The Grammar Page

Grammar Basics



Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

FAQs & About drlemonĀ©®

Email me!

Creative Commons License by Deborah R. Lemon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

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
Él, ella, usted -o
Nosotros -imos

Ellos, ellas, ustedes



* 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:


él, ella, usted


ellos, ellas, ustedes


anduve anduviste anduvo anduvimos anduvieron


conduje condujiste condujo condujimos condujeron


dije dijiste dijo dijimos dijeron


estuve estuviste estuvo estuvimos estuvieron


hice hiciste hizo hicimos hicieron


puse pusiste puso pusimos pusieron


pude pudiste pudo pudimos pudieron


quise quisiste quiso quisimos quisieron


supe supiste supo supimos supieron


tuve tuviste tuvo tuvimos tuvieron


traje trajiste trajo trajimos trajeron


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


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.


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!