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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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
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.
Meaning: To use
¿Con qué frecuencia usas la aplicación FluentU? (How often do you use the FluentU app?)
Meaning: To help
Él ayuda a su hermana con la tarea. (He helps his sister with homework.)
Meaning: To return
Nosotros regresamos a la escena del crimen. (We return to the scene of the crime.)
Meaning: To search for; to look for
¿Vosotras buscáis recetas en línea? (Do you look for recipes online?)
Meaning: To remain; to be left with
¿Quedan algunas galletas? (Are there any cookies left?)
Meaning: To wait; to hope
Yo espero tu regreso. (I wait for your return.)
Meaning: To wash
¿Cuándo te lavas el cabello? (When do you wash your hair?)
Meaning: To cook
Su papá cocina la mayoría de las comidas. (His dad cooks most of the meals.)
Meaning: To clean
Mi esposo y yo limpiamos la casa todos los domingos. (My husband and I clean the house every Sunday.)
Meaning: To arrive
¿Llegáis a tiempo al trabajo? (Do you get to work on time?)
Meaning: To love
Tus hijos te aman mucho. (Your kids love you very much.)
Meaning: To speak
Hablo inglés, mandarín y español. (I speak English, Mandarin and Spanish.)
Meaning: To walk
¡Andas tan lenta! (You walk so slow!)
Meaning: To take
El hombre toma el dinero y desaparece. (The man takes the money and disappears.)
Meaning: To work
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.
Meaning: To read
usted / él / ella lee
nosotros / nosotras leemos
vosotros / vosotras leéis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas leen
¿Vosotros leéis en voz alta? (Do you read aloud?)
Meaning: To eat
Los españoles comen a altas horas de la noche. (The Spanish eat late at night.)
Meaning: To drink
Solo bebo vino blanco. (I only drink white wine.)
Meaning: To live
usted / él / ella vive
nosotros / nosotras vivimos
vosotros / vosotras vivís
ustedes/ ellos /ellas viven
¿Vives en la ciudad? (Do you live in the city?)
Meaning: To write
Joanna escribe cartas a sus abuelos. (Joanna writes letters to her grandparents.)
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
Mis amigas y yo no sabemos nadar. (My friends and I don’t know how to swim.)
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
¿A qué hora dormís por la noche? (What time do you sleep at night?)
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.
Las plantas mueren sin luz solar ni agua. (Plants die without sunlight or water.)
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.
Yo me muevo al ritmo. (I move to the beat.)
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
¿Qué videojuegos juegas? (What videogames do you play?)
Meaning: To find
Mi madre encuentra objetos extraños debajo de su sofá. (My mother finds strange objects under the couch.)
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
Empezamos nuestra lección en unos minutos. (We start our lesson in a few minutes.)
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
¿Entendéis la pregunta? (Do you understand the question?)
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.
Sus hijas quieren otra mascota. (Their daughters want another pet.)
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.
usted / él / ella conoce
nosotros / nosotras conocemos
vosotros / vosotras conocéis
ustedes/ ellos / ellas conocen
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.
Meaning: To drive
¿De qué lado de la carretera conduces? (Which side of the road do you drive on?)
Meaning: To translate
Roberto traduce del inglés al español para sus padres. (Roberto translates from English to Spanish for his parents.)
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.
Nosotros salimos temprano de las fiestas. (We leave parties early.)
Meaning: To bring
Like salir, this one is only irregular in the first-person, in which traigo is used.
¿Qué traéis a una comida compartida? (What do you bring to a potluck?)
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.
Los empresarios de éxito hacen sus camas todas las mañanas. (Successful entrepreneurs make their bed every morning.)
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.
usted / él / ella tiene
nosotros / nosotras tenemos
vosotros / vosotras tenéis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas tienen
Apenas tengo tiempo para el gimnasio. (I hardly have time for the gym.)
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
¿Eres de Alemania? (Are you from Germany?)
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.
usted / él / ella está
nosotros / nosotras estamos
vosotros / vosotras estáis
ustedes/ ellos /ellas están
María está enojada con su novio. (Maria is angry with her boyfriend.)
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
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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