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.

 NecesitarComerVivir

Yo

Necesito
I need
Como
I eat
Vivo
I live

Necesitas
You need
Comes
You eat
Vives
You live

Él/ella/Usted

Necesita
He/she needs
Come
He/she eats
Vive
He/she lives

Nosotros

Necesitamos
We need
Comemos
We eat
Vivimos
We live

Vosotros

Necesitáis
You need
Coméis
You eat
Vivís
You live

Ellos/ellas/ustedes

Necesitan
They need
Comen
They eat
Viven
They live

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.

Yo:
Necesito un café
I need a coffee
Como paella muy a menudo
I eat paella very often
Vivo en España
I live in Spain

Tú:
Necesitas agua
You need water
¿Comes pescado cada semana?
Do you eat fish every week?
¿Vives cerca de aquí?
Do you live nearby?

Él/ella/usted:
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

Nosotros:
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

Vosotros:
¿Necesitáis algo más?
Do you need anything else?
Coméis mucho
You eat much
Vivís en una casa muy grande
You live in a very large house

Ellos/ellas/ustedes:
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.

Practice the Spanish present tense now

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
HacerTo do
IrTo go
QuererTo want
DecirTo say
PoderTo be able to
PonerTo put
SaberTo know
(to know facts, information)

ConocerTo 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:

 HacerPonerSaberConocer

Yo

Hago
I do
Pongo
I put

I know
Conozco
I know

Haces
You do
Pones
You put
Sabes
You know
Conoces
You know

Él/ella/Usted

Hace
He/she does
Pone
He/she puts
Sabe
He/she knows
Conoce
He/she knows

Nosotros

Hacemos
We do
Ponemos
We put
Sabemos
We know
Conocemos
We know

Vosotros

Hacéis
You do
Ponéis
You put
Sabéis
You know
Conocéis
You know

Ellos/ellas/ustedes

Hacen
They do
Ponen
They put
Saben
They know
Conocen
They know

Now, let’s look at some verbs that have irregularities to more than one person:

 SerEstarTenerIrQuererDecirPoder

Yo

Soy
I am
Estoy
I am
Tengo
I have
Voy
I go
Quiero
I want
Digo
I say
Puedo
I can

Eres
You are
Estás
You are
Tienes
You have
Vas
You go
Quieres
You want
Dices
You say
Puedes
You can

Él/ella/Usted

Es
He/she is
Está
He/she is
Tiene
He/she has
Va
He/she goes
Quiere
He/she wants
Dice
He/she says
Puede
He/she can

Nosotros

Somos
We are
Estamos
We are
Tenemos
We have
Vamos
We go
Queremos
We want
Decimos
We say
Podemos
We can

Vosotros

Sois
You are
Estáis
You are
Tenéis
You have
Vais
You go
Queréis
You want
Decís
You say
Podéis
You can

Ellos/ellas/ustedes

Son
They are
Están
They are
Tienen
They have
Van
They go
Quieren
They want
Dicen
They say
Pueden
They can

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.

Yo:
Tengo el pelo rubio
I have blond hair
Estoy muy emocionado
I am very excited
Soy periodista
I am a journalist
Siempre digo la verdad
I always tell the truth

Tú:
¿Quieres ir al cine?
Do you want to go to the movies?
Eres bonita
You are beautiful
¿Por qué estás aquí?
Why are you here?
Tienes que comer más
You have to eat more

Él/ella/usted:
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)

Nosotros:
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

Vosotros:
¿Cómo estáis?
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

Ellos/ellas/ustedes:
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”

More examples

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.)

Practice the Spanish present tense now

Now what?

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.

Visit our grammar section to learn more about Spanish grammar. If you want to read Spanish texts with translations, visit our blog section to find articles and short stories.