20 of the Most Common Irregular Spanish Verbs You Should Know

Let’s hear it for the outcasts, the weirdos, the totally, proudly irregular.

Right now, like a lot of Spanish learners, you might not be a fan of irregular verbs.

Yes, they’re harder to learn because they don’t follow standard conjugation patterns. But they’re not always as baffling as they seem.

In this post, we’ll show you some of the secret patterns underlying lots of Spanish irregular verbs, plus tips to master 20 of the most common ones.

Contents

Why Irregular Verbs Aren’t as Hard as They Seem

Irregular verb conjugations might seem totally random and crazy when you start learning them.

However, recognizing that there’s a method to the madness can help you get more comfortable with irregular verbs and learn them more quickly.

Irregular verbs tend to be high-use verbs, so you’ll be encountering them early and often, so you’ll get lots of opportunities to practice using them.

Irregular verbs often sound better and are easier to pronounce than they would be if they were conjugated regularly

Finally, many irregular verbs share rules and patterns, so the more often you see Spanish irregular verbs, the more familiar you’ll become with the patterns of their irregularities.

You can see irregular verbs in use with FluentU, which shows you Spanish as it’s spoken with videos like movie clips, music videos and more.

You can also save flashcards, interact with the subtitles to check definitions and take personalized quizzes that give you ample chances to type, read, hear and even speak your saved verbs until you’ve internalized them.

You can try FluentU in your browser or get the iOS or Android app to study when you’re on the go.

1. Ser – to be 

Ser is particularly irregular in all of the present, past and subjunctive tenses, as well as the imperative, but it does follow the rules for the future, conditional and past participle.

This form of to be is used when something or someone has a quality, possession, price or origin.

SubjectPresentPast
YoSoyFui
EresFuiste
Él/Ella/UstedEsFue
NosotrosSomosFuimos
VosotrosSoisFuisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesSonFueron

¿De donde eres? (Where are you from?)

Fuimos los campeónes. (We were the champions.)

2. Estar – to be 

Estar also has its own unique conjugations, though it’s regular in more tenses than ser (to be).

It’s irregular in the present, past and future subjunctive.

This to be is used for feelings, locations and temporary states.

SubjectPresentPast
YoEstoyEstuve
EstásEstuviste
Él/Ella/UstedEstáEstuvo
NosotrosEstamosEstuvimos
VosotrosEstáisEstuvisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesEstánEstuvieron

El pingüino está molesto. (The penguin is angry.)

¿Dónde está el baño? (Where’s the toilet?)

3. Haber – to be 

Haber is used as an auxiliary verb in the same way that English uses have, for example, he comido (I’ve eaten).

Conjugations of haber you’ll use often include hay (there is/are) and hubo (there were).

SubjectPresentPast
YoHeHube
Has Hubiste
Él/Ella/UstedHaHubo
NosotrosHemosHubimos
VosotrosHabéisHubisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesHanHubieron

Hay un dragón en la colina. (There’s a dragon on the hill.)

Hubo un accidente en la autopista. (There was an accident on the road.)

4. Tener – to have/to have to do something

The present and subjective form of tener is completely irregular, but otherwise its irregularities often just involve an e-to-ie stem change, and tuv– for the past and subjunctive future.

SubjectPresentPast
YoTengoTuve
TienesTuviste
Él/Ella/UstedTieneTuvo
NosotrosTenemosTuvimos
VosotrosTenéisTuvisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesTienenTuvieron

Tengo que irme ya. (I have to go now.)

Maria tiene dolor de cabeza. (Maria has a headache.)

5. Poder – to be able 

Poder follows the same model as many irregular verbs, changing o to ue or to u, though be aware that its future form gets a bit complex.

In all irregular verbs, when these changes to ue occur, nosotros is never affected.

SubjectPresentPast
YoPuedoPude
PuedesPudiste
Él/Ella/UstedPuedePudo
NosotrosPodemosPudimos
VosotrosPodéisPudisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesPuedenPudieron

No puedo nadar. (I can’t swim.)

¿Puedo ayudarle? (Can I help you?)

6. Hacer – to do/to make

Hacer breaks all the rules in all the tenses, except the present tense—apart from yo.

Other verbs that follow exactly the same pattern include deshacer (undo) and satisfacer (satisfy).

SubjectPresentPast
YoHagoHice
HacesHiciste
Él/Ella/UstedHaceHizo
NosotrosHacemosHicimos
VosotrosHacéisHicisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesHacenHicieron

No hago deporte. (I don’t do sports.)

Me haces reir. (You make me laugh.)

7. Ir – to go

Ir is another verb that’s uniquely irregular in all of the tenses.

SubjectPresentPast
YoVoyFui
VasFuiste
Él/Ella/UstedVaFue
NosotrosVamosFuimos
VosotrosVaisFuisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesVanFueron

Voy a Francia. (I’m going to France.)

Ya se fue. (He already left.)

8. Poner – to place/to put

For poner, the stem changes to u in the past tense.

SubjectPresentPast
YoPongoPuse
PonesPusiste
Él/Ella/UstedPonePuso
NosotrosPonemosPusimos
VosotrosPonéisPusisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesPonenPusieron

Puse los libros en los estantes. (I put the books on the shelves.)

Ponte los zapatos. (Put on your shoes.)

9. Decir – to say

Decir is conjugated in the same way as bendecir (to bless) and maldecir (to curse or insult).

SubjectPresentPast
YoDigoDije
DicesDijiste
Él/Ella/UstedDiceDijo
NosotrosDecimosDijimos
VosotrosDecísDijisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesDicenDijieron

Dice que el mundo está malo. (He says the world is bad.)

Se dice que es mejor comer un buen desayuno. (They say it’s better to eat a big breakfast.)

10. Ver – to see/to watch

Ver is another unique verb that doesn’t share the patterns of any other.

SubjectPresentPast
YoVeoVi
VesViste
Él/Ella/UstedVeVio
NosotrosVemosVimos
VosotrosVeisVisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesVenVieron

Te veo el lunes. (I’ll see you on Monday.)

Vio la película el lunes. (She saw the movie on Monday.)

11. Querer – to want/to care about

Querer’s stem changes to i in the past tense. Bienquerer (to be fond of) and malquerer (to dislike) conjugate in the same way.

SubjectPresentPast
YoQuieroQuise
QuieresQuisiste
Él/Ella/UstedQuiereQuiso
NosotrosQueremosQuisimos
VosotrosQueréisQuisisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesQuierenQuisieron

Quiero irme ya. (I want to go now.)

Te quiero mucho. (I care about you a lot.)

12. Saber – to know/to taste

Like many irregular verbs, saber is irregular in the first person present tense and its stem in the past tense consistently changes to u.

SubjectPresentPast
YoSupe
SabesSupiste
Él/Ella/UstedSabeSupo
NosotrosSabemosSupimos
VosotrosSabéisSupisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesSabenSupieron

Él sabe todas las respuestas. (He knows all the answers.)

Sabe muy bien. (It tastes very good.)

13. Llegar – to arrive

The main way llegar is irregular is that its e changes to ue in the present subjunctive. Otherwise, it’s mostly regular.

SubjectPresentPast
YoLlegoLlegué
LlegasLlegaste
Él/Ella/UstedLlegaLlegó
NosotrosLlegamosLllegamos
VosotrosLlegáisLlegasteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesLleganLlegaron

Llego a Caracas el jueves. (I arrive in Caracas on Thursday.)

Nunca llegó. (He never arrived.)

14. Creer – to think/to believe

Creer shares its conjugation pattern with a number of verbs, including desposeer (to dispossess), desproveer (to deprive), poseer (to own), proveer (to provide) and sobreseer (to discontinue).

Its present tense is regular.

SubjectPresentPast
YoCreoCreí
CreesCreíste
Él/Ella/UstedCreeCreyó
NosotrosCreemosCreímos
VosotrosCreéisCreísteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesCreenCreyeron

No te creo. (I don’t believe you.)

No todo el mundo cree en Dios. (Not everyone believes in God.)

15. Encontrar – to find/to meet

Encontrar is another o → ue verb.

SubjectPresentPast
YoEncuentroEncontré
EncuentrasEncontraste
Él/Ella/UstedEncuentraEncontró
NosotrosEncuentramosEncontramos
VosotrosEncuentráisEncontrasteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesEncuentranEncontraron

Encontraron el cuerpo en el pecio. (They found the body in the wreckage of the ship.)

Me encontré a tu amigo en la calle. (I bumped into your friend in the street.)

16. Venir – to come

Venir conjugates in a similar way as tener (to have), with the first person present tense changing to a g, vengo.

SubjectPresentPast
YoVengoVine
VienesViniste
Él/Ella/UstedVieneVino
NosotrosVenimosVinimos
VosotrosVenísVinisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesVienenVinieron

La profe vino tarde. (The teacher came late.)

Vengo de lejos. (I come from far away.)

17. Pensar – to think

Pensar has an e → ie verb change in the present simple and present subjunctive.

A lot of verbs follow this pattern, such as alentar (to encourage), apretar (to squeeze), calentar (to heat), cerrar (to close) and confesar (to confess).

Notice they’re all -ar verbs with an e in the second to last syllable.

SubjectPresentPast
YoPiensoPensé
PiensasPensaste
Él/Ella/UstedPiensaPensó
NosotrosPensamosPensamos
VosotrosPensáisPensasteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesPiensanPensaron

Pienso mucho en la noche. (I think a lot at night.)

No piensa salir con ella. (He doesn’t plan to go out with her.)

18. Conocer – to get to know

Conocer shares its conjugation pattern with abastecer (to supply), atardecer (to get dark), apetecer (to feel like), aparecer (to appear), desobedecer (to disobey), parecer (to seem like) and reconocer (to recognize).

It’s almost entirely regular in the present and past tense, becoming irregular in the present subjunctive.

SubjectPresentPast
YoConozcoConocí
ConocesConociste
Él/Ella/UstedConoceConoció
NosotrosConocemosConocimos
VosotrosConocéisConocisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesConocenConocieron

Conozco a Pablo desde hace tiempo. (I’ve known Pablo for a while.)

El plomero conoce bien su oficio. (The plumber knows his job well.)

19. Sentir – to feel/to feel sorry

Sentir shares its conjugation with a lot of ir verbs with an e in the second to last syllable, such as advertir (to warn), invertir (to invest), mentir (to lie), preferir (to prefer), hervir (to boil) and herir (to injure).

SubjectPresentPast
YoSientoSentí
SientesSentiste
Él/Ella/UstedSienteSentió
NosotrosSentimosSentimos
VosotrosSentísSentisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesSientenSentieron

Siento mucho la muerte de tu abuela. (I’m really sorry about your grandmother’s death.)

Siente calor. (He feels the heat.)

20. Volver – to return/to do again

Volver is an o → ue verb that shares its conjugation pattern with a range of similar verbs such as llover (to rain), morder (to bite), resolver (to resolve), absolver (to absolve/to pardon) and disolver (to dissolve).

SubjectPresentPast
YoVuelvoVolví
VuelvesVolviste
Él/Ella/UstedVuelveVolvió
NosotrosVolvemosVolvimos
VosotrosVolvéisVolvisteis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesVuelvenVolvieron

Vuelvo a casa despues del trabajo. (I come home after work.)

Volvieron a hacerlo porque hubo errores. (They did it again because there were mistakes.)

 

Once you have these 20 irregular verbs down, you have the basics of Spanish communication in the bag.

Remember that you actually have to use them daily if you want to learn them, whether it be through speaking or writing in Spanish.

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