Your Ultimate Guide to Conjugating the Vosotros Form
Hey you guys!
I’m about to share an important secret, y’all, so listen up:
If you want to blend in with Spaniards, there is one easy step you can take today.
You’ve got to learn (and use!) the vosotros form of your verbs.
That’s simply the form you’ll use to informally address a group of people (like saying “you guys” in English).
Luckily it’s not tricky to learn, and knowing this form will save you from sticking out like a sore thumb when you’re in España.
Trust me, I learned this from first-hand experience: When I moved to Spain last year, I was overwhelmed by all of the differences between Castilian Spanish and the Latin American Spanish I’d learned in high school.
Unwilling to overhaul my vocabulary and grammar, I decided to hold tight to my familiar Latin American Spanish habits. So I continued using words like computadora and palta (instead of ordenador and aguacate). I still made the Argentine “sh” sound when pronouncing y’s and double l’s. And I made no effort to learn the vosotros form.
Instead, I just referred to groups of people as “ustedes,” like I did in Latin America. Why bother learning a new verb form when everyone knew what I meant anyways?
Sure, people understood me, but I did get some strange looks when I used the ustedes form, which is very formal in Spain.
When two co-workers asked me, “Do you not feel comfortable around us? You know you don’t have to address us as ustedes, right?” I figured it was time to put some effort into learning this new verb form.
The vosotros form is not difficult. It is merely unfamiliar to many Spanish speakers who learned Spanish in the Americas. This post will provide a slick guide to all of the conjugations of vosotros verbs, as well as some practice techniques to get you up-to-speed on the vosotros form.
Your Ultimate Guide to Conjugating the Vosotros Form
What Is the Vosotros Form?
In Latin America, if you want to refer to a group of more than one person, you always use the ustedes form. This is true whether you are addressing your three best friends, your parents or a group of foreign heads of state.
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, this is not the case. In Spain, ustedes is reserved only for formal situations—for example, when addressing a group of work superiors, the royal family or your significant other’s grandparents.
In all other situations, use vosotros. Vosotros is the informal, plural “you.” I like to think of it as the “y’all” form or the “you guys” form.
Fun Ways to Practice the Vosotros Form
Once you learn the conjugations below, you’ll definitely want to practice using vosotros to become more familiar with it. Of course, there are tons of Internet resources to practice the vosotros form. Practice and memorization drills are important and will help you quickly master the vosotros form.
However, when you’re looking for a break from the computer screen and workbook, try out these three strategies:
Watch “Game of Thrones”
In modern times, we use the vosotros form to casually speak to groups of people. In antiquated Spanish, however, people used a verb form called the reverential vos to formally address one other person. Luckily for our purposes, the reverential vos and the modern-day vosotros are conjugated exactly the same.
The Spanish-dubbed version of “Game of Thrones” replicates this antiquated Spanish, meaning that the high-class nobles in the show frequently refer to one another using verbs conjugated in the reverential vos. In fact, watching “Game of Thrones” in Spanish with Spanish subtitles was one of my first introductions to vosotros conjugations.
To get the most out of this exercise, turn on the Spanish subtitles and read along as you watch. You might not understand every word, but simply getting accustomed to seeing vosotros verbs written out will be hugely helpful in memorizing the conjugation rules and irregular verbs.
Get Hooked on a Dubbed Sitcom
So “Game of Thrones” isn’t necessarily your thing? No worries. Many popular English-language sitcoms are also dubbed in Spanish. Currently, “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother” are all very popular among young audiences in Spain.
These shows are perfect for studying the vosotros form because they all deal with groups of friends! This means that the characters are frequently addressing more than one person in a casual setting.
Watching a dubbed sitcom is great for beginners and intermediate speakers because you can first watch the episode in English to understand the storyline, and then again dubbed in Spanish with an ear for conjugations and new vocabulary.
More advanced speakers may choose to do the reverse: watch the show first in Spanish, and then watch again in English to confirm that you’ve understood the story. Either way, getting yourself hooked on a sitcom is a surefire way to practice understanding and conjugating the vosotros.
Mix Up Your Conversation Sessions
A one-on-one intercambio is a great way to hone your conversational Spanish. Unfortunately, however, one-on-one conversations don’t create many opportunities for conjugating in the vosotros form. Try meeting with a small group of three or more to naturally create situations that necessitate the vosotros.
You can use meetup.com or couchsurfing.org to search for language exchange meetups in your area. Conversationexchange.com is a great way to connect via Skype with conversation partners all over the world. This website also allows you search by location, so you can specifically find speakers from Spain who use the vosotros form.
Now that you’re all prepared with fun practice methods, let’s check out these conjugations.
Conjugating Regular Verbs in the Vosotros Form
Like all verb forms, the vosotros form has different conjugations based on a verb’s ending. Every Spanish verb has one of three endings: –ar, -er or -ir.
The following chart provides the endings for five commonly-used verb tenses: the present simple, preterite, imperfect, future, and conditional.
¿Venís a este bar cada miércoles?
(Do you guys come to this bar every Wednesday?)
Hablasteis mucho de la política española anoche.
(You guys talked a lot about Spanish politics last night.)
Jugabais al fútbol cada día.
(You guys used to play football every day.)
Comeréis hamburguesas mañana.
(You guys will eat hamburgers tomorrow.)
¿Caminaríais al parque conmigo?
(Would you guys walk to the park with me?)
Spanish has a number of compound tenses: phrasal verbs made up of a main verb and an auxiliary verb. It is especially easy to learn to conjugate these types of verbs in the vosotros form because you only have to learn to conjugate the auxiliary verb! The main verb is conjugated the same regardless of the form.
In English, the present continuous tense is constructed of the auxiliary verb “to be” and a gerund (an -ing verb). Similarly, in Spanish, the present continuous tense consists of the auxiliary verb estar conjugated in the present tense and a gerund, which either ends in –ando or –iendo. We use the present continuous tense to talk about actions that are occurring at the moment of speech.
The present tense vosotros conjugation of estar is estáis. That’s all you need to memorize!
¿Estáis comiendo una hamburguesa?
(Are you guys eating a hamburger?)
Estáis hablando de cosas muy interesantes.
(You guys are talking about very interesting things.)
In English, the past perfect tense is made of the auxiliary verb “have” conjugated in the present tense and a past participle. In Spanish, the past perfect consists of the auxiliary verb haber conjugated in the present tense and a past participle.
Generally, Spanish past participles either end in –ado, -ido, -to or –cho. Use the past perfect to describe an action that began in the past and continues into the present.
The present tense vosotros conjugation of haber is habéis. Knowing that auxiliary verb, we can construct the following sentences in the past perfect:
(Have you all eaten dinner?)
¿Habéis empezado los deberes?
(Have y’all started the homework?)
In Spanish, the pluperfect, like the past perfect, consists of the verb haber and a past participle. However, while in the past perfect tense the verb haber is conjugated in the present, in the pluperfect we conjugate it in the imperfect. Use the pluperfect when you are referring to two subsequent actions, both of which happened in the past.
The imperefect vosotros conjugation of haber is habíais. Here are some example sentences in the pluperfect:
¿Habíais escuchado la música del grupo antes de ir al concierto?
(Had you guys heard the groups music before going to the concert?)
A las 5 ya habíais salido de casa.
(At 5 you had already left home.)
We use the subjunctive mood to talk about hypothetical or uncertain things, or to express emotions. To conjugate verbs in the present subjunctive mood with vosotros, we start as we would with any other verb form. Conjugate the verb in the present-tense yo form and then remove the -o. Then, simply add the appropriate endings:
-éis for –ar verbs
–áis for -er verbs
–áis for -ir verbs
Me gusta que cocinéis comida saludable.
(I like that you all cook healthy food.)
Vamos al cine cuando queráis.
(We’ll go to the movies whenever you guys want.)
To conjugate verbs in the imperfect subjunctive, first conjugate them in the past-tense ellos/ellas/ustedes form. Then remove the final –on and add the appropriate ending:
-ais for –ar verbs
–ais for -er verbs
–ais for -ir verbs
La chica deseaba que desayunarais con ella.
(The girl wanted you guys to eat breakfast with her.)
Dudaba que llegarais temprano.
(I doubted that you would arrive on time.)
To review, the following chart shows the vosotros conjugations for the present subjunctive and imperfect subjunctive:
|Present Subjunctive||Imperfect Subjunctive|
Commands in the vosotros form might be the simplest of all! To make an affirmative vosotros command, simply take an infinitive verb and replace the final r with d. That’s it!
¡Venid aquí ahora mismo!
(Come here right now!)
¡Pasadlo bien en la feria!
(Have a good time at the fair!)
To make a negative vosotros command, use the present subjunctive vosotros conjugation.
¡No comáis eso!
(Don’t eat that!)
¡No habléis con ellos!
(Don’t speak to them!)
Irregular Verbs in the Vosotros Form
The vosotros form has relatively few irregular verbs. Keep in mind that one-syllable verbs like dar and ver will not need an accent mark in the present tense vosotros form (dais, veis). Aside from those exceptions, in the present tense you have two irregular verbs:
ir (to go): vais
ser (to be): sois
In the preterite tense, almost all irregular verbs take the same irregular stem as the other forms, with the –isteis ending. For example, the irregular verb estar (to be) becomes estuvisteis.
The imperfect tense only has three irregular verbs:
ir (to go): ibais
ser (to be): erais
ver (to see): veíais
In the future and conditional tenses, verbs conjugated in the vosotros take the same irregular stems as other forms. For example, tener becomes tendréis in the future tense and tendríais in the conditional tense.
The following five verbs are irregular in the present subjunctive:
dar (to give): deis
haber (to have): hayáis
ir (to go): vayáis
saber (to know): sepáis
ser (to be): seáis
And that’s it for irregular verbs! Not bad, huh?
Learning the vosotros form is no different from learning any other form. All it takes is some practice and repeated exposure. Take the time to learn this important form—your Spanish friends and acquaintances will thank you for it!