Grammar 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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