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Present Tense in Spanish

El tiempo presente

After seeing some verbs that represent the backbone of the Spanish language, let’s see what happens to the multitude of ordinary ones that allow us to describe actions we perform daily.

As it happens in English, the tense in question is the present. In Spanish, however, verbs are divided into three groups, each one of which presents different sets of endings when it comes to conjugating them.

What distinguishes the three verb groups is the termination that can be observed in their infinitive form, as shown below:

comprar  (to buy) beber  (to drink) vivir (to live)
compr-ar  beb-er viv-ir

 

To conjugate Spanish verbs, the infinitive terminations drop and the present tense endings are added to the verbal stems:

-AR -ER
comprar beber
YO compr-o (I buy) beb-o (I drink)
compr-as (you buy) beb-es (you drink)
ÉL/ELLA compr-a (he/she buy) beb-e (he/she drink)
NOSOTROS/AS compr-amos (we buy) beb-emos (we drink)
VOSOTROS/AS compr-áis (you all buy) beb-éis (you all drink)
ELLOS/ELLAS compr-an (they buy) beb-en (they drink)

 

-IR
vivir
YO viv-o (I live)
viv-es (you live)
ÉL/ELLA viv-e (he/she live)
NOSOTROS/AS viv-imos (we live)
VOSOTROS/AS viv-ís (you all live)
ELLOS/ELLAS viv-en (they live)

 

As the table above shows, the vowel -a recurs throughout the present tense conjugation of -ar verbs, whereas the -e characterises the present tense forms of both -er and -ir verbs. In fact, the latter verb groups share a very similar present tense conjugation except for the first and second plural forms, where the endings for -ir verbs adopt an -i.

Finally, since each form has a different ending, the use of personal subject pronoun is not necessary when the subject is explicit or has already being mentioned.

 

Let’s look at some examples.

Siempre abro las ventanas de mi cuarto por la mañana. → I always open the windows of my bedroom in the morning.

Corres el en parque todos los domingos. → You run in park every Sunday.

Pilar cuenta sus aventuras. → Pilar recounts her adventures.

Juan y yo leemos los libros de Harry Potter antes de acostarnos. → Juan and I read the Harry Potter books before going to bed.

¿Por qué subís las escaleras tan rápido? → Why do you go up the stairs so quickly?

Las chicas bailan en la disco. → They girls dance in the disco.


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