The simple present is a verb conjugation in the Spanish language that refers to verbs in the present tense, simple aspect, indicative mood, and active voice. Similar to in English, the simple present in Spanish can be defined as a verb form that expresses a discrete action or event in the present or near future. Unlike in English, however, the Spanish simple present also expresses ongoing actions in progress in the present. The following sections explain the formation of the simple present of regular Spanish as well as the use of Spanish verbs in the simple present that Spanish language learners must understand and master.
Formation of the Spanish Simple Present
Like the majority of verb forms in the Spanish language, the simple present is formed through the process of inflection. Inflection can be defined as the modification of the form of a word through affixation. Verbs in the simple present in Spanish are formed by affixing simple present suffixes to the end of the stem of the verb. The conjugation patterns for regular Spanish verbs in the simple present are as follows:
Regular -ar Verbs
- first person singular – stem + o – Yo estudio.
- second person singular – stem + as – Tú hablas.
- third person singular – stem + a – Ella baila.
- first person plural – stem + amos – Nosotros cantamos.
- second person plural – stem + áis – Vosotros jugáis.
- third person plural – stem + an – Ustedes viajan.
Regular -er Verbs
- first person singular – stem + o – Yo como.
- second person singular – stem + es – Tú bebes.
- third person singular – stem + e – Usted vende los coches.
- first person plural – stem + emos – Nosotros debemos.
- second person plural – stem + éis – Vosotros prometéis.
- third person plural – stem + en – Ellos tosen.
Regular -ir Verbs
- first person singular – stem + o – Yo abro la puerta.
- second person singular – stem + es – Tú escribes.
- third person singular – stem + e – Él vive en España.
- first person plural – stem + imos – Nosotros describimos el crimen.
- second person plural – stem + ís – Vosotros recibís la letra.
- third person plural – stem + en – Ellas suben la montaña.
Use of the Spanish Simple Present
The use of the simple present in Spanish is extremely similar to the use of the simple present in English with a few minor differences. Spanish verbs in the simple present most often occur in sentences that express the following situations:
- Discrete actions or states in the present
- Habits, routines, and customary actions
- General facts and truths
- Thoughts and feelings
- Actions or states in the near future
- Actions or states in progress
- Actions or states that begin in the past and continued to the present
- Yo hablo español. “I speak Spanish.”
- Mi tío juega a fútbol. “My uncles plays soccer.
- Mi madre lava los platos todos los dias. “My mom washes the dishes every day.”
- Vivimos en Madrid. “We live in Madrid.”
- ¿Estudias? “Are you studying?”
- ¿Compras las galletas? “Have you bought cookies?”
The simple present expresses discrete actions or states in the present or near future as well as ongoing actions in progress in the present. Spanish language students must learn to form and use the simple present forms of Spanish verbs in order to fully use and understand verbs the Spanish language.
For the conjugation patterns for irregular and stem-changing Spanish verbs, please read The Simple Present of Irregular Spanish Verbs and The Simple Present of Stem-Changing Spanish Verbs. For stem-changing verbs that also experience an orthographic change, please read Spelling Changes of Simple Present Regular Spanish Verbs.
Note: I have studied Spanish as a foreign language. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in my Spanish.
Ramboz, Ina. 2008. Spanish verbs & essentials of grammar (Verbs and Essentials of Grammar Series), 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.