Playing charades to communicate gets really old, really fast.
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.
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.
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.
usted / él / ella ____e
nosotros / nosotras ____emos/imos
vosotros / vosotras ____éis/ís
ustedes / ellos / ellas ____en
As you can see, the only differences between -er and -ir endings are in the nosotros/as and vosotros/as forms. In these forms, the -er ending uses the letter e 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:
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.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
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.
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
Meaning: To need
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.
Meaning: To use
Meaning: To help
Meaning: To return
Meaning: To search for; to look for
Meaning: To stay
Meaning: To wait; to hope
Meaning: To wash
Meaning: To cook
Meaning: To clean
Meaning: To arrive
Meaning: To love
Meaning: To speak
Meaning: To walk
Meaning: To take
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.
Meaning: To read
usted / él / ella lee
nosotros / nosotras leemos
vosotros / vosotras leéis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas leen
Meaning: To eat
Meaning: To drink
Meaning: To live
usted / él / ella vive
nosotros / nosotras vivimos
vosotros / vosotras vivís
ustedes/ ellos /ellas viven
Meaning: To write
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.
Meaning: To know
This verb is almost regular except for in the first-person, in which it decided to do its own thing entirely.
usted / él / ella sabe
nosotros / nosotras sabemos
vosotros / vosotras sabéis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas saben
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.
usted / él / ella duerme
nosotros / nosotras dormimos
vosotros / vosotras dormís
ustedes/ ellos / ellas duermen
Meaning: To die
Look out for the o to ue stem change when conjugating this verb. Morir also ends in an -ir, so it follows the same conjugation as dormir.
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.
Meaning: To play
In this and the next verb, you’ll need to continue using your u to ue stem change. However, they both end in -ar, so the endings must reflect that when you’re conjugating them.
usted / él / ella juega
nosotros / nosotras jugamos
vosotros / vosotras jugáis
ustedes/ ellos / ellas juegan
Meaning: To find
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.
usted / él / ella empieza
nosotros / nosotras empezamos
vosotros / vosotras empezáis
ustedes/ ellos / ellas empiezan
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.
usted / él / ella entiende
nosotros / nosotras entendemos
vosotros / vosotras entendéis
ustedes/ ellos / ellas entienden
Meaning: To want
This verb has the exact same patterns as the previous one. There’s that e 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.
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.
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.
Meaning: To drive
Meaning: To translate
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.
Meaning: To bring
Like salir, this one is only irregular in the first-person, in which traigo is used.
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.
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.
usted / él / ella tiene
nosotros / nosotras tenemos
vosotros / vosotras tenéis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas tienen
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.
usted / él / ella es
nosotros / nosotras somos
vosotros / vosotras sois
ustedes/ ellos /ellas son
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.
usted / él / ella está
nosotros / nosotras estamos
vosotros / vosotras estáis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas están
Meaning: To give
This verb follows a somewhat similar pattern to ser.
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!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.