The Spanish present tense is very easy to understand, and once you learn how to use it you will know how to express a lot of things in Spanish. If you are just getting into learning Spanish, then this is a good place to start.
In all verb tenses we have both regular and irregular verbs to consider, and the present tense is no exception. So, let’s get started with learning Spanish! First we will take a look at the regular verbs in the Spanish present tense, indicativo presente.
Spanish Present Tense – Regular Verbs
All Spanish verbs can be put into 3 groups; those which end with -ar, -er and -ir. They follow slightly different rules when it comes to conjugation.
We will use these 3 verbs as examples:
Necesitar – To need
Comer – To eat
Vivir – To live
How to conjugate Spanish verbs in the present tense
You will see a clear pattern here, and this pattern can be applied to all regular verbs, and it even works more or less the same way for irregular verbs as well.
This table shows that you first have to remove the verb ending (-ar, -er or -ir) and then replace it with a new ending, depending on the person(s) performing the action.
First person singular (yo): Always add -o
Second person singular (tú): Add -as (-ar verbs) or -es (-er and -ir verbs)
Third person singular (él/ella): Add -a (-ar verbs) or -e (-er and -ir verbs)
First person plural (nosotros): Add -amos (-ar verbs), -emos (-er verbs) or -imos (-ir verbs)
Second person plural (vosotros): Add -áis (-ar verbs), -éis (-er verbs) or -ís (-ir verbs) – (mostly used in Spain)
Second person plural (ustedes): Add -an (-ar verbs) or -en (-er and -ir verbs) – (mostly used in South America)
Third person plural (ellos/ellas): Add -an (-ar verbs) or -en (-er and -ir verbs)
The Spanish present tense in practice
Now that we have taken a look at how to conjugate verbs in the Spanish present tense, let’s look at how we would use this knowledge in a real sentence. Below you can read some short and simple sentences using our 3 regular verbs from different points of view – de diferentes puntos de vista.
Notice that we don’t need to use the personal pronoun (I, you, he, etc.) because the verb ending tells us which person is performing the action.
Necesito un café
I need a coffee
Como paella muy a menudo
I eat paella very often
Vivo en España
I live in Spain
You need water
¿Comes pescado cada semana?
Do you eat fish every week?
¿Vives cerca de aquí?
Do you live nearby?
Pablo necesita algo para comer
Pablo needs someting to eat
María come en un restaurante
María eats in a restaurant
Vive en Estados Unidos
He/she lives in the USA
Necesitamos ir a casa
We need to go home
Comemos pan todos los días
We eat bread every day
No vivimos aquí
We do not live here
¿Necesitáis algo más?
Do you need anything else?
You eat much
Vivís en una casa muy grande
You live in a very large house
Necesitan aprender español
They need to learn Spanish
Comen aquí a menudo
They eat here often
Viven muy lejos de aquí
They live very far from here
The Spanish present tense is the basic verb time that we use to talk about facts or actions that are taking place at the moment. Most verbs are regular and follow the same pattern when it comes to conjugation, but there are many irregular verbs as well; in fact – some of the most commonly used verbs are irregular, and it’s important to recognize them and know how to use them.
Spanish Present Tense – Irregular Verbs
Here are some of the most common irregular Spanish verbs in the present tense:
Ser – To be
(permanent, personality, profession, etc.)
Estar – To be
(state of being, mood, place, etc.)
Tener – To have
Hacer – To do
Ir – To go
Querer – To want
Decir – To say
Poder – To be able to
Poner – To put
Saber – To know
(to know facts, information)
Conocer – To know
(to know people/places, to meet, to be familiar with)
Remember that in Spanish the infinite form of a verb only consists of one word. In English it consists of two words – we need to put the word “to” in front of it
Conjugating irregular verbs in the Spanish present tense
The irregular verbs have some slight differences from the regular ones, and some of them even change completely. Let’s take a look at some of them.
All of the verbs below are verbs you will see a lot in the Spanish language, even from beginner level. All of them have one or more differences from the regular conjugation pattern.
Let’s first look at some verbs that are only irregular in the first person singular (yo), and follow the regular pattern in all the other persons:
Now, let’s look at some verbs that have irregularities to more than one person:
You should notice here that most of the verb endings follow the regular pattern, the verb stem is the only thing that is changing. However, some forms of the verbs change completely, including the ending. These verbs are very useful to practice and repeat until you know them.
Let’s look at some more examples
We have now seen some of the most common irregular verbs in the Spanish present tense and how they are conjugated. Now it is time to practice and get familiar with them. Below you can read some short and simple sentences using some of these verbs from different points of view – de diferentes puntos de vista.
Pay attention to the use of ser and estar below. Look at the context and try to figure out why ser or estar is used.
Tengo el pelo rubio
I have blond hair
Estoy muy emocionado
I am very excited
I am a journalist
Siempre digo la verdad
I always tell the truth
¿Quieres ir al cine?
Do you want to go to the movies?
You are beautiful
¿Por qué estás aquí?
Why are you here?
Tienes que comer más
You have to eat more
Juan puede hacer esto
Juan can do this
Ella es muy inteligente
She is very intelligent
Siempre va al trabajo muy temprano
He/she always goes to work very early
Ana está muy contenta
Ana is very happy (at the moment)
Nos conocemos demasiado bien
We know each other too well
Estamos listos para ir
We are ready to go
Somos de Argentina
We are from Argentina
No sabemos nada
We don’t know anything
How are you all?
¿Sabéis qué hora es?
Do you know what time it is?
¿Sois los padres de Pedro?
Are you Pedro’s parents?
Lo hacéis muy bien
You do very well
Siempre dicen que no es necesario
They always say that it’s not necessary
Tus abuelos son muy ricos
Your grandparents are very rich
No pueden estar aquí
They can’t be here
Están cansados, así que van a casa
They are tired, so they go home
How to use the Spanish Present tense
The Spanish present tense have many uses, and we will now look at the 4 areas where it is mostly used.
1. Actions taking place now
We use it to talk about things that are happening right now, current locations, current moods and states of being.
¿Cómo está tu abuela? – How is your grandmother?
Juan corre al parque – Juan runs to the park
Voy a la cocina – I’m going to the kitchen
Estoy en la cocina – I am in the kitchen
2. Facts and opinions
We use it to talk about facts, opinions, known truths and events that are not connected to a specific time.
Nueva York es muy grande – New York is very big
Me gusta el fútbol – I like football
Las jirafas tienen los cuellos largos – Giraffes have long necks
Macchu Picchu está en Peru – Macchu Picchu is in Peru
3. Habits and recurring actions
We can use it to talk about our daily routines, hobbies, things we often do and actions that often occur.
Hago ejercicio 2 veces a la semana – I exercise 2 times a week
Siempre me acuesto a las 11 – I always go to bed at 11 o’clock
Sara visita a menudo a su madre – Sara often visits her mother
¿Juegas al fútbol los viernes? – Do you play football on fridays?
4. Plans and decisions for near future
We can use the present tense when we talk about plans, appointments or things that are sure to happen in near future.
Tengo una clase mañana – I have a class tomorrow
Vamos a la playa luego – We’re going to the beach later
¡Te veo más tarde! – I see you later!
Mi tío viene a casa mañana – My uncle comes home tomorrow
The four uses described above are the most common for the Spanish present tense. You can now play around and make your own sentences – to practice your Spanish, think about how you would say things in Spanish every day.
You can also use the present tense to order something in a bar or restaurant, for example: “Quiero un café”
A basic conversation between two people who just met is a good example of using the present tense. Read the conversation below between Alejo and Emma, who meets each other on the bus:
– ¡Hola! Me llamo Alejo, ¿Cómo te llamas?
(Hi, my name is Alejo, what is your name?)
– ¡Buenos días! Soy Emma. ¿Eres de aquí?
(Good day! I am Emma. Are you from here?)
– Sí, vivo muy cerca de aquí. Siempre voy al trabajo en autobús. ¿Y tú?
(Yes, I live very close to here. I always take the bus to work. And you?)
– Soy nueva en la ciudad y busco piso aquí. ¿Sabes dónde puedo encontrar uno?
(I am new in town and I am looking for an apartment here. Do you know where I can find one?)
– Sí, puedes leer el periódico, siempre hay muchas pisos para encontrar ahí.
-(Yes, you can read the newspaper, there are always many apartments to find there.)
– ¡Muchas gracias! Me gusta mucho esta ciudad.
(Thank you very much! I really like this town.)
To learn more about the use of the Spanish present tense, read our short story La Chica del Vestido Azul. It is written in the present tense and is a thrilling story about David, who meets a girl from his past.