How do we talk about an action in progress in Spanish? We use the Spanish present progressive tense, which we'll explore in this lesson.
What is present progressive in Spanish? Simply put, the present progressive tense in Spanish describes actions that are unfolding as we speak, at this moment. Also called the present progressive, its English equivalent includes some form of the verb "to be" in present tense along with the gerund, or -ing form, of a verb. Some examples include: "I'm reading," "You are watching TV," or "We are eating dinner." The Spanish present progressive, which we'll learn to conjugate, takes a very similar form.
So, when exactly do we use the present progressive tense in Spanish? And, what's the difference between the simple present and the Spanish present progressive? This can be a bit confusing since there is some overlap in terms of their English translations at times. Let's take a look:
¿Qué hacés vos acá? -¿Cómo qué hago? Corro.
What are you doing here? -What do you mean, what am I doing? I'm running.
Captions 65-66, Cuatro Amigas Piloto - Part 1Play Caption
Although, much like the present progressive, the simple present tense in Spanish can sometimes be translated into English using the -ing form to say that one "is doing" something in the present, the Spanish simple present tense is also used to describe actions one does on a habitual basis:
¿Y los sábados y domingos, qué haces?
And on Saturdays and Sundays, what do you do?
Caption 19, Español para principiantes Los días de la semanaPlay Caption
That said, if you really want to emphasize and/or remove any doubt that an action is in progress or happening at this moment, it's necessary to use the Spanish present progressive:
Silvia, ¿qué estás haciendo? -Estoy cocinando.
Silvia, what are you doing? -I'm cooking.
Captions 31-32, El Aula Azul Actividades diarias: En casa con SilviaPlay Caption
In fact, this last caption is from a video by El Aula Azul that simply and clearly demonstrates the difference between the simple present tense and the present progressive tense in Spanish.
Now that you know when to use the present progressive in Spanish, let's learn how to conjugate present progressive verbs in Spanish. To start, let's review (or learn!) the simple present conjugation of the verb estar (to be), which will convey the idea of "am" or "are":
Yo estoy (I am)
Tú estás (You are)
Él/ella/usted está (He, she is/you are)
Nosotros/nosotras estamos (We are)
Vosotros/vosotras estáis (You are [plural])
Ellos/ellas/ustedes están (They/you [plural] are)
Next, we'll need to break up infinitive Spanish verbs into two categories, verbs that end in -ar and verbs that end in either -er or -ir, in order to form their gerunds (gerundios).
To form the gerund for regular -ar verbs, we'll take the verb's stem (the part before the -ar) and add the suffix -ando. For example, for hablar (to talk), we take the stem habl- and add -ando to get hablando. Let's take a look at a few examples of regular -ar verbs in the present progressive tense in Spanish:
Entonces, en este momento, ¿veis?, está hablando con su madre por teléfono.
So, right now, you see? He's talking to his mom on the phone.
Captions 60-61, Clase Aula Azul Información con subjuntivo e indicativo - Part 1Play Caption
Eh... estoy buscando a Milagros.
Um... I am looking for Milagros.
Caption 6, Muñeca Brava 39 Verdades - Part 1Play Caption
Estamos caminando aquí en Bleeker Street
We are walking here on Bleeker Street
Caption 72, Eljuri "Fuerte" EPKPlay Caption
Conjugating regular -er and -ir verbs in the present progressive Spanish tense is just as easy! Simply take the stem (remove the -er or -ir) and add the suffix -iendo. Thus, for correr (to run), we have corr- plus -iendo to get corriendo, and for vivir (to live), we take viv- plus -iendo for viviendo. Let's look at a few more examples:
¿Por qué estás comiendo basura?
Why are you eating garbage?
Caption 9, Kikirikí Agua - Part 4Play Caption
Está subiendo, está subiendo la rama.
He's climbing, he's climbing the branch.
Caption 98, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: CoatísPlay Caption
¿Dónde estáis vendiendo aceite?
Where are you selling oil?
Caption 1, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 14Play Caption
Although the Spanish present progressive tense is arguably one of the easier verbs to learn to conjugate in Spanish, there are some irregular verbs, of course, which fall into a few categories. Let's examine those categories of verbs with irregular conjugations in the Spanish present progressive.
Verbs with the endings -aer, -eer, -oir, and -uir change from -iendo to -yendo in the Spanish present progressive. Here are some examples:
traer: trayendo (to bring/bringing)
caer: cayendo (to fall/falling)
leer: leyendo (to read/reading)
creer: creyendo (to believe/believing)
construir: construyendo (to build/building)
huir: huyendo (to escape/escaping)
oír: oyendo (to hear/hearing)
Interestingly, the present progressive form of the verb ir (to go) is also yendo:
Sí, me venía a despedir porque ya me estoy yendo.
Yes, I came to say goodbye because I'm leaving now.
Caption 90, Muñeca Brava 39 Verdades - Part 5Play Caption
Some verbs that change stems in the Spanish simple present tense also have an irregular form in the Spanish present progressive. Verbs whose stems change from -e to -ie (e.g. sentir becomes yo siento, tú sientes, etc.) or -e to -i (vestir changes to yo visto, tú vistes, etc.) tend to change stems from an -e to an -i in the Spanish present progressive as well, while maintaining the suffix -iendo. Let's take a look at some common examples:
sentir: sintiendo (to feel/feeling)
preferir: prefiriendo (to prefer/preferring)
mentir: mintiendo (to lie/lying)
vestir: vistiendo (to dress/dressing)
seguir: siguiendo (to follow/following)
conseguir: consiguiendo (to get/getting)
On the other hand, verbs that change from an -o to a -ue in the simple present often change from an -o to a -u in the Spanish present progressive while maintaining their regular ending (-iendo). Examples include poder ("to be able," which morphs into yo puedo, tú puedes, etc.), dormir (to sleep," which becomes yo duermo, tú duermes, etc.), and morir ("to die," which transforms to yo muero, tú mueres, etc.). Let's look:
poder: pudiendo (to be able/being able)
dormir: durmiendo (to sleep/sleeping)
morir: muriendo (to die/dying)
Verbs in this fourth category also change from -e to -i in the simple present (e.g. reír, or "to laugh," becomes yo río, tú ríes, etc.) but also have an -e before the -ir ending. In this case, the -e is dropped, while the ending -iendo is maintained, as follows:
reír: riendo (to laugh/laughing)
sonreír: sonriendo (to smile/smiling)
freír: friendo (to fry/frying)
The aforementioned irregular verbs in the present progressive in Spanish by no means constitute an exhaustive list, and although the rules that dictate which verbs are irregular might seem daunting, with increased exposure to Spanish, conjugating such irregular verbs in the present progressive in Spanish should become intuitive in no time!
Let's conclude today's lesson by looking at an example from each of the aforementioned categories of irregular present progressive verbs in Spanish:
Ellos están construyendo la puerta de entrada al santuario de burros.
They're building the entry gate to the donkey sanctuary.
Caption 25, Amaya VoluntariosPlay Caption
Esa mujer nos está mintiendo y quiero saber por qué.
That woman is lying to us and I want to know why.Play Caption
¡Aldo, tu hermano se está muriendo y a vos lo único que te interesa es la herencia!
Aldo, your brother is dying, and the only thing that interests you is the inheritance!
Caption 63, Yago 3 La foto - Part 5Play Caption
Se está riendo de todos nosotros.
He's laughing at all of us.Play Caption
That's all for today. For more information on the present progressive Spanish tense, check out our latest video from El Aula Azul on that very topic! And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.
What is the imperfect tense in Spanish? In contrast to the Spanish preterite, or simple past tense, which typically describes completed actions in the past, the imperfect tense in Spanish depicts past actions that were carried out regularly, over a longer period of time, or were in progress at a specified point. In addition to these uses of the imperfect tense in Spanish, there are other specific contexts in which it is necessary to use this tense, many of which we hope to illuminate for you today.
Let's take a look at some situations in which it is necessary to use the Spanish imperfect tense.
The imperfect tense in Spanish distinguishes actions that occurred on a habitual basis in the past from isolated incidents. Let's begin to understand this by examining how this idea might be expressed in English:
When I was young, I used to visit my grandparents every summer.
When I was young, I would visit my grandparents every summer.
When I was young, I visited my grandparents every summer.
Interestingly, all of these English sentences could be translated to Spanish using the same sentence in the imperfect tense: "Cuando yo era joven, visitaba a mis abuelos todos los veranos." This is because, despite their structural differences, they all mean the same thing: that the speaker would regularly visit his or her grandparents in the past.
Armed with this idea that the imperfect tense in Spanish can encompass various English constructions, let's take a look at some additional examples of sentences with verbs in the imperfect tense:
Cuentan los cronistas que veían desfilar a las tropas bajando desde lo que era el Cuartel de San Telmo hasta lo que hoy es conocido como el Bulevar donostiarra,
The chroniclers tell that they would see the troops parading, coming down from what used to be the San Telmo Barracks to what is known today as the "Bulevar donostiarra" [Donostiarra Boulevard]
Captions 26-28, Días festivos La Tamborrada de San SebastiánPlay Caption
eh... -Sí. -... practicaba fútbol.
um... -Yes. -...I used to play soccer.
Caption 27, Club 10 Capítulo 2 - Part 2Play Caption
In this second example, although an English speaker might say either, "Oh! I used to play soccer too!" or "Oh! I played soccer too!" to talk about something he or she did regularly at a previous juncture, the Spanish language would always employ the imperfect tense to distinguish this as a habitual action in the past. In contrast, if the speaker had just completed a game of soccer yesterday, he would instead use the preterite tense:
Ayer practiqué fútbol.
I played soccer yesterday.
All that said, at the moment of constructing a sentence, in order to decide when to use the imperfect tense in Spanish, an English speaker must consider whether a past action took place just once or over an extended period, in which case it will be necessary to choose the imperfect tense.
The imperfect tense in Spanish is also used to describe past actions that were incomplete or interrupted at the depicted moment. Let's take a look:
Vi que me acompañaba, mientras yo cantaba. -Sí.
I saw that you were accompanying me while I was singing. -Yes.
Caption 28, Yago 1 La llegada - Part 7Play Caption
Notice that imperfect verbs that describe past actions in progress are most commonly (but again, not always) expressed in English in the past progressive tense, e.g., "You were accompanying," "I was singing," etc. The same can be said of interrupted past actions, where the action in progress is conjugated in the imperfect tense in Spanish, while the interrupting action is in the preterite tense:
OK, o sea que vos pensás que yo iba por la calle y de repente conocí a una chica y la llevé a una obra en construcción para seducirla.
OK, in other words, you think that I was going down the street and suddenly, I met a girl and took her to a construction site to seduce her.
Captions 22-23, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 2Play Caption
Me sentía perdido hasta que un día me llegó un email.
I was feeling lost until, one day, I got an email.
Caption 24, Con ánimo de lucro Cortometraje - Part 10Play Caption
Notably, although the Spanish past progressive tense can also be used to describe incomplete or interrupted actions in some cases (e.g. Yo cocinaba cuando mi marido llegó a casa and Yo estaba cocinando cuando mi marido llegó a casa both mean "I was cooking when my husband got home"), in our examples above, the imperfect tense in Spanish would be the more likely choice.
Since they tend to be ongoing, rather than having a definite beginning or end, the imperfect tense in Spanish is additionally used to describe physical and other characteristics of people or things in the past.
Tenía una barba blanca que le llegaba hasta la cintura y una larga cabellera. Tenía además una corona dorada y vestía un manto blanco.
He had a white beard that went down to his waist and long hair. He also had a golden crown and wore a white robe.
Captions 12-14, Aprendiendo con Carlos América precolombina - El mito de BochicaPlay Caption
Pero no era la... mi... la Connie, mi esposa, sino era la otra, la rubia, que era muy bonita de ojos azules.
But it wasn't the... my... Connie, my wife, but rather it was the other one, the blonde, who was very pretty with blue eyes.
Captions 29-30, Gonzalo el Pintor Vida - Part 1Play Caption
Tenía su pata rota. Esta pata de aquí, la tenía rota.
His leg was broken. This leg here, it was broken.
Captions 17-18, Amaya La historia de LukasPlay Caption
Desde cuando tenía doce años, más o menos.
Since I was twelve years old, more or less.Play Caption
Additionally, since "setting the scene" might entail recounting what day or time it "was," dates and times must be described in the Spanish imperfect tense:
Eran las cinco de la tarde.
It was five o'clock in the evening.
ya que recuerdo que hacía un calor terrible, aunque todavía era el mes de junio,
as I remember that it was terribly hot, despite the fact that it was still the month of June,
Captions 38-39, Fermín y los gatos Mi gata PoeskaPlay Caption
The imperfect tense in Spanish is also utilized to speak about emotions in the past:
Un poquito y ajá, y estaba triste porque dejaba mi familia y eso y ya.
A little bit, and uh-huh, and I was sad because I was leaving my family and all that and that's it.
Caption 70, Cleer Entrevista a LilaPlay Caption
Todos en la casa estaban muy emocionados
Everyone in the house was very excited,
Caption 17, Cuentos de hadas Cenicienta - Part 1Play Caption
So... when do you use the imperfect tense in Spanish? We hope that this lesson has made it more clear that, in contrast to the Spanish preterite tense, the Spanish imperfect is reserved for past events that "kept on going" for an extended period. For more examples of imperfect tense in Spanish, we recommend Carlos' video on this topic, where he explores not only when to use imperfect tense in Spanish, but also how to conjugate its regular and some of its most common irregular forms.
That's all for today, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.
What are reflexive verbs in Spanish? A reflexive verb is a verb in which the subject (person or thing that completes the action) and object (person or thing that receives the action) are one in the same. In other words, the action "reflects back" onto the subject, or entails something one does to or for him or herself. It is no wonder then, that many of the things we "do to ourselves" in our daily routines (e.g. shaving ourselves, washing ourselves, etc.) fall into the category of reflexive Spanish verbs.
How can we recognize Spanish reflexive verbs? The main way to distinguish reflexive verbs in Spanish is by the fact that they all end in the pronoun se in their infinitive form. To take a very simple example, while the verb hablar means "to talk," hablarse is a reflexive verb meaning "to talk to oneself." However, the translations for reflexive verbs in Spanish aren't always so straight-forward.
As we often say just "I shave" or "I wash" in lieu of "I shave/wash myself," the English translations of Spanish reflexive verbs won't always include pronouns like "myself," "yourself," etc. In other cases, the meanings of verbs like parecer (to seem) completely change in their reflexive forms (parecerse means "to look like"). And so, as there are a lot more reflexive verbs in Spanish than in English, many of which may not "seem" reflexive, with increased exposure to Spanish, we will learn which English concepts are expressed with Spanish reflexive verbs.
To conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish, we must memorize the reflexive pronouns that correspond to each personal pronoun: yo (I), tú (you), etc.). Reflexive pronouns are most often placed before the verb, which is conjugated "as usual" (in the same way as its non-reflexive form). To demonstrate this, let's take a look at the reflexive pronouns and the simple present conjugation of the regular verb hablar. We will then show you the conjugation of its reflexive form (hablarse).
|Personal Pronoun||Reflexive Pronoun||Hablar||Hablarse|
|él, ella, usted||se||habla||se habla|
|ellos/as, ustedes||se||hablar||se hablan|
Now that you know the Spanish reflexive pronouns and how to conjugate reflexive Spanish verbs, let's take a look at some examples of reflexive verbs in Spanish for describing things that many of us do on a daily basis, with lots of instances from our Yabla video library as always! Here is our list of Spanish reflexive verbs for your daily routine:
The Spanish reflexive verb despertarse means "to wake up":
y por la mañana me despierto entre seis y cuarenta y cinco a siete y cuarto.
and in the morning I wake up between six forty-five and seven fifteen.Play Caption
After waking up, the next step might be levantarse ("to get up" or "get out of bed"):
Se levanta muy temprano.
She gets up very early.
Caption 51, El Aula Azul Las Profesiones - Part 1Play Caption
In other contexts, the reflexive Spanish verb levantarse could also mean, among other things, "to stand up" or "get up," as from a seat, or even "to rise up against," as in a rebellion.
The Spanish noun baño means "bath," and the verb bañarse can mean "to take a bath" as well. However, as bañarse can also be the more general "to bathe," a person might even use this verb to express the fact that they are taking a shower! Let's look at an example of this reflexive Spanish verb:
Uno se baña todos los días, mijita.
One bathes every day, my girl.
Caption 41, Muñeca Brava 33 El partido - Part 2Play Caption
On the other hand, if a person at the beach expresses their desire to bañarse, rather than wanting to wash the sand off of themselves, they are letting you know they would like to take a dip! The Spanish reflexive verb bañarse can also mean "to go swimming," a translation that often comes as a surprise to English speakers:
No hay muchas olas grandes como en Atacames. Es más tranquilo para bañarse.
There aren't many big waves like in Atacames. It's more peaceful to go swimming.
Captions 62-63, Pipo Un paseo por la playa de AtacamesPlay Caption
In the morning, at night, or after the beach, indeed, one might need to ducharse (to take a shower):
¿Qué está haciendo Silvia? Silvia se está duchando.
What is Silvia doing? Silvia is taking a shower.
Captions 11-12, El Aula Azul Actividades diarias: En casa con SilviaPlay Caption
Note that, in this example, the verb ducharse is conjugated in the present progressive tense. As with the present indicative and all other tenses, verbs are conjugated in the exact same way as they would be were they non-reflexive, with the addition of the appropriate reflexive pronoun.
The reflexive verb in Spanish lavarse generally means "to wash (oneself)." Let's look at an example:
Por ejemplo, "Yo me lavo". La acción recae sobre la persona que realiza la acción. Pero, "Yo lavo los platos".
For example, "Yo me lavo" [I wash myself]. The action falls back upon the person who carries out the action. But, "Yo lavo los platos" [I wash the dishes].
Captions 45-48, Lecciones con Carolina Verbos reflexivosPlay Caption
In this informative video about Spanish reflexive verbs, Yabla fan favorite Carolina explains the difference between reflexive and non-reflexive verbs, in this case the verbs lavar (to wash) and lavarse (to wash oneself). Let's look at an additional example:
Yo me lavo las manos. Tú te lavas las manos.
I wash my hands. You wash your hands.
Captions 19-20, Fundamentos del Español 9 - Verbos ReflexivosPlay Caption
Unlike in English, where we express the idea of washing one's hands or some other body part with a possessive pronoun (my, your, etc.), this is not the case in Spanish. Instead, we use the definite article for the noun in question, manos (hands), in this case, las (the). Because the reflexive pronoun already indicates that the action is something we do to ourselves, it would be redundant in Spanish to say: Yo me lavo mis manos. As the correct way to express this is "Yo me lavo las manos," it might help you to remember the literal but non-sensical translation: "I wash myself the hands."
That said, let's move on to something else that's expressed with the notion of "washing" in Spanish: lavarse los dientes (to brush one's teeth).
Lavarse los dientes (literally "to wash one's teeth") is one of saying "to brush one's teeth" in Spanish:
Después, ehm... suelo lavarme los dientes en el baño,
After that, um... I usually brush my teeth in the bathroom,
Caption 3, El Aula Azul Actividades DiariasPlay Caption
Different countries, regions, or individuals might instead use cepillarse los dientes, which also means "to brush one's teeth." Let's check out an example in the preterite tense:
Se cepilló los dientes,
He brushed his teeth,
Caption 20, Aprendiendo con Carlos El microrrelato - Part 2Play Caption
By extension, the noun el cepillo means "the brush," and we might have a cepillo de dientes (toothbrush) as well as a cepillo de pelo/cabello (hair brush), as in the following caption:
Sí... -¿Qué necesitamos para ir allí? El cepillo de dientes. El cepillo del pelo.
Yes... -What do we need to go there? A toothbrush. A hair brush.
Captions 49-51, Un Viaje a Mallorca Planificando el viajePlay Caption
So, you've probably surmised by now that the verb cepillarse el pelo/cabello means "to brush one's hair."
The verb peinarse can mean "to comb one's hair" with a comb (un peine), "to brush one's hair," or "to do" or "style" one's hair in general:
Por eso paró en la playa para mirarse en el espejo y peinarse.
That's why she stopped on the beach to look at herself in the mirror and comb her hair.
Captions 21-22, Guillermina y Candelario Mi Amiga la SirenaPlay Caption
Afeitarse is the verb for "to shave" (oneself, of course)!
Vos sabés lo que es todas las mañanas... mirarse en el espejo cuando uno se afeita
Do you know what it's like every morning... to look at oneself in the mirror when one's shaving,
Captions 30-31, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 13Play Caption
The next step in one's morning routine might be maquillarse (to put on makeup):
Aquí, siempre me maquillo para mis conciertos.
Here, I always put on makeup for my concerts.
Caption 47, Ariana Mi CasaPlay Caption
Alternatively, one might say Aquí, siempre me pinto para mis conciertos, as pintarse (literally "to paint oneself") also means "to put on makeup."
Vestirse is the way to say "to get dressed" in Spanish.
Yo salgo y... y te vistes.
I'll leave and... and you get dressed.Play Caption
Another way to say this might be ponerse la ropa (to put on one's clothes).
Although sacarse la ropa is one manner of saying "to get undressed" or "take off one's clothes," there are many other examples of reflexive verbs in Spanish that mean the same thing, including: quitarse la ropa, desvestirse, and desnudarse. Let's look at a couple of examples:
Si "Libertinaje" te saca... te invita a sacarte la ropa,
If "Libertinaje" takes off your..... invites you to take off your clothes,
Captions 4-5, Bersuit Vergarabat EPK - Part 1Play Caption
Y se desnuda poco a poco y se convierte en tu piel
And she gets naked little by little and she becomes your skin
Caption 6, Reik InolvidablePlay Caption
As you can see, the more literal "to get naked" might be an alternate translation for desnudarse.
We're finally getting to the end of our daily routine, when it's time for us to acostarnos (go to bed):
Tranquilícese, vaya a acostarse y deje de pensar en imposibles.
Calm down, go to bed, and stop thinking about impossible things.
Caption 31, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 5Play Caption
And finally, once in bed, it's time to fall asleep! While the non-reflexive dormir means "to sleep," dormirse means "to fall asleep."
Me dormí pensando en ti; pensando en ti, me desperté
I fell asleep thinking about you; thinking about you, I woke up
Caption 10, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 13Play Caption
Of course, this is just a partial list of reflexive verbs in Spanish that might be applicable to our daily routines. There are a lot more common reflexive verbs in Spanish that describe things one might do on a daily basis, including secarse (to dry oneself off), sentarse (to sit down), sentirse (to feel), emocionarse (to get excited), encontrarse con alguien (to meet with someone), acordarse de (to remember), olvidarse (to forget), sonreírse (to smile), reírse (to laugh), despedirse (to say goodbye), irse (to leave), and many, many more!
Let's talk about the Spanish conjugation of regular verbs. In particular, let's see how to form the preterite conjugation of regular verbs ending in -ar, -er, and -ir. But first, let's review the main idea behind the preterite tense in Spanish.
In very simple terms, when we talk about the Spanish preterite tense, we are talking about the simple past, in other words, a completed action that took place at a determined point in the past. Let's look at an example from the series where our friend Carlos talks about this tense:
Ayer trabajé hasta las ocho de la noche.
Yesterday I worked until eight at night.Play Caption
In this example, trabajé is the preterite conjugation of the regular verb trabajar for the first-person singular yo (I). Note that the only change necessary to form the preterite in this example is removing the -ar ending of the infinitive verb and replacing it with the ending -é.
There are a couple of things we want to mention about the conjugations you will find throughout this tutorial.
1. While usted (the formal, second-person singular "you") does not appear in our conjugation lists, keep in mind that when using that pronoun, the verb is conjugated in the exact same way as verbs in the third-person singular forms with él (he) and ella (she). Let's take a look at this in action with the preterite conjugation of the verb hablar (to speak/talk):
Usted habló de Fabio Sirenio.
You talked about Fabio Sirenio.
Caption 83, Yago 7 Encuentros - Part 14Play Caption
Entonces él habló con... con los pescadores y los pescadores aceptaron.
So, he spoke with... with the fishermen and the fishermen accepted.
Caption 17, Instinto de conservación Parque Tayrona - Part 6Play Caption
2. In order to offer a more simplistic verb conjugation snapshot, in this article, we only employ the masculine versions of the plural forms nosotros (we), vosotros (you), and ellos (they). That said, keep in mind that the conjugations are the same for the feminine forms nosotras, vosotras, and ellas.
3. Just like usted, ustedes (the standard second person plural "you" in Latin America and the formal second person plural in Spain) does not appear among the conjugations shared here. However, keep in mind that the conjugations of verbs with "ustedes" are the exact same as the third-person plural forms utilized with ellos and ellas (they). Let's look at an example of this with the preterite conjugation of the verb cantar (to sing):
Ustedes cantaron muy bien (You guys sang very well).
Ellos/Ellas cantaron muy bien (They sang very well).
Having said all this, let's explore the preterite conjugations of some regular verbs in Spanish.
Let's take a look at the preterite conjugation of the verb hablar (to speak).
Yo hablé (I spoke).
Tú hablaste (You spoke).
Él/Ella habló (He/She spoke).
Nosotros hablamos (We spoke).*
Vosotros hablasteis (You spoke).
Ellos hablaron (They spoke).
* It's important to note that because the verb conjugation for the first person plural "nosotros" (we) is the same for both the simple present and simple past tenses, the speaker's intention must be determined by context as follows:
Nosotros estudiamos mucho todos los días (We study a lot every day).
Ayer nosotros estudiamos mucho (Yesterday, we studied a lot).
Example 1.: The verb comprar (to buy)
¡Y compraste melones en vez de limones!*
And you bought melons instead of lemons!Play Caption
* Remember that pronouns are frequently omitted in Spanish. Thus, in the example above and without changing the meaning, one could say: "¡Y tú compraste melones en vez de limones!" However, despite the fact that the speaker does not use the pronoun here, the -aste verb ending lets the listener know that the person referred to is "tú" (you).
Example 2.: The verb escuchar (to listen/hear)
La canción que escuchamos introduce la quinta parte del primer episodio
The song that we heard introduces the fifth part of the first episodePlay Caption
Let's take a look at the preterite conjugation of the regular verb comer (to eat).
Yo comí (I ate).
Tú comiste (You ate).
Él/Ella comió (He/She ate).
Nosotros comimos (We ate).
Vosotros comisteis (You ate).
Ellos comieron (They ate).
Example 1.: The verb aprender (to learn)
y aprendí que los pulpos pueden cambiar de color.
and I learned that octopi can change color.
Caption 45, Guillermina y Candelario La Señora PulpoPlay Caption
Example 2.: The verb vender (to sell)
creo que vendimos unos quinientos dólares en unas... tres horas, dos horas.
I think we sold about five hundred dollars (worth) in about... three hours, two hours.
Captions 25-26, Un café con Julia Año nuevoPlay Caption
Let's take a look at the preterite conjugation of the verb vivir (to live).
Yo viví (I lived).
Tú viviste (You lived).
Él/Ella vivió (He/She lived).
Nosotros vivimos (We lived).
Vosotros vivisteis (You lived).
Ellos vivieron (They lived).
Example 1.: The verb escribir (to write)
¿Por qué dices eso? Porque una vez me escribiste contándome que te casabas en Nueva York.
Why do you say that? Because once you wrote to me telling me that you were getting married in New York.
Captions 61-62, Yago 6 Mentiras - Part 5Play Caption
Example 2.: The verb abrir (to open)
Primero, Lisa Bernal abrió la herida,
First, Lisa Bernal opened the wound,
Caption 61, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 6 - Part 4Play Caption
And with this example, we have reached the end of this lesson. But before we go, a little homework for you: go ahead and choose some other regular verbs and practice the Spanish conjugation of the preterite tense. Sooner or later, you will be able to master those preterite endings! We hope you enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to leave us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!
Generally speaking, we use the present indicative in Spanish to talk about actions that are taking place at the moment (now). However, that's not the only use of it. Let's take a look at the following list so you can understand how to use the present indicative in Spanish.
Actions that are taking place right at the moment (now):
¿Dónde están las chicas? ¿Las chicas? -Ajá. Lola y Ana. -Uh... Lola y Ana viven aquí.
Where are the girls? The girls? -Uh-huh. Lola and Ana. -Uh... Lola and Ana live here.
Captions 26-29, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 1 - La llegada de Sam - Part 4Play Caption
In the above sentence, you can see how the verbs estar (to be) and vivir (to live) are conjugated in the present indicative for the third person plural (las chicas/Lola y Ana/ellas... están/viven).
You can also talk about actions that take place over time:
Trabajo en un colegio. Soy maestra de música y de ciencias.
I work at a school. I'm a music and science teacher.
Captions 6-7, Ariana Mi CasaPlay Caption
In this example, you can see the verbs trabajar (to work) and ser (to be) conjugated in the present indicative for the first person singular (yo trabajo/soy).
IMPORTANT! Remember that in Spanish it is very common to drop the pronouns from the sentences. As you can see in the sentence above, Ariana doesn't say "yo trabajo" but rather only "trabajo".
En agosto, vamos a la playa. En septiembre, empieza el otoño.
In August, we go to the beach. In September, the fall begins.
Captions 21-22, El Aula Azul Estaciones y MesesPlay Caption
In the example above, we can see the present indicative of the verb ir (to go) in the first person plural (nosotros vamos) and the present indicative of the verb empezar (to begin) in the third person singular (el otoño empieza).
La Laguna de San Pablo está a los pies del imponente Volcán Imbabura.
The San Pablo Lagoon is at the foot of the imposing Imbabura Volcano.
Caption 13, Otavalo Un día en la ciudad de los lagosPlay Caption
In the example above, Natalia uses the present indicative of the verb estar for the third person singular (está) to state a fact.
You can talk about daily activities and habitual actions using the present indicative:
De lunes a viernes, me levanto a las siete de la mañana.
From Monday to Friday, I get up at seven in the morning.
Caption 2, GoSpanish La rutina diaria de SolPlay Caption
In the above clip, you can see how Sol uses the present indicative of the verb levantarse (yo me levanto) to express one of her habitual actions.
Dante y Mika vienen todos los días a trabajar conmigo aquí al Refugio del Burrito,
Dante and Mika come work with me every day here at the Little Donkey Shelter,
Caption 62, Rosa La perrita MikaPlay Caption
Similarly, Rosa uses the present indicative of the verb venir (to come) to describe something habitual. In this case, the verb is conjugated in the third person plural (Dante y Mika/ellos... vienen).
Did you know that the present indicative can be used for things happening in the near future? Let's see some examples.
Le prometo que termino de morfar y... y salgo a laburar. Va a ver.
I promise you that I'll finish eating and... and go out to work. You'll see.
Caption 63, Yago 8 Descubrimiento - Part 7Play Caption
In this sentence, the speaker is using the present indicative of the verb salir (to go out) in order to express an action that will take place in the near future. Once he's done with his lunch, he will go out to work. The verb is conjugated in the first person singular (yo salgo).
Bueno, pues entonces, no hay que pensarlo más. Mañana hablamos con el jefe y desde la oficina
OK, well then, we don't have to think about it anymore. Tomorrow we'll talk to the boss and from the office
Captions 11-12, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 6Play Caption
In the previous example, you can fully appreciate how the present indicative of the verb hablar (to talk) is used to indicate an action that will take place tomorrow! This may be a bit weird for English speakers but it is a very common formula used by Spanish speakers. The verb is conjugated in the second person plural (nosotros hablamos).
Finally, it is worth mention that in journalism and the academic field, some people like to use the present indicative when referring to historical facts. Let's see the following example:
El Imperio romano cae en el año 476
The Roman Empire falls in the year 476
And that's it for today. We hope this lesson helped you to understand how to use the present indicative in Spanish. And don't forget to send us your comments and questions.
Generally speaking, we use the conditional tense in Spanish to talk about hypothetical things. However, we also use the conditional tense for polite requests or when we want to express wishes and desires. Let's take a look at some simple rules that will help you to master the conditional tense in Spanish.
Before talking about the uses of the conditinal tense, it is important to review how to conjugate it. Let's start with the regular verbs. For these verbs, you just need to take the infinitive form and add the conditional ending.
Let's take the verb hablar (to speak)
Yo hablaría (I would speak)
Tú hablarías (You would speak)
Él/Ella hablaría (He/She would speak)
Nosotros hablaríamos (We would speak)
Vosotros hablaríais (You would speak)
Ellos hablarían (They would speak)
Let's take the verb comer (to eat)
Yo comería (I would eat)
Tú comerías (You would eat)
Él/Ella comería (He/She would eat)
Nosotros comeríamos (We would eat)
Vosotros comeríais (You would eat)
Ellos comerían (They would eat)
Let's take the verb abrir (to open)
Yo abriría (I would open)
Tú abrirías (You would open)
Él/Ella abriría (He/She would open)
Nosotros abriríamos (We would open)
Vosotros abriríais (You would open)
Ellos abrirían (They would open)
There are several irregular verbs that are used all the time in the conditional tense. For these verbs, you need to keep in mind that they maintain the same stem that they have in the future tense. Let's see the conjugation for the verbs decir (to say) and hacer (to make).
Yo diría (I would say)
Tú dirías (You would say)
Él/Ella diría (He/She would say)
Nosotros diríamos (We would say)
Vosotros diríais (You would say)
Ellos dirían (They would say)
Yo haría (I would make)
Tú harías (You would make)
Él/Ella haría (He/She would make)
Nosotros haríamos (We would make)
Vosotros haríais (You would make)
Ellos harían (They would make)
In Spanish, it is quite common to use the conditional tense when you want to do any of the following:
¿Podrías por favor decirnos a los... a nuestros amigos de Yabla
Could you please tell us to the... to our friends from Yabla
en qué lugar están ustedes?
where you guys are?
Captions 66-67, Monsieur Periné - EntrevistaPlay Caption
¿Te gustaría volver a tu ciudad?
Would you like to return to your city?
Pues la verdad es que me encantaría volver a Málaga.
Well the truth is that I would love to go back to Málaga.
Captions 33-34, Clara y Cristina - SaludarPlay Caption
Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él.
Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.Play Caption
Cuatro horas es demasiado.
Four hours is too much.
Creo que no llegaría a tiempo a la reunión.
I think that I would not arrive in time for the meeting.
Captions 30-31, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de TrenPlay Caption
Y que nos juramos que esto nunca iría a pasar
And we vowed to each other that this would never happenPlay Caption
That's it for this lesson. We encourage you to write some sentences for the 5 different uses we mentioned for the conditional tense. And don't forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
Can you give orders or express requests using the subjunctive? In this lesson, we are going to answer that question. Let's analyze some model sentences to learn how to combine the subjunctive with other moods and tenses. You can read our previous lesson on subjunctive and indicative here.
You can combine the imperative (which is only conjugated in the present tense) with two different tenses of the subjunctive. The easiest and the most common case is when you use the imperative with the present subjunctive. Here are two examples (remember we're using bold for the subjunctive):
Tú haz lo que quieras y yo también.
You do whatever you want and so do I.
Caption 74, Jugando a la Brisca En la callePlay Caption
Y decile a tu amigo que deje de llamarme Vicky.
And tell your friend to quit calling me Vicky.
Caption 19, Muñeca Brava 1 Piloto - Part 4Play Caption
Keep in mind that decí (tell) is typically Argentinian. In other countries, you would hear di (tell): dile a tu amigo (tell your friend).
But going back to the subjunctive, let's analyze the meaning of the expression in the last example. Spanish uses the subjunctive here because what has been said is in the realm of possibilities (in this case, it is the expression of a desire) not in the realm of facts. So you can't say dile que me deja de llamarme Vicky—this is incorrect because the indicative deja (he quits) is reserved to state facts, as in tu amigo deja de llamarme Vicky (your friend quits calling me Vicky).
Another way to phrase the same request could be dile a tu amigo que no me llame Vicky (tell your friend not to call me Vicky). Note that instead of using the verb dejar (to quit) we use a negation plus the verb llamar (to call) in present subjunctive (llame). Again, you could not possibly use the indicative mood here and say dile a tu amigo que no me llama Vicky. This is incorrect— well, at least if what you want to express is a desire or a request.
For the pure pleasure of curiosity, consider an expression in which this last construction could happen, for example: dile a tu amigo que no me llama Vicky que venga a mi fiesta (tell your friend who doesn't call me Vicky to come to my party). See? We use the indicative llama (he calls) to express that it's a fact that he doesn't call Victoria "Vicky," and then we use the subjunctive venga (to come) because it states Victoria's desire for him to come to her party.
But let's not torture ourselves with games and let's see the second case of imperative combined with subjunctive, this time the pretérito perfecto (equivalent to present perfect subjunctive) which is a compound tense that uses the auxiliary verb haber (to have):
Haz lo que te hayan dicho los doctores.
Do whatever the doctors have told you.
Dame lo que hayas cocinado.
Give me whatever you have cooked.
Dime lo que María te haya contado.
Tell me whatever Maria has told you.
This is not exactly an easy tense, right? Compare these sentences with the following ones that use the imperative with the present subjunctive (reviewed first in this lesson):
Haz lo que te digan los doctores.
Do whatever the doctors tell you.
Dame algo de lo que cocines mañana.
Give me some of what you cook tomorrow.
Dime lo que María quiera.
Tell me whatever Maria wants.
The good news is that you can find ways to get away without using the pretérito perfecto del subjuntivo. For example, you can just use the simple past indicative. It's much less... let's say sophisticated, because the subtle meaning of indeterminacy that the subjunctive gives to the expression (which in English is expressed using the word "whatever") gets lost. Still, the past indicative gets the job done:
Haz lo que te dijeron los doctores.
Do what the doctors told you.
Dame lo que cocinaste.
Give me what you cooked.
Dime lo que María te contó.
Tell me what Maria told you.
That's it for today. We hope you liked this lesson and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.
¡Hasta la próxima!
The Spanish subjunctive is one of the most challenging concepts for English speakers to master. Even though English does actually have a subjunctive mood (already challenging by itself), its use is more associated with formal and written speech. By contrast, Spanish uses the subjunctive in everyday situations far more often. And it gets even more challenging if you consider the many ways in which the subjunctive can be combined with other moods in Spanish. So let's try to tackle this prickly subject. But instead of talking about rules and grammar, let's try to take a more practical approach by learning and analyzing model sentences.
A brief intro. It's very likely that you have already read a lot about the subjunctive. You know that it is not a tense but a mood. That it doesn't refer to the time when an action takes place (past, present, future, etc.), but rather that it reflects how the speaker feels about it. Therefore, that it's radically different from the most commonly used indicative mood, which expresses factual information, certainty, and objectivity. Very much like an evil twin, the subjunctive is used to express the opposite: things like doubt, uncertainty, subjectivity, etc. We have explored the basic use of the subjunctive before in previous lessons, and you are welcome to explore them again. Some are:
We also have a couple of videos on the subjunctive:
El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - Subjuntivo y condicional
Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula - Part 1
In this lesson we will focus on the use of the subjunctive combined with the indicative mood by studying model sentences. Take note: we will always use bold to highlight the subjunctive and underlining for the indicative. Also, we recommend that you use https://conjuguemos.com if you need to check out the Spanish verb conjugation charts.
The Spanish present subjunctive is notoriously used combined with the indicative present in sentences for which English uses only the indicative. There is a memorable sentence you can use as a model to remember this:
Quiero que me quieras
I want you to want me
Caption 1, Gael García Bernal - Quiero Que Me QuierasPlay Caption
So never say quiero que me quieres, ok? That makes the same sense in Spanish that "I want that you would want me" makes in English. Get it? Another example: don't say no deseo que sufres, instead say no deseo que sufras ( I don't want you to suffer).
Present subjunctive can be combined with indicative future:
Desearé que tengas un buen viaje
I'll wish that you have a good journey
Captions 40-41, Kany Garcia - Hoy Ya Me VoyPlay Caption
Now, you can also combine the past indicative with the past subjunctive. The easiest and most common case is when you combine the pretérito del indicativo (simple past indicative) with pretérito imperfecto subjuntivo (past imperfect subjunctive). Call it the Simple Past Mash-up:
Siempre quise que fueras feliz.
I always wanted you to be happy.
Caption 16, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 6Play Caption
Then you can also combine the pretérito imperfecto del indicativo (imperfect past indicative) with the same pretérito imperfecto subjuntivo (past imperfect subjunctive). As you may know, the imperfect is used to refer to past habitual actions or to set the scene in the past. So if this is of any help to you, you could call this the Habitual Past Mash-up. Here's a model sentence using the same verb querer (to want):
Ella quería que yo leyera.
She wanted me to read.
Caption 17, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1Play Caption
So, in Spanish you have these two options that translate the same way in English. Feel comfortable using either of them; the difference is quite subtle:
Ella no quizo que yo leyera / Ella no quería que yo leyera.
She didn't want me to read / She (habitually) didn't want me to read.
Note: there are other options to combine the past indicative with the past subjunctive, but we'll skip them since they use compound forms of the verb and are not used that often in common speech. Instead, let's analyze and learn some interesting combinations of present indicative with past subjunctive next.
Spanish speakers use present indicative with past subjunctive and vice versa. This happens with the past perfect tense (either in the subjunctive or in the indicative moods) because of its proximity to the present tense.
When it's present indicative with past subjunctive, it's with the pretérito perfecto subjuntivo, a compound tense in the subjunctive mood that uses the verb haber (to have) plus a participio (the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho ending):
No creo que hayas venido nada más que para decirme algo que yo ya sé.
I don't think that you've come just to tell me something that I already know.
Caption 12, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 10Play Caption
We suggest you to practice this model sentence with other persons and forms of this subjunctive (using different participios as well):
No creo que hayan tomado mucha cerveza / I don't think that they've drunk a lot of beer.
No creo que él haya salido de ahí / I don't think that he has come out of there.
No creo que hayamos impreso eso / I don't think that we've printed that.
No creo que hayas dicho eso / I don't think that you've said that out.
Note also that here no creo (I don't think) is expressing doubt, and that's why the sentence needs the use of subjunctive. If we were to say the opposite, yo creo (I think), we could also combine it with a past tense but in the indicative mood. For the first example: Creo que han tomado mucha cerveza (I think they have drunk a lot of beer).
Finally, the other way around, Spanish speakers can use past indicative with present subjunctive. When this happens it's with the pretérito perfecto indicativo, a compound tense in the indicative mood that uses the verb haber (to have) plus aparticipio (the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho ending):
Él no ha querido que yo diga nada.
He hasn't wanted me to say anything.
And that's it for now. Who said this lesson wouldn't be loaded with grammar? Anyway, we suggest that you learn the model sentences and try to build new ones making substitutions. We will continue next week analyzing sentences that combine subjunctive with other two moods: the conditional and the imperative.
Let's stop by the kitchen of the Di Carlo mansion, setting of preparations for the big gala in Muñeca Brava. The maids are very excited. They want to get a detailed description of how Mili looked as she made her Cinderella-like debut. Notice that Socorrito uses the imperfect tense of both ver (to look) and bajar (to go down, to lower, to descend) when she asks:
...Contame, contame, ¿cómo se la veía cuando bajaba de la escalera?
...Tell me, tell me, how did she look as she was walking down the stairs?
Caption 1, Muñeca Brava - 41 La Fiesta - Part 2Play Caption
If you've ever heard anything at all about the imperfect tense, it's that it applies to past actions that are not completed or that are ongoing. We see that quite clearly above in the case of bajaba; Mili "was walking down," an action that was ongoing at the time. However, another rule of the imperfect, one less bandied about, also comes into play here: the imperfect is employed when describing two or more simultaneous past actions. Socorrito wants to know how Mili "looked" (using the imperfect veía) as (at the same point in time) she was going down the stairs.
With her usual enthusiasm, Mariposa definitely puts them in the moment when she answers:
Socorrito, ¡no sabe lo que era! Parecía una princesa.
Socorrito, you can't imagine! She looked like a princess.
Caption 2, Muñeca Brava - 41 La Fiesta - Part 2Play Caption
There is yet another well-documented use of the imperfect that we can cite here: its use to "set the scene" or provide background information, especially at the beginning of a larger story. She uses the imperfect era (from ser, to be) when she says ¡no sabe lo que era! which literally translates to "you don't know how it was!" And she employs parecía (she looked like), which is an imperfect conjugation of parecer (to appear as/to look like/to seem like). Mariposa is setting the stage for the fairy tale taking place in the ballroom, and doing so in much the same way one would recite an actual fairy tale (which is no surprise if you remember that Muñeca Brava is a retelling of the Cinderella story).
The start of your average ghost tale or mystery story makes a good illustration of using the imperfect to paint a background picture:
Era una noche oscura y tormentosa, llovía y unos pájaros cantaban a lo lejos.
It was a dark and stormy night. It was raining and a few birds were singing from a distance.
[Note that in Spanish one can also use the past continuous tense, for example estaba lloviendo (it was raining) or estaban cantando (they were singing)—but it would not likely be used by native speakers when setting a scene or providing a backdrop. We'll look at the past continuous, aka past progressive, in a different lesson.]
More well-known to the average student of Spanish is the use of the imperfect to refer to a habitual or repeated action in the past. We saw an example of this in an earlier episode of Muñeca Brava when Milena says to Louise:
Sí, antes nos veíamos siempre.
Yes, we always used to see each other.
Caption 68, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 11Play Caption
Y muchas veces la gente se confundía.
And several times people would get confused.Play Caption
The other simple past tense in Spanish (called "simple" because its conjugations are only one word long) is known as preterite and is used for past actions that are completed and non-habitual. We find an example in a recent music video from The Krayolas:
Cuando yo la vi por primera vez me enamoré en un dos por tres
When I saw her for the first time I fell in love with her instantly
Captions 1-2, The Krayolas - Little FoxPlay Caption
The singer uses the preterite vi (saw) instead of the imperfect veía (was seeing/used to see) because he is talking about a specific, completed instance of laying eyes on someone.
Somos dos, nunca sola vas a ir
We are two, you will never go alone
Caption 17, Liquits - Desde QuePlay Caption
Somos dos, juntos vamos a vivir
We are two, together we will live
Caption 19, Liquits - Desde QuePlay Caption
A quick word about the future tense in spoken Spanish: In many cases, it's simply not used. Instead, you commonly hear the present tense of ir (voy, vas, va, vamos, van) followed by a, followed by an infinitive of a verb (such as, ir or vivir). In this song by the Mexican group Liquits, the construction makes for some catchy refrains ("We are two, never alone you are going to go," and "We are two, together we are going to live.") In practical life, non-native Spanish speakers who know their ir may be grateful to buy some extra time to think of just the right vocabulary to express themselves. Voy a... voy a... voy a aprender a hablar con más fluidez, you might finally come out and say. The same sentence using the future tense? Aprenderé a hablar con más fluidez.