important-spanish-verbs

40 Highly Important Spanish Verbs You’ll Hear Used All the Time

Playing charades to communicate gets really old, really fast.

Acting out some words can be difficult and, in some circumstances, even awkward.

I know, it isn’t easy.

Learning verbs in Spanish is something that doesn’t always come naturally for new learners. With the seemingly endless conjugations and irregularities, verbs can be one of the most difficult and lengthy lessons in the language for a non-native speaker.

But you have to learn them sooner or later, and the more you use them, the more efficiently you’ll learn!

Here are 40 of the most important verbs to get you speaking Spanish sooner rather than later.

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A Quick Spanish Verb Refresher

Before we dive into our list, here’s a short little introduction—or perhaps refresher, depending on your current skill level—to conjugating verbs in the Spanish language.

It’s a simplified look at the system for conjugating regular verbs in the present tense.

The first step is to look at whether the verb ends in -ar, -er or –ir. While they won’t be too different, the conjugations aren’t exactly the same for each ending. Luckily, -er and -ir verbs share almost the same conjugations, so there are really only two categories of verb endings to worry about.

If the verb ends in -ar, the following endings will be added to what remains of the verb after the -ar ending is dropped.

yo ____o

tú ____as 

usted / él / ella ____a

nosotros / nosotras ____amos

vosotros / vosotras ____áis 

ustedes / ellos / ellas ____an

If the verb ends in er or -ir, the following endings will be added to what remains of the verb after the -er or -ir ending is dropped.

yo ____o

tú ____es 

usted / él / ella ____e

nosotros / nosotras ____emos/imos

vosotros / vosotras ____éis/ís

ustedes / ellos / ellas ____en

As you can see, the only differences between -eand -ir endings are in the nosotros/as and vosotros/as forms. In these forms, the -er ending uses the letter while the -ir ending uses the letter i. 

For nosotros/as, if the verb ends in -er it will become emos, and if the verb ends in ir it will become –imos

For vosotros/as, if the verb ends in -er it will become éis, and if the verb ends in ir it will become ís.

Easy enough to remember! Plus, unless you’re going to Spain, there’s a good chance you’ll never need the vosotros/as form.

If it sounds complicated for some reason, don’t sweat it. There will be many examples along the way down our list. Luckily, Spanish syntax is very similar to English syntax, so once you learn these verbs it will be easy to start forming complete sentences with them.

To really cement verb formations and usages in your mind, you can access real-life examples of Spanish speech on FluentU.

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. 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.

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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 it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store for iOS and Android devices.

40 Most Important Spanish Verbs to Boost Your Conversation Skills

Regular -ar Verbs

1. necesitar 

Meaning: To need

Conjugation:

yo necesito

tú necesitas 

usted / él / ella necesita

nosotros / nosotras necesitamos

vosotros / vosotras necesitáis 

ustedes/ ellos / ellas necesitan

As you might expect, the rest of the verbs in this section follow the exact same pattern.

2. usar

Meaning: To use

3. ayudar

Meaning: To help

4. regresar

Meaning: To return

5. buscar

Meaning: To search for; to look for

6. quedar

Meaning: To stay

7. esperar

Meaning: To wait; to hope

8. lavar

Meaning: To wash

9. cocinar

Meaning: To cook

10. limpiar

Meaning: To clean

11. llegar

Meaning: To arrive

12. amar

Meaning: To love

13. hablar

Meaning: To speak

14. andar

Meaning: To walk

15. tomar

Meaning: To take

16. trabajar

Meaning: To work

Regular -er and -ir Verbs

Take a sigh of relief. Verbs that end in both -er and -ir have almost identical endings.

17. leer

Meaning: To read

Conjugation:

yo leo

tú lees

usted / él / ella lee

nosotros / nosotras leemos

vosotros / vosotras leéis

ustedes/ ellos /ellas leen

18. comer

Meaning: To eat

19. beber

Meaning: To drink

20. vivir

Meaning: To live

Conjugation:

yo vivo

tú vives

usted / él / ella vive

nosotros / nosotras vivimos

vosotros / vosotras vivís

ustedes/ ellos /ellas viven

21. escribir

Meaning: To write

Irregular Verbs

The following verbs on the list are all considered irregular, meaning that they don’t follow the typical conjugation patterns and require some extra memorization. While some are almost unrecognizable after they’re conjugated, some of them just require very slight changes.

Luckily, a few of them have similar irregularities and can be grouped for mnemonic ease.

22. saber

Meaning: To know

Conjugation:

This verb is almost regular except for in the first-person, in which it decided to do its own thing entirely.

yo sé

tú sabes

usted / él / ella sabe

nosotros / nosotras sabemos

vosotros / vosotras sabéis

ustedes/ ellos /ellas saben

23. dormir

Meaning: To sleep

For dormir and the next two verbs on the list, after the stem is changed the rest remains pretty consistent.

The o/u in the stems of the following verbs must change to ue for most—but not all—of the subjects in the present tense.

yo duermo 

tú duermes

usted / él / ella duerme

nosotros / nosotras dormimos

vosotros / vosotras dormís

ustedes/ ellos / ellas duermen 

24. morir

Meaning: To die

Look out for the to ue stem change when conjugating this verb. Morir also ends in an -ir, so it follows the same conjugation as dormir.

25. mover

Meaning: To move

Morir and mover have the same stem change, but don’t forget to use conjugations for -er verbs when working with this verb.

26. jugar

Meaning: To play

In this and the next verb, you’ll need to continue using your to ue stem change. However, they both end in -ar, so the endings must reflect that when you’re conjugating them.

yo juego

tú juegas

usted / él / ella juega

nosotros / nosotras jugamos

vosotros / vosotras jugáis 

ustedes/ ellos / ellas juegan

27. encontrar

Meaning: To find

28. empezar

Meaning: To begin

This and the next two verbs only require the addition of an i in the stem for certain conjugations. This is an e to ie stem change.

They say beginning something new is always the hardest part, so of course this verb isn’t going to make things totally easy.

yo empiezo

tú empiezas

usted / él / ella empieza

nosotros / nosotras empezamos

vosotros / vosotras empezáis 

ustedes/ ellos / ellas empiezan

29. entender

Meaning: To understand

I’ll run you through the conjugations on this one too, but it’s pretty simple. Just do the e to ie stem change and conjugate as you would any -er verb.

yo entiendo

tú entiendes

usted / él / ella entiende

nosotros / nosotras entendemos

vosotros / vosotras entendéis

ustedes/ ellos / ellas entienden 

30. querer

Meaning: To want

This verb has the exact same patterns as the previous one. There’s that to ie stem change, and after that it’s conjugated as any -er verb.

You may have noticed a regularity in all of these irregular, stem-changing verbs. Most often, two of the conjugations will stay regular. Can you see which ones they are?

Yup, the nosotros/as and vosotros/as forms are usually the ones that don’t undergo the stem change.

31. conocer

Meaning: To know

While the word saber is also defined as “to know,” these two verbs aren’t used interchangeably. Conocer is often used to refer to recognizing or knowing more personal things, while saber is used in cases of things considered be more universally known.

This and the next two verbs are irregular in some conjugations because they have a -c at the end of their stems. In the present tense, they’re only irregular in the first-person.

Similar to English, the Spanish letter c can make two distinct sounds depending on which letter follows it. So, the following words have to change depending on which letter follows the c.

In the first-person conjugation of conocer, the letter o is added after the ending is dropped. This is an impossible ending sound in Spanish, so a z is added before the c to make it sound more uniform with all of the verb’s other conjugations.

yo conozco

tú conoces

usted / él / ella conoce

nosotros / nosotras conocemos

vosotros / vosotras conocéis

ustedes/ ellos / ellas conocen

The following two verbs end in a c after the endings are dropped and end in -ir, so they’re conjugated in exactly the same fashion.

32. conducir

Meaning: To drive

33. traducir

Meaning: To translate

34. salir

Meaning: To go out; to leave

Except for in the first-person singular, this verb keeps it pretty regular in the present tense. In the first-person singular, the slightly irregular salgo is used. But in some other tenses you’ll eventually learn, it can get pretty crazy.

In the present tense, the rest of the conjugations are totally normal -ir verb conjugations.

The next two verbs are somewhat similar. In the first-person, present tense conjugation of the next two verbs, a g must likewise be added after the ending is dropped.

35. traer

Meaning: To bring

Like salir, this one is only irregular in the first-person, in which traigo is used.

36. hacer

Meaning: To do or to make

See this isn’t so scary. Same for hacer. It’s regular aside from hago being used in the first-person.

37. tener

Meaning: To have

This verb can be a basket case, but it’s so frequently used that you’ll learn it in no time. Here’s how it’s conjugated in the present tense.

yo tengo

tú tienes

usted / él / ella tiene

nosotros / nosotras tenemos

vosotros / vosotras tenéis

ustedes/ ellos /ellas tienen

38. ser

Meaning: To be

If you’ve been studying Spanish, you’re likely already familiar with the verb ser. It means “to be,” and is probably the verb you’ll use most often.

The conjugations of ser don’t really follow a pattern—like quite a few Spanish verbs—and must be memorized.

yo soy

tú eres

usted / él / ella es

nosotros / nosotras somos

vosotros / vosotras sois

ustedes/ ellos /ellas son

39. estar

Meaning: To be

While this verb also has the definition of “to be,” it’s not exactly interchangeable with ser, but luckily its conjugations have similar irregularities to make them easier to remember.

The two verbs are commonly misused between non-native Spanish speakers, and there are a few special rules to help distinguish between them.

In a nutshell, estar is used for transient circumstances and ser is used in more static cases.

Its conjugation is almost the same except that it has an -ar ending and another thing to note is the addition of the accent marks.

yo estoy

tú estás

usted / él / ella está

nosotros / nosotras estamos

vosotros / vosotras estáis 

ustedes/ ellos /ellas están

40. dar

Meaning: To give

This verb follows a somewhat similar pattern to ser.

yo doy

tú das

usted / él / ella da

nosotros / nosotras damos

vosotros / vosotras dais

ustedes/ ellos /ellas dan

 

Whew, that was a lot of information!

But we have 40 new words! They’re 40 of the most essential action words to get you on the fast track to doing and communicating things in Spanish.

Keep studying and ¡buena suerte! 

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