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Spanish Verbs: Most Frequent Stem-Changing and Irregular Verbs in Spanish

Spanish language students often find that the most difficult part of the Spanish language to learn is the Spanish verb system simply because of the large amount of conjugation in comparison to the English verb system. But, learning to conjugate verbs in Spanish can be easier if the student has mastered a large vocabulary of Spanish verbs. The following sections list, define, and explain the most frequent stem-changing and irregular verbs in the Spanish language.

Present Tense Stem-Changing Spanish Verbs

Spanish language students must learn that some verbs are stem-changing in the present tense. Stem-changing means that the vowel in the stem of the verb changes to another vowel or vowels. In the following verbs, the e in the stem changes to an i in the simple present form:

  • conseguir: to get, to obtain (e:i)
  • impedir: to impede (e:i)
  • pedir: to ask for, to order (e:i)
  • reír: to laugh (e:i)
  • repetir: to repeat (e:i)
  • seguir: to follow, to continue (e:i)
  • servir: to serve (e:i)
  • sonreír: to smile (e:i)

In the following verbs, the e in the stem changes to an ie in the simple present form:

  • cerrar: to close, to shut (e:ie)
  • comenzar: to begin (e:ie)
  • empezar: to begin (e:ie)
  • entender: to understand (e:ie)
  • pensar: to think about (e:ie)
  • perder: to lose (e:ie)
  • preferir: to prefer (e:ie)
  • sentir: to feel (e:ie)

In the following verbs, the o in the stem changes to an ue in the simple present form:

  • almorzar: to eat lunch (o:ue)
  • contar: to count, to tell (o:ue)
  • costar: to cost (o:ue)
  • devolver to return (o:ue)
  • dormir: to sleep (o:ue)
  • encontrar: to find (o:ue)
  • morir: to die (o:ue)
  • mover: to move (o:ue)
  • recordar: to remember (o:ue)
  • resolver: to solve (o:ue)
  • sonar: to sound, to ring (o:ue)
  • soñar: to dream (o:ue)
  • volar: to fly (o:ue)
  • volver: to return (o:ue)

Preterite Stem-Changing Spanish Verbs

Spanish language learners must also learn that some verbs are also stem-changing in the preterite. In the following verbs, the e in the stem changes to an i in the preterite form:

  • conseguir: to get, to obtain (e:i)
  • impedir: to impede (e:i)
  • pedir: to ask for, to order (e:i)
  • preferir: to prefer (e:i)
  • reír: to laugh (e:i)
  • repetir: to repeat (e:i)
  • seguir: to follow, to continue (e:i)
  • servir: to serve (e:i)
  • sonreír: to smile (e:i)

In the following verbs, the o in the stem changes to an u in the preterite form:

  • dormir: to sleep (o:u)
  • morir: to die (o:u)

Note that only -ir verbs change in the preterite.

Irregular Spanish Verbs

Unlike stem-changing verbs that are regular in their vowel changes, other Spanish verbs are simply irregular in one or more conjugation. The following verbs are the most frequently used irregular Spanish verbs that Spanish language students should learn and understand:

  • conducir: to drive
  • estar: to be
  • dar: to give
  • decir: to say, to tell (e:i)
  • haber: to have
  • hacer: to make, to do
  • ir: to go
  • poner: to put, to place
  • saber: to know
  • ser: to be
  • tener: to have (e:ie)
  • venir: to come (e:ie)
  • ver: to see, to watch

Learning to conjugate verbs in the Spanish language is sometimes difficult for native English speakers simply because of the sheer quantity of conjugations in Spanish as compared to in English. However, by learning these lists of most frequent stem-changing and irregular Spanish verbs, Spanish learners will discover that learning conjugation becomes easier.

For a list of the most regular Spanish verbs, please refer to Spanish Verbs: Most Frequent Regular Verbs in Spanish.

Note: I have studied Spanish as a foreign language. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in my Spanish.

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