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.

A Quick Spanish Verb Refresher

Before we dive into our list, here’s a short little introduction—or perhaps a Spanish 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 -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.

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FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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, 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.

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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 gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve 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.

40 Most Important Spanish Verbs to Boost Your Conversation Skills

Regular -ar Verbs

1. necesitar 

important spanish verbs

Meaning: To need

Conjugation:

yo necesito

tú necesitas 

usted / él / ella necesita

nosotros / nosotras necesitamos

vosotros / vosotras necesitáis 

ustedes/ ellos / ellas necesitan

Example:

Yo necesito un corte de pelo.  (I need a haircut.)

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

2. usar

Meaning: To use

Example:

¿Con qué frecuencia usas la aplicación FluentU? (How often do you use the FluentU app?)

3. ayudar

Meaning: To help

Example:

Él ayuda a su hermana con la tarea. (He helps his sister with homework.)

4. regresar

Meaning: To return

Example:

Nosotros regresamos a la escena del crimen. (We return to the scene of the crime.)

5. buscar

Meaning: To search for; to look for

Example:

¿Vosotras buscáis recetas en línea? (Do you look for recipes online?)

6. quedar

Meaning: To remain; to be left with

Example:

¿Quedan algunas galletas? (Are there any cookies left?)

7. esperar

Meaning: To wait; to hope

Example:

Yo espero tu regreso. (I wait for your return.)

8. lavar

Meaning: To wash

Example:

¿Cuándo te lavas el cabello? (When do you wash your hair?)

9. cocinar

Meaning: To cook

Example:

Su papá cocina la mayoría de las comidas. (His dad cooks most of the meals.)

10. limpiar

Meaning: To clean

Example:

Mi esposo y yo limpiamos la casa todos los domingos. (My husband and I clean the house every Sunday.)

11. llegar

Meaning: To arrive

Example:

¿Llegáis a tiempo al trabajo? (Do you get to work on time?)

12. amar

Meaning: To love

Example:

Tus hijos te aman mucho. (Your kids love you very much.)

13. hablar

Meaning: To speak

Example:

Hablo inglés, mandarín y español. (I speak English, Mandarin and Spanish.)

14. andar

Meaning: To walk

Example:

¡Andas tan lenta! (You walk so slow!)

15. tomar

Meaning: To take

Example:

El hombre toma el dinero y desaparece. (The man takes the money and disappears.)

16. trabajar

Meaning: To work

Example:

Nosotros trabajamos cinco días a la semana. (We work five days a week.)

Regular -er and -ir Verbs

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

17. leer

important spanish verbs

Meaning: To read

Conjugation:

yo leo

tú lees

usted / él / ella lee

nosotros / nosotras leemos

vosotros / vosotras leéis

ustedes/ ellos /ellas leen

Example:

¿Vosotros leéis en voz alta? (Do you read aloud?)

18. comer

Meaning: To eat

Example:

Los españoles comen a altas horas de la noche. (The Spanish eat late at night.)

19. beber

Meaning: To drink

Example:

Solo bebo vino blanco. (I only drink white wine.)

20. vivir

Meaning: To live

Conjugation:

yo vivo

tú vives

usted / él / ella vive

nosotros / nosotras vivimos

vosotros / vosotras vivís

ustedes/ ellos /ellas viven

Example:

¿Vives en la ciudad? (Do you live in the city?)

21. escribir

Meaning: To write

Example:

Joanna escribe cartas a sus abuelos. (Joanna writes letters to her grandparents.)

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

Example:

Mis amigas y yo no sabemos nadar. (My friends and I don’t know how to swim.)

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 

Example:

¿A qué hora dormís por la noche? (What time do you sleep at night?)

24. morir

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.

Example:

Las plantas mueren sin luz solar ni agua. (Plants die without sunlight or water.)

25. mover

important spanish verbs

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.

Example:

Yo me muevo al ritmo. (I move to the beat.)

26. jugar

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.

yo juego

tú juegas

usted / él / ella juega

nosotros / nosotras jugamos

vosotros / vosotras jugáis 

ustedes/ ellos / ellas juegan

Example:

¿Qué videojuegos juegas? (What videogames do you play?)

27. encontrar

Meaning: To find

Example:

Mi madre encuentra objetos extraños debajo de su sofá. (My mother finds strange objects under the couch.)

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

Example:

Empezamos nuestra lección en unos minutos. (We start our lesson in a few minutes.)

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 

Example:

¿Entendéis la pregunta? (Do you understand the question?)

30. querer

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.

Example:

Sus hijas quieren otra mascota. (Their daughters want another pet.)

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 to 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

Example:

Yo no conozco malas palabras en español. (I don’t know any swear words in Spanish.)

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

Example:

¿De qué lado de la carretera conduces? (Which side of the road do you drive on?)

33. traducir

important spanish verbs

Meaning: To translate

Example:

Roberto traduce del inglés al español para sus padres. (Roberto translates from English to Spanish for his parents.)

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.

Example:

Nosotros salimos temprano de las fiestas. (We leave parties early.)

35. traer

Meaning: To bring

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

Example:

¿Qué traéis a una comida compartida? (What do you bring to a potluck?)

36.

tener

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.

Example:

Los empresarios de éxito hacen sus camas todas las mañanas. (Successful entrepreneurs make their bed every morning.)

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 tener is conjugated in the present tense.

yo tengo

tú tienes

usted / él / ella tiene

nosotros / nosotras tenemos

vosotros / vosotras tenéis

ustedes/ ellos /ellas tienen

Example:

Apenas tengo tiempo para el gimnasio. (I hardly have time for the gym.)

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

Example:

¿Eres de Alemania? (Are you from Germany?)

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 by 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. 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

Example:

María está enojada con su novio. (Maria is angry with her boyfriend.)

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

Example:

Damos a nuestros gatos mucho amor y atención. (We give our cats a lot of love and attention.)

 

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! (good luck!)

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