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Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

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There are a fair number of verbs with irregular conjugation forms in the Preterite. These Irregular forms in the Preterite are said to have "radical" changes, that is, vowel and consonant changes in the root (or stem of the verb.) Furthermore, these changes occur in all of the conjugations (including the nosotros form.) These Irregular preterite changes are NOT for orthographic (spelling) reasons (like the verbs ending in -Car, -Gar and -Zar) nor are the changes in vowels similar to regular stem-changing verbs which affect certain -Ir conjugations in the Preterite. Verbs which have an Irregular Preterite form have their own conjugation - different from the established -Ar, -Er/-Ir Preterite conjugation pattern.

All Verbs with grossly irregular changes in the Preterite follow this conjugation:

-Ar, -Er, -Ir Irregular Verbs

Yo -e
-iste
Él, ella, usted -o
Nosotros -imos

Ellos, ellas, ustedes

 

-ieron*

* Verbs with a "J" at the end of the stem drop the "i" and just use: -eron

Notice that none of these conjugation endings have accent marks!

Here are some common Irregular verbs in the Preterite:

Yo

él, ella, usted

nosotros

ellos, ellas, ustedes

Andar

anduve anduviste anduvo anduvimos anduvieron

Conducir*

conduje condujiste condujo condujimos condujeron

Decir*

dije dijiste dijo dijimos dijeron

Estar

estuve estuviste estuvo estuvimos estuvieron

Hacer

hice hiciste hizo hicimos hicieron

Poner

puse pusiste puso pusimos pusieron

Poder

pude pudiste pudo pudimos pudieron

Querer

quise quisiste quiso quisimos quisieron

Saber

supe supiste supo supimos supieron

Tener

tuve tuviste tuvo tuvimos tuvieron

Traer*

traje trajiste trajo trajimos trajeron

Venir

vine viniste vino vinimos vinieron

Hacer in the third person singular changes out the "c" for a "z" to reflect the correct pronunciation.

Irregulars which use a "J" in the Preterite only add "-eron" (NOT "-ieron") to the third-person plural

Other verbs which are irregular in the Preterite

Dar

di diste dio dimos dieron

Dar is often humorously referred to as the "cross-dressing" verb, because in the Preterite Dar takes on the -Er/-Ir preterite verb endings rather than -Ar verb endings.

Ver

vi viste vio vimos vieron

Verbs with only 2 or 3 letters, such as Dar, Ser, Ir and Ver, also do not wear accent marks in the Preterite.

Remember that Spanish only uses accent marks when required for pronunciation or differentiation.

Ir & Ser

fui fuiste fue fuimos fueron

Notice that Ir and Ser share the same forms in the Preterite. This is not as confusing as it may appear. Since Ser refers to existence and identification, it is nearly impossible to use this in the Preterite which handles only completed actions. This preterite conjugation form will nearly always be Ir (an action verb) rather than Ser (a descriptive verb) which is usually conjugated in the Imperfect Past tense.

Also the context of a sentence or a conversation will let you know which is being used. For example:

  • Fui al supermercado clearly means "I went to the supermarket," not *"I was to the supermarket."
While there are more irregulars in the Preterite past tense than in any other tense, the good news is that Spanish makes up for it with a 99.99% regular Imperfect past tense!