitual Actions
Habitual actions are the activities that a person does every day (or very often) for a long period of time. Daily routines, responsibilities, and job-related activities can be expressed this way.
2. Single Present Tense Events
In English and Spanish, this is usually expressed using the present progressive, but it is possible to use the present tense in Spanish as well.
3. Timeless Events/Universal Truths
These are phrases that are not connected to a specific time, but are generally known. These can be facts, or generally accepted opinions.
4. Hypothetical Situations
When introduced by si, the present tense expresses a hypothetical situation and reaction.
5. Past Tense Events that Continue to the Present
There are certain situations that may have begun in the past, but are still going on in the present. These are expressed using:
- hace + time + que + present tense verb
6. Ordering in restaurants and cafes
While the translation isn’t direct, it is quite common to use the present indicative instead of a more formal conditional or subjunctive when asking for something in a restaurant.