essential spanish verbs

The 50 Essential Spanish Verbs You Simply Must Know

To learn. To laugh. To live. To love.

Most of the things that make life worthwhile depend on actions.

And you can’t do (or discuss) any actions without one simple thing: verbs.

For any sentence to be complete, it needs one. These little action words are essential to language.

As you learn Spanish, you’ll learn a lot of verbs over time. Some you’ll use much more often than others. These 50 Spanish verbs are essential for every Spanish speaker to know in and out.

Here, we’ll list them in their infinitive forms. This is the “to” form of a verb. For example, the infinitive form of “makes” is “to make.” In Spanish, the infinitive form is when verbs end in -ar, -er and -ir.

It’s usually considered the most basic, purest form of the verb. When you’re learning new Spanish vocabulary in any context, verbs will most often be listed in their infinitive forms. Consider the infinitive the raw ingredient that you use to make more complex recipes (or in this case, more complex verb forms).

As you move forward you’ll learn present tense and preterite and imperfect tenses as well to get the recipe just right. To really polish your verbs, you might also need to try some unconventional approaches.

Why you need to know these essential verbs

Remember how we said infinitive verbs are like the raw ingredients you use to make more complex recipes? Well, without that ingredient, you would not be able to make the recipe at all.

Sure, you can flail around, trying to find a way around the missing ingredient, but your dish (and your language skills) will tend to fall flat.

Go ahead: Try communicating an idea clearly (either in English or Spanish) with no verbs at all. It isn’t easy, is it? In any language, skipping the verbs will make you sound (and feel) like a toddler minus the adorable chubby cheeks.

Spend just a few minutes in a Spanish-speaking country, and you’ll hear most (if not all) of these 50 essential Spanish verbs. Learning them now will help prevent a lot of misunderstanding and confusion down the road.

How to practice your Spanish verbs

  • Have conversations. Simply having a conversation in Spanish is an excellent way to practice your verbs. After all, each sentence you utter will use at least one verb—sometimes several. In just one conversation, you’ll probably find yourself using many of the essential verbs listed below. This will help reinforce your understanding of them. Additionally, since you won’t always use the infinitive form of the verb, you’ll have to conjugate which brings us to our next point…
  • Conjugate, conjugate, conjugate. In normal conversations you’ll be conjugating all the time, so it helps to practice outside of conversation as well. Not only will this help ensure you have a strong functional knowledge of the word, it will also help reinforce the word’s meaning. You can practice conjugating by having a conversation, making tables of conjugations or you could just…
  • Play games. Games are certainly the most fun way to learn verbs—from fun timed quizzes on Sporcle to conjugation quizzes for all sorts of verb tenses on Conjuguemos, Digital Dialects and Learn Spanish Today. You could even go onto FluentU and start watching authentic videos clips from the real, live Spanish-speaking world.

FluentU takes real-world videos, like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks, and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:

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FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.

Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

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Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

essential-spanish-verbs

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

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The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and recommends examples and videos for you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the iOS or Android FluentU app.

50 Essential Spanish Verbs

Learn a foreign language with videos

Being

1. Ser

Meaning: To be

Used to describe essential characteristics, such as physical descriptions.

La fresa es roja. (The strawberry is red.)

2. Estar

Meaning: To be

Used to describe places, conditions or feelings. See a full explanation of the usage of ser and estar here.

Estoy cansada. (I am tired.)

3. Deber 

Meaning: To have to

This is similar to “should” or “must.”

Debo hacer mi tarea. (I should do my homework.)

4. Poder

Meaning: To be able to

Puedo ir a la fiesta. (I am able to go to the party.)

5. Haber 

Meaning: To be, have

When haber can be translated as “to be,” it’s being used to describe if an object exists or if it’s actually present. When it can be translated more as “have,” it’s generally being used in combination with other verbs to describe things that have or haven’t happened.

You’ll notice from the examples below that the conjugation of haber can be a bit weird. Its conjugations are irregular, so you’ll need to pay special attention to this one.

He trabajado en la biblioteca. (I have worked in the library.)

Hay tres libros en la mesa. (There are three books on the table.)

6. Necesitar 

Meaning: To need

Necesito descansar. (I need to rest.)

Feeling

7. Gustar 

Meaning: To like, to please

Me gusta dormir. (I like to sleep.)

8. Esperar 

Meaning: To hope, to expect, to wait

Espero que sea verdad. (I hope it is true.)

9. Creer

Meaning: To believe

Creo que la escuela es importante. (I believe school is important.)

10. Sentirse 

Meaning: To feel

Me siento triste. (I feel sad.)

11. Querer 

Meaning: To love, to want

Quiero comer. (I want to eat.)

Yo te quiero mucho. (I love you a lot.)

Thinking

12. Pensar 

Meaning: To think

Pienso que debemos ir. (I think we should go.)

13. Saber 

Meaning: To know

This is used when talking about knowledge of facts or skills.

¿Sabes la respuesta? (Do you know the answer?)

14. Conocer 

Meaning: To know, to meet

This one is used with people, places and things—not with solid facts, knowledge or skills.

¿Conoces a la profesora? (Have you met the professor? / Do you know the professor?)

15. Comprender 

Meaning: To comprehend, to understand

No comprendo la tarea. (I don’t understand the homework.)

16. Decidir 

Meaning: To decide.

Tienes que decidir qué quieres. (You have to decide what you want.)

Sensing

17. Ver 

Meaning: To see, to watch

Voy a ver la televisión. (I’m going to watch the television.)

18. Mirar 

Meaning: To look

Mira, ¡qué linda! (Look, how pretty!)

19. Oír 

Meaning: To hear

Oigo la música. (I hear the music.)

20. Escuchar 

Meaning: To listen

Escucho música. (I listen to music.)

Going

21. Ir 

Meaning: To go

Voy a mi casa. (I go to my house.)

22. Salir 

Meaning: To leave

Salgo de mi casa. (I leave my house.)

23. Volver 

Meaning: To return

Vuelvo a mi casa. (I return to my house.)

24. Venir 

Meaning: To arrive, to come

Vengo a mi casa. (I arrive at my house.)

Doing

25. Tener 

Meaning: To have

Tengo la tarea. (I have the homework.)

26. Hacer 

Meaning: To do, to make

Haz tu tarea. (Do your homework.)

27. Comer 

Meaning: To eat

Me gusta comer fresas. (I like to eat strawberries.)

28. Dar 

Meaning: To give

Dame la tarea. (Give me the homework.)

29. Recibir 

Meaning: To receive

Recibo la tarea. (I receive the homework.)

30. Dormir 

Meaning: To sleep

Duermo bien. (I sleep well.)

31. Descansar 

Meaning: To rest

En la tarde, necesito descansar. (In the afternoon, I need to rest.)

32. Comprar 

Meaning: To buy

Necesito comprar la comida. (I need to buy the food.)

33. Pagar 

Meaning: To pay

Tengo que pagar la cuenta. (I have to pay the check.)

34. Tomar

Meaning: To take, to drink, to consume

Tomo agua. (I drink/take/consume water.)

35. Vivir 

Meaning: To live

Vivo en la ciudad. (I live in the city.)

36. Aprender 

Meaning: To learn

Aprendes los verbos. (You learn the verbs.)

37. Escribir 

Meaning: To write

Escribo un ensayo. (I write an essay.)

38. Leer 

Meaning: To read

Leo un libro. (I read a book.)

39. Estudiar

Meaning: To study

¿Estudias español? (Do you study Spanish?)

40. Trabajar 

Meaning: To work

Trabajo muchas horas. (I work many hours.)

41. Cambiar 

Meaning: To change

Quiero cambiar mi vida. (I want to change my life.)

42. Ganar 

Meaning: To earn, to win

Ellos ganan el juego. (They win the game.)

43. Preguntar 

Meaning: To ask

Quiero preguntar algo. (I want to ask something.)

44. Ayudar 

Meaning: To help

¿Puedes ayudarme(Can you help me?)

45. Viajar 

Meaning: To travel

Me gusta viajar a España. (I like to travel to Spain.)

46. Usar 

Meaning: To use

Uso la computadora para escribir. (I use the computer to write.)

47. Poner 

Meaning: To put

Pones la tarea en el escritorio (You put the homework on the desk)

Talking

48. Decir 

Meaning: To say

Mi profesora dice que tenemos tarea. (My professor says that we have homework.)

49. Hablar 

Meaning: To talk

Quiero hablar con mi madre. (I want to talk with my mother.)

50. Llamar 

Meaning: To call

Llama a tu madre. (Call your mother.)

These 50 essential verbs are the main ingredients for using Spanish effectively.

With these in your back pocket, you’ll be able to understand and participate in virtually any conversation—at least on some level!

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