Spelling Changes in the Preterite

Overview

For pronunciation reasons, there are several Spanish verbs that undergo a spelling change in certain preterite tense conjugations. These verbs fall into two groups.

Group 1: -car, -gar, and -zar Verbs

The first-person singular endings of these verbs undergo the following changes:

Verb TypeChangeExample
-carc changes to qu
busqué
 
-garg changes to gu
cargué
 
-zarz changes to c
almorcé
 

Conjugation Examples

Here is an example of the full preterite tense conjugation for each type of verb.

Subject-car Conjugation-gar Conjugation-zar Conjugation
yo
busq
 
jug
 
crucé
 
buscaste
 
jugaste
 
cruzaste
 
él, ella, usted
buscó
 
jugó
 
cruzó
 
nosotros
buscamos
 
jugamos
 
cruzamos
 
vosotros
buscasteis
 
jugasteis
 
cruzasteis
 
ellos, ellas, ustedes
buscaron
 
jugaron
 
cruzaron
 

Common -car, -gar, and -zar Verbs

Here is a list of some common -car, -gar, and -zar verbs you're likely to hear.

-car Verbs-gar Verbs-zar Verbs
acercar
 
agregar
 
abrazar
 
educar
 
apagar
 
gozar
 
aparcar
 
cargar
 
almorzar
 
atacar
 
castigar
 
lanzar
 
pecar
 
conjugar
 
aterrorizar
 
roncar
 
llegar
 
memorizar
 
empacar
 
negar
 
comenzar
 
buscar
 
pagar
 
danzar
 
colocar
 
pegar
 
rezar
 
edificar
 
enjuagar
 
organizar
 
sacar
 
fregar
 
tropezar
 
tocar
 
averiguar
 
destrozar
 
marcar
 
ligar
 
^^^^
 

Group 2: -caer, -eer, -oer, -oír, and -uir Verbs

The third person singular, third person plural and second person formal singular endings of these verbs all undergo the same change.

SubjectChangeExample
Third person singular (él, ella)i changes to e
leyó
 
Third person plural (ellos, ellas)i changes to e
leyeron
 
Second person formal singular (usted)i changes to e
leyó
 

Conjugation Examples

Here is an example of the full preterite tense conjugation for each type of verb.

Subject-caer Conjugation-eer Conjugation-oer Conjugation-oír Conjugation-uir Conjugation
yo
caí
 
leí
 
roí
 
 
concluí
 
caíste
 
leíste
 
roíste
 
oíste
 
concluíste
 
él, ella, usted
cayó
 
leyó
 
royó
 
oyó
 
concluyó
 
nosotros
caímos
 
leímos
 
roímos
 
oímos
 
concluímos
 
vosotros
caísteis
 
leísteis
 
roísteis
 
oísteis
 
concluísteis
 
ellos, ellas, ustedes
cayeron
 
leyeron
 
royeron
 
oyeron
 
concluyeron
 

Common -caer, -eer, -oer, -oír, and -uír Verbs

Here is a list of some common -caer, -eer, -oer, -oír, and -uír verbs you're likely to hear.

-caer Verbs-eer Verbs-oer Verbs-oír Verbs-uir Verbs
decaer
 
creer
 
corroer
 
entreoír
 
atribuir
 
recaer
 
poseer
 
distribuir
 
proveer
 
construir
 
releer
 
diluir
 
incluir
 
influir
 
disminuir
 
destituir
 
huir
 
contribuir
 
recluir
 

Take a practice quiz!

Practice what you know with our quiz tool.

Did this page answer your question?