Spanish ER Verbs: 20 Regular, Irregular and Stem-changing Verbs (Conjugations Included)
I bet you want to scream every time you hear, “Oh yeah, that verb is irregular.”
Fair warning: You’ll hear that a lot when it comes to ER verbs. In fact, 72% of all ER verbs are irregular.
They may be frustrating, but ER verbs are very commonly used in Spanish. You really can’t avoid them if you want to make progress in the language.
Once you know more about ER verbs and how they work, I bet you’ll feel better. So let’s take a look at them now.
- Regular Spanish ER Verbs
- Irregular ER Verbs
- Stem-changing Spanish ER Verbs
- Practice Resources for Spanish ER Verbs
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Regular Spanish ER Verbs
First, let’s review the basics.
If you need a full review of Spanish verb categories or the indicative simple verb tenses, check out this helpful article.
Conjugating regular ER verbs in the indicative simple tenses is pretty straightforward.
For the present, preterite and imperfect tenses, follow these steps:
1. Remove the ER ending to get the verb’s stem.
2. Add the corresponding ending to the stem for each tense and person.
Here are the endings for these three tenses:
Pretty simple, right?
Well, the other two simple indicative tenses are even easier!
For the conditional and future tenses, simply add the appropriate ending to the infinitive form. Here are the endings:
Once you remember these rules, you can conjugate any regular ER verb in the Spanish language!
Let’s look at some of the most common regular ER verbs, and some properly conjugated example sentences.
Comer (to eat)
Note that in Spain, comer means “to have lunch.” In Central and South America (and certain parts of Southern Spain), comer means “to eat” in a general sense.
To conjugate this regular ER verb, follow the instructions above. Remove the ER, and you see the stem here is com-.
Vamos a comer.
(We are going to eat/to have lunch.)
Hoy he comido algo que me ha sentado fatal.
(Today I ate something that didn’t sit well with me.)
Ella come muy poco.
(She doesn’t eat very much.)
Beber (to drink)
This common, regular ER verb conjugates following the same rules as comer. The verb beber works pretty much the same way in both Spanish and English.
(Do you drink coffee?)
Puedes beber el refresco, yo beberé agua.
(You can drink the soda, I’ll drink water.)
Mi mamá bebe té todas las noches antes de acostarse.
(My mom drinks tea every night before bed.)
Aprender (to learn)
This verb functions pretty much exactly like the verb “to learn” in English. It also follows the regular ER conjugation rules.
Quiero aprender a hablar francés.
(I want to learn to speak French.)
Los idiomas se aprenden en la cuna o en la cama.
(Languages are learned in the crib or in the bed.)
Como no aprendas a bailar, no podrás apuntarte para el concurso de baile.
(If you don’t learn how to dance, you won’t be able to sign up for the dance contest.)
Vender (to sell)
Vender is another regular ER verb that works similarly to its English counterpart.
Vendimos nuestra casa el año pasado.
(We sold our house last year.)
Ella vende sus obras de arte en Internet.
(She sells her artwork on the internet.)
¿Venden toallas aquí?
(Do they sell towels here?)
Irregular ER Verbs
It’s extremely important that you learn irregular ER conjugations because almost all ER verbs are irregular.
Many irregular verbs still have a pattern. Below, I’ll introduce you to some conjugation patterns for certain ER verbs called stem-changing verbs.
For now, however, let’s take a look at some of the truly irregular ER verbs, meaning they’re irregular verbs that have their own irregularities (verbos de irregularidad propia).
When conjugating this type of irregular verb, there’s no formula to follow for the conjugations—you’ll just have to memorize them.
Ser (to be)
This version of “to be” in Spanish is used to talk about permanent qualities, such as:
- physical description of people
- event locations
This is one of the most common Spanish verbs. Here’s how to conjugate it in simple indicative forms:
The verb stem for ser is completely wacky in most tenses. Luckily, the conditional and future tenses retain the infinitive form.
Soy de Georgia.
(I am from Georgia.)
(I am American.)
Hoy es jueves.
(Today is Thursday.)
Tener (to have)
Here’s another extremely common Spanish verb. It means “to have” and is used to show possession, age and obligation.
While most of its simple present conjugations follow the E-IE stem change rules that you’ll learn below, tener also has some totally unique forms. Notice how different is it from ser, also.
Here’s tener in the simple indicative tenses:
And here are some examples of how to use it:
Tengo 21 años.
(I am 21 years old.)
Él tiene que hacer algunos recados.
(He has to run some errands.)
Tienen un hermano.
(They have a brother.)
You can also use tener to express states of being, like being hot or cold. Notice that the literal translation in the example below is “I had heat,” which we translate into English as “I was hot.”
Tuve calor y por eso decidí dormir sin manta.
(I was hot and that’s why I decided to sleep without a blanket.)
Haber (to have, to be, there is/are)
This irregular verb is used in two ways: to express the existence of something, or as a helping verb that precedes a past participle of the perfect tense, just like “have” in English.
Haber is used differently than most verbs, but it’s very common and therefore very important to learn.
Hay mucha gente aquí.
(There are a lot of people here.)
No hay toallas en esta tienda.
(There aren’t any towels in this store.)
No ha descansado y por eso tiene sueño ahora.
(He hasn’t rested and that’s why he’s sleepy now.)
Saber (to know)
This irregular verb refers to knowing “head knowledge,” such as facts, dates, etc.
Sé hablar español.
(I know how to speak Spanish.)
¿Sabes montar en bicicleta?
(Do you know how to ride a bike?)
No sabe cuánto lo quiero.
(He doesn’t know how much I love him.)
However, in the preterite tense, saber becomes more like “discovered” or “found out.”
Supimos que iba a llover y cancelamos la barbacoa.
(We found out it was going to rain and canceled the barbecue.)
It’s also important to note that when the verb is followed by a, it means “to taste of/like.”
El pollo sabe a perejil.
(The chicken tastes like parsley/has a parsley taste to it.)
Conocer (to know)
Like saber, the verb conocer also means “to know.” This one, however, deals more with “heart knowledge,” like relationships with other people. Conocer can also be used with places, songs, etc.
La conozco bastante bien y puedo decir que es muy buena persona.
(I know her pretty well and can say she’s a very good person.)
¿Conoces la ciudad?
(Do you know/Have you personally visited the city?)
No conozco esta canción.
(I don’t know this song.)
Hacer (to do, to make)
In Spanish, there’s no distinction between things we do and things we make—either way, you’ll use hacer.
It’s usually used to talk about making food or doing an activity, but it’s also used for the English phrase “to play sports” (hacer deportes).
Siempre hago los deberes.
(I always do my homework.)
Estoy haciendo una sopa.
(I’m making a soup.)
Hace buen tiempo.
(The weather is nice.)
[Literally: It makes good weather.]
This irregular verb can also be reflexive (hacerse), which can have a variety of meanings depending on the context.
Leer (to read)
Leer is another common Spanish ER verb that’s used just like its English translation, “to read.”
Nosotros leemos libros.
(We read books.)
Él todavía lee el periódico todas las mañanas.
(He still reads the newspaper every morning.)
La semana pasada leí un libro sobre finanzas personales.
(Last week I read a book about personal finance.)
Ver (to see, to watch)
Ver is usually used for “watching a movie,” but it can also be used to speak of physically seeing people. When this is the case, the verb is followed with a.
Hoy vemos una película de terror.
(Today we’ll watch a horror movie.)
Hoy he visto a Carmen andando por la calle.
(Today I saw Carmen walking down the street.)
¿Ves cómo no me hace caso?
(Do you see how he doesn’t pay attention to me?)
This irregular verb also has a reflexive version. Verse means “to see oneself.”
No quiero verme en el espejo ahora mismo.
(I don’t want to see myself in the mirror right now.)
The reflexive verse can also be used to describe how someone or something looks.
Te ves muy linda esta noche.
(You look very pretty tonight.)
Stem-changing Spanish ER Verbs
Stem-changing verbs are another tricky category of irregular verbs. As I mentioned above, they don’t follow the conjugation rules of regular verbs, but here you’ll at least find a similar pattern in each set.
As you can probably guess from their name, these verbs undergo a stem change in the conjugation process.
In many cases (but not all), only the simple present tense is affected by the stem change for ER verbs.
Importantly, the stem does NOT change in the simple present nosotros and vosotros forms.
For a list of the most common stem-changing verbs in Spanish, check out this article. Here, we’ll continue to focus on ER verbs only.
E-IE stem-changing verbs
With verbs in this category, the E becomes an IE in the relevant conjugated forms.
Let’s check out some examples. Here’s entender (to understand), querer (to want) and perder (to lose) in their simple present conjugations:
Notice how the E becomes IE for each, except in the nosotros and vosotros forms. For every other pronoun, simply follow the formula.
Entender (to understand)
This E-IE stem-changing Spanish verb functions just like its English equivalent.
No entiendo cómo has logrado escapar.
(I don’t understand how you’ve managed to escape.)
No entendemos los deberes.
(We don’t understand the homework.)
Entiende muy bien cómo funciona la empresa y por eso se ha convertido en director.
(He understands very well how the company operates and for this reason he’s become the CEO.)
Querer (to want)
Querer is one of those versatile verbs with various shades of meaning depending upon when and how you use it. It’s usually used to express wanting something. For example:
Quiero una copa de vino.
(I want a glass of wine.)
Ellas quieren ir a Italia el próximo año.
(They want to go to Italy next year.)
¿Quieres hacer el pastel de cumpleaños de papá conmigo?
(Do you want to make dad’s birthday cake with me?)
Querer is also used frequently as a less profound version of amar (to love).
Quiere mucho a su hermanito.
(She really loves her little brother.)
Perder (to lose)
Just like “to lose” in English, you can use the Spanish verb perder to discuss both tangible and intangible things.
Ella perdió las llaves de su auto en el parque.
(She lost her car keys at the park.)
¡No puedo creer que perdimos otro partido de fútbol!
(I can’t believe we lost another soccer game!)
Si no apruebo este examen, perdería toda motivación para esta clase.
(If I fail this exam, I’ll lose all motivation for this class.)
Defender (to defend)
Defender is obviously similar to the English “to defend,” and is another E-IE stem-changing verb.
Él defiende bien sus argumentos.
(He defends his arguments well.)
Julia defiende a su hermana de los niños malos de la clase.
(Julia defends her sister from the mean kids in class.)
Muchos creen que los soldados defienden los valores de su país.
(Many believe that soldiers defend the values of their country.)
O-UE stem-changing verbs
For O to UE verbs, the O becomes UE in the applicable forms.
Take a look at poder (to be able to), volver (to return) and soler (to have the tendency to) as conjugated in the simple present:
Once again, the nosotros and vosotros forms don’t undergo a stem change. Everywhere else, the O becomes UE, so you can simply follow the formula!
Poder (to be able to)
This commonly used O-UE stem-changing verb expresses the ability to perform an action or activity.
¿Puedo ir al baño por favor?
(Can/May I go to the bathroom, please?
Puedes acompañarnos si quieres.
(You can come along with us if you’d like.)
Volver (to return)
Volver is often followed by a to specify returning to a particular location.
Ellos vuelven a sus asientos.
(They return to their seats.)
Pedro vuelve a España todos los veranos.
(Pedro returns to Spain every summer.)
Volví a la casa de mi amigo anoche.
(I went back to my friend’s house last night.)
Soler (to have the tendency to)
In Spanish, this O-UE verb is used to talk about habits and things that are done consistently. Soler is often used where English says “usually,” “generally” or “normally.”
Because of its meaning, you will probably only ever see soler in the simple present or imperfect tenses.
Suelo desayunar a las 7:30 de la mañana.
(I usually have breakfast at 7:30 in the morning.)
Ellas suelen hacer su tarea en ese café.
(They usually do their homework in that coffee shop.)
Cuando era niño, solía ir a un campamento de verano en los Estados Unidos.
(As a kid, I used to go to summer camp in the US.)
Mover (to move)
Our final stem-changing ER verb is another that works very similarly to its English version.
¡No se mueva!
Tú mueves las cajas y yo muevo las sillas.
(You move the boxes and I move the chairs.)
¡Los niños se mueven muy gracioso cuando intentan bailar!
(The kids move so funny when they try to dance!)
Practice Resources for Spanish ER Verbs
Now that you know some of the most common ER verbs, it’s time to practice!
- This catchy YouTube video will help you memorize common irregular verbs in Spanish. Or, if you’d like different options, try searching for “Spanish irregular verb songs.”
- Watching videos on FluentU can show you Spanish ER verbs in use. The subtitles will provide each word, and you can click on them for a full breakdown of the word’s form and more example sentences.
- Try your hand at the verb conjugation exercises on Conjuguemos. No need for Spanish books or workbooks here—just think quickly and practice beating your own record.
- Find your perfect language exchange partner and start chatting in Spanish! The most efficient way to remember all of these tricky ER verbs is to use them in conversation whenever you can.
Remember, when it comes to Spanish verbs—be they of the AR, ER or IR persuasion—practice really does make perfect!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)