The 15 Most Common Spanish Verbs for Beginner Conversation
Which Spanish verbs should you focus on when beginning your Spanish-learning journey? This post highlights the 15 the most common Spanish verbs used in conversation, along with example sentences. We’ll dive into what conjugating verbs is, how to modify verbs for first-, second-, and third-person pronouns, and look at conjugation tables for regular verbs ending in -ar, -er, and -ir.
You will learn verbs to help you ask for what you want (querer), tell someone what you know (saber), and say (decir) it all en español. Vamos a empezar.
15 Spanish Verbs You Need to Know
Are you learning Spanish and not sure what verbs to focus on first? It is important to study up on the 15 most prominent Spanish verbs used in beginner conversation.
The Spanish verbs are listed in the infinitive form, which simply means that the verb is in its most basic form and is not conjugated.
To talk/speak (to someone or about something)
Hablé con mi mamá en el Día de la Madre. – I spoke with my mom on Mother’s day
Ya me hablaste de esto. – You already told me about this.
To want, to love
Quiero comer chocolate para el desayuno. – I want to eat chocolate for breakfast.
Yo te quiero. – I love you.
Almost always used with the preposition a, as in Ir + a + Infinitive (non-conjugated verb)
Read on for more tips about Ir + a!
Voy a ir a la tienda. – I am going to the store
¿Adónde vas? – Where are you going?
To do, make
Hago helado. – I make ice cream
Ella hace la tarea. – She does homework.
To ask for, to order
Pedí un libro de Amazon. – I ordered a book from Amazon.
Me llamó para pedir más dinero. – He called me to ask for more money
Used to state your age and frequently used as Tengo + que + infinitive verb to show possession
Tengo que ir a la tienda. – I have to go to the store.
Tengo 20 años. – I am 20 years old.
Tengo ganas de comer pan dulce. – I feel like eating sweet bread.
Me gusta comer uvas. – I like to eat grapes.
Comimos arroz. – We ate rice.
To say, tell
Les dije que no. – I told them no.
¿Qué dijiste acerca de Nueva York? – What did you tell me about New York?
To be able to
Puedo manejar el carro en la carretera. – I can drive a car on the freeway.
¿Puedes contar hasta 100 en español? – Can you count to 100 in Spanish?
Le di el libro. – I gave him the book.
Dar las gracias a las personas por la celebración hoy. – Give thanks to everyone for the celebration today.
To be (permanent)
Ser expresses the attributes of a person or thing, such as physical features and characteristics. It is also used with time, dates, nationality, and occupation (things that are unchangeable)
Learn more about Ser usage and conjugations.
Soy una mujer alta con pelo morado. – I am a tall woman with brown hair.
Son las tres de la tarde. – It is 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
To be (temporary)
Used to express feelings, food descriptions, location/place or something you are currently doing(things that are changeable)
Learn more about Estar usage and conjugations.
¿Estás más tranquilo hoy? – Are you calmer today?
La cena está rica. – Dinner is delicious.
Estoy mirando la tele. – I am watching TV.
Most commonly used when expressing that you or someone knows something
Yo sé. – I know.
Mi hijo ya no sabe cocinar. – My son still doesn’t know how to cook.
¿Me ayudas con la tarea? – Will you help me with my homework?
Llegaré tarde al restaurante. – I will arrive late to the restaurant.
In addition to learning these 15 common Spanish verbs, it is important to understand how to conjugate them so that you can use the verb.
Intro to Conjugation Tables
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of what a conjugation table is and how to use it.
First, what is conjugation? Conjugating a verb means modifying the verb to a variation that can be used for first, second or third person subjects and in past, present, future, and other tenses. Dictionary.com defines conjugate as reciting or displaying all or some subsets of the verb, in a fixed order. What does this mean, exactly?
As an example, when you are learning the present tense of the verb tener, then you should memorize the associated conjugation table so that you know how to use the verb. See more details about present tense verbs. Here is a conjugation table for the verb Tener.
|Tener Conjugation Table|
|usted / él / ella||Tiene||You(formal)/he/she has|
|nosotros / nosotras||Tenemos||We have|
|ustedes / ellos / ella||Tienen||They (formal, plural) have|
One way you can practice memorizing the verbs and conjugations is by repeating the verb usages this way: “Tener means to have, yo tengo, tú tienes, usted tiene, nosotros tenemos, ustedes tienen.” This drilling will help you master the verb conjugations.
First, Second, and Third Person
To fully understand a conjugation table, you must know that the pronouns are used in first-, second-, or third-person forms. Let’s review:
1. Primera Persona (First person) is the point of view that uses ‘I’ – yo (singular) or ‘we’ – nosotros (plural).
2. Segunda Persona (Second person) is the point of view that uses the singular form of ‘you’- tú (informal) or usted (formal). 2nd person also uses plural forms of you, as in ‘you guys/you all’- ustedes, ‘they’- ustedes (plural). (This article on formal vs. informal Spanish clarifies when to use tú vs usted).
3, Tercera Persona (Third person) expresses the point of view ‘he/she’ – él/ella (singular) and ‘them’- ellos/ellas (plural) in a narrative.
Let’s put this all together.
Yo tengo helado. – I have ice cream. (first person singular)
Tú tienes una maleta. – You have a suitcase. (second person singular, informal)
Usted tiene dos perros. – You have two dogs. (second person singular, formal)
Él/ella tiene el trabajo. – He/she has the job. (third person singular)
Nosotros tenemos platos. – We have plates. (first person plural)
Ustedes tienen una mesa. – You all have a table. (second person plural, formal or informal)
Ellos tienen una casa rosada. – They have a pink house. (third person plural)
Master Present, Past, and Future Tenses
As Spanish beginner, there are three main tenses that you will want to focus on first: present (el presente), past (el pretérito), and future (el futuro). In simple communication, you can get by speaking within these three tenses to express yourself and be understood by Spanish-speakers in basic conversation.
In case you are wondering what other verb tenses exist, there are also imperfect, conditional, subjunctive, imperative (affirmative and negative), continuous (progressive), perfect, and perfect subjunctive—and various rules and exceptions within each one.
All Spanish verbs end in -ar, -ir, or -er. Once you understand the conjugation rules for each set of verbs, then you will begin conjugating (and speaking Spanish) like a pro. Note that there are irregularities to many verbs, but I will discuss only general rules in this post.
Present Tense Verbs
Present tense verbs discuss the here and now. Let’s review conjugations for verbs ending in -ar, -ir, and -er verbs.
AR Verb Conjugation Table
|usted / él / ella||Habla||You (formal)/he/she speaks|
|nosotros / nosotras||Hablamos||We speak|
|ustedes / ellos / ella||Hablan||They (formal, plural) speak|
One way to practice this is to say “AR verbs are -o, -as, -a, -amos, -an.” You are dropping the entire verb, but practicing the endings and this will help you with most verbs that end in -ar.
ER Verb Conjugation Table
|usted / él / ella||Come||You (formal)/he/she eat|
|nosotros / nosotras||Comemos||We eat|
|ustedes / ellos / ella||Comen||They (formal, plural) eat|
Likewise, practice these ‘ER’ verbs by saying “ER verbs are -o, -es, -e, -emos, -en.”
Verb ending in ‘ER’ Conjugation Table
|usted / él / ella||Pide||You (formal)/he/she ask|
|nosotros / nosotras||Pedimos||We ask|
|ustedes / ellos / ella||Piden||They (formal, plural) ask|
Finally, you can practice ‘IR’ verbs by saying “IR verbs are -o, -es, -e, -imos, -en.” Note that this is an irregular verb, so you don’t say yo pedo…you say yo pido. You change the ‘e’ to an ‘i’ for conjugations except nosotros.
“Ir + a” Trick for Beginners
You want to speak about something in the future, but haven’t quite mastered the future verb conjugations yet. There is a trick that can be used, and it is as simple as saying Ir a – to go to. As stated in the table above, Ir is almost always used with the preposition a, as in Ir + a + Infinitive (non-conjugated verb).
Let’s say you want to tell your friend that you are going to the neighbor’s house later on, but aren’t confident in the future tense usage. Instead of using the future conjugation of ir, Iré a la casa de mi vecino más tarde, you can say: Voy a ir a la casa de mi vecino más trade. They mean the same thing, and you are speaking about the future in Spanish!
Ir Conjugation Table
Here is a quick reference guide to help you master ir in the present and future tenses as well as ir + a. This is one of the most common verbs used in conversation, so be sure and practice so that you get the hang of it.
|Subject||Ir + a + infinitive verb trick||English translation|
|yo||Voy a ir a la tienda.||I am going to go to the store|
|tú||Vas a ir a la tienda.||You are going to go to the store.|
|usted / él / ella||Ella va a ir a la tienda.||She is going to go to the store.|
|nosotros||Vamos a ir a la tienda.||We’re going to go to the store|
|ustedes / ellos||Ellas van a ir a la tienda.||They are going to go to the store.|
Ustedes Pueden Empezar Hoy
Now that you are fully up to speed on what basic Spanish verbs you should master first —it’s time to practice them in real-time! Homeschool Spanish Academy offers flexible and fun Spanish classes for every level. Our native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala are eagerly awaiting the chance to meet you and start a conversation.
Sign up for a free trial today and watch how fast you’ll reach fluency by talking to a professional, certified Spanish teacher!
Want more free Spanish grammar resources? Check out these posts!
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- A Simple Intermediate Guide to Subjunctive Conditional Spanish
- Cuál vs Qué: What’s the Difference?
- Is it ‘Que’ or ‘De Que’? Find Out Which to Use and When
- How to Master Plurals in Spanish Grammar
- Your Guide to Future Irregulars in Spanish Grammar (with Free Cheat Sheet)
I began studying Spanish at age 11 and have been interested in language and culture ever since! While at university, I studied abroad in Spain and Costa Rica and got a B.A. in Environmental Economics with a minor in Spanish. After spending over a decade in corporate America, I now enjoy the simpler things in life. ¡Pura Vida!
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