Language Guide
Verbs
Infinitives in Spanish

Infinitives in Spanish

Quick Answer

The infinitive (el infinitivo ) is the most basic form of a Spanish verb. Verbs in the infinitive form are not conjugated and do not indicate anything about who is performing an 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 are only one word and end in either -ar, -er, or -ir, as in hablar , leer , and escribir .

Verb Stems

Many verb tenses use a form of the infinitive as the stem to which verb conjugation endings are attached. In general, for regular verbs, you simply need to remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) to find the stem, and then you can the add specific endings needed to give tense/subject information.

-ar Verbs

Verbs that end in-ar are more common than -er and -ir verbs. There are also 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-

Want to learn more about Spanish infinitives? Check out our articles on infinitives used as nouns and infinitive commands.

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