Grammar Guide
Verbs
Spelling Changes in the Present Tense

Spelling Changes in the Present Tense

Quick Answer

For pronunciation reasons, there are several Spanish verbs that undergo a spelling change in certain present tense conjugations. We'll look at five groups of these stem-changing verbs in this article.

Group 1: -ger and -gir Verbs

  • Rule: In the first person singular, the g changes to a j.

Conjugation Examples

Subject-ger Conjugation-gir Conjugation
yo
protejo
finjo
proteges
finges
él, ella, usted
protege
finge
nosotros
protegemos
fingimos
vosotros
protegéis
fingís
ellos, ellas, ustedes
protegen
fingen

Common -ger and -gir Verbs

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
acoger
to greet
escoger
to choose
afligir
to afflict
exigir
to demand
coger
to catch, grab
fingir
to pretend
corregir
to correct
infringir
to infringe
dirigir
to direct
proteger
to protect
emerger
to emerge
recoger
to pick up
encoger
to shrink
restringir
to restrain
resurgir
to reappear
rugir
to roar
sumergir
to submerge
surgir
to emerge
urgir
to urge

Group 2: -guir Verbs

  • Rule: In the first person singular, the -gu changes to a g. (You could also rephrase this rule to say that the u is dropped in the first person singular.)

Conjugation Example

Subject-guir Conjugation
yo
distingo
distingues
él, ella, usted
distingue
nosotros
distinguimos
vosotros
distinguís
ellos, ellas, ustedes
distinguen

Common -guir Verbs

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
distinguir
to distinguish
perseguir
to pursue, to go after
conseguir
to come by, to get
proseguir
to proceed, to continue
erguir
to build
seguir
to follow
extinguir
to extinguish

Group 3: -uir Verbs

  • Rule: Between vowels, an unstressed i always changes to a y. In these verbs, the first person singular, second person singular, and third person singular and plural forms are affected.

Conjugation Example

Subject-uir Conjugation
yo
concluyo
concluyes
él, ella, usted
concluye
nosotros
concluimos
vosotros
concluís
ellos, ellas, ustedes
concluyen

Common -uir Verbs

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
argüir
to argue
destruir
to destroy
influir
to influence
intuir
to intuit
obstruir
to obstruct
recluir
to confine
reconstruir
to reconstruct
sustituir
to substitute
atribuir
to attribute
diluir
to dilute
constituir
to constitute
disminuir
to diminish
construir
to construct
distribuir
to distribute
contribuir
to contribute
huir
to run away
destituir
to dismiss
incluir
to include

Group 4: -cer and -cir Verbs

  • Rule One: If the letter that comes before -cer or -cir is a consonant, the c changes to a z in the first person singular.

Conjugation Example

Subject-cir Conjugation
yo
frunzo
frunces
él, ella, usted
frunce
nosotros
fruncimos
vosotros
fruncís
ellos, ellas, ustedes
fruncen

Common Consonant + -cer and -cir Verbs

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
convencer
to convince
fruncir
to frown
ejercer
to exert
vencer
to vanquish
esparcir
to disperse
zurcir
to darn
  • Rule Two: If the letter that comes before -cer or -cir is a vowel, a z is added to the first person singular.
Subject-cer Conjugation
yo
conozco
conoces
él, ella, usted
conoce
nosotros
conocemos
vosotros
conocéis
ellos, ellas, ustedes
conocen

Common Vowel + -cer and -cir Verbs

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
aborrecer
to detest
deducir
to deduce
producir
to produce
nacer
to be born
agradecer
to thank
desaparecer
to disappear
aparecer
to appear
desconocer
to ignore
reaparecer
to reappear
reconocer
to recognize
apetecer
to feel an urge for
establecer
to establish
complacer
to satisfy
inducir
to induce
reducir
to reduce
restablecer
to restore
conducir
to drive
introducir
to introduce
conocer
to know, to meet
merecer
to deserve
rejuvenecer
to rejuvenate
traducir
to translate
crecer
to grow
obedecer
to obey

Group 5: -go Verbs

  • Hacer, decir, and satisfacer do not follow the c --> -zc rule. Instead, the c changes to a g in the first person singular.

Conjugation Examples

SubjectDecir ConjugationHacer ConjugationSatisfacer Conjugation
yo
digo
hago
satisfago
dices
haces
satisfaces
él, ella, usted
dice
hace
satisface
nosotros
decimos
hacemos
satisfacemos
vosotros
decís
hacéis
satisfacéis
ellos, ellas, ustedes
dicen
hacen
satisfacen

Other Verbs that Add G to the First Person in the Present Tense

These verbs are informally called GO verbs.

InfinitiveYo FormInfinitive Translation
asir
asgo
to seize
salir
salgo
to leave
oír
oigo
to hear
tener
tengo
to have
poner
pongo
to put
valer
valgo
to cost

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