50 Irregular Preterite Spanish Verbs You Want to Use Often
Do Spanish irregular preterite verbs scare you? Don’t worry, you’ll find them easy after reading this article. They’ll even start looking regular to you. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
The Spanish preterite tense is the past simple tense in Spanish. You use it to talk about finished and completed actions that happened at a specific point in the past. Actions in preterite Spanish need to have a definite beginning and a definite ending.
Ayer, hice todas mis tareas.
Yesterday, I did all my homework.
Read this article to learn 50 verbs that are irregular in the preterite tense.
I’ll also show you 50 preterite irregular verbs in easy-to-understand groups. You’ll know how to conjugate all of them and more before taking the quiz at the end of this post.
Table of Contents:
- What Is an Irregular Verb?
- List of 50 Irregular Preterite Verbs
- Irregular Preterite Spanish Verb Categories
- Irregular Preterite Verb Practice
- Irregular Preterite Verbs – Multiple Choice Quiz
- Practice Irregular Preterite Verbs in a 1-to1 Conversation
What Is an Irregular Verb?
In Spanish, there are three regular conjugations for verbs that end in -ar, for verbs that end in -er, and for verbs that end in -ir. Irregular verbs don’t follow the regular conjugation rules.
Only 5% of -ar verbs are irregular. Among -er verbs, you’ll find 33% that are irregular. The most difficult ones are the -ir verbs—72% of them are irregular.
Irregular verbs aren’t necessarily irregular in all the tenses. Some verbs don’t follow the rules just in the present tense, others in the present tense and the preterite tense, and others are irregular in three or more tenses.
- Preterite vs Imperfect: A Beginner’s Guide to the Past Tense in Spanish
- 18 Preterite Trigger Words in Spanish for Conversations in Past Tense
- Easy Guide To Spanish Irregular Verb Conjugation.
List of 50 Irregular Preterite Verbs
Let’s start with the list of the 50 irregular preterite verbs that you’ll learn to use and conjugate today. This is simply a list of all of them in alphabetical order; later you’ll learn more about them. Click here to download this list in a PDF format to practice with the verbs later on.
- can – poder
- to achieve – conseguir
- to agree – convenir
- to ask for – pedir
- to be – estar
- to be – ser
- to be – ir
- to believe – creer
- to bring – traer
- to come – venir
- to compose – componer
- to contain – contener
- to contradict – contradecir
- to corrode – corroer
- to decompose – descomponer
- to die – morir
- to do – hacer
- to dress – vestirse
- to drive – conducir
- to fall – caer
- to feel – sentir
- to fire – despedir
- to fit – caber
- to give – dar
- to have – tener
- to have (aux.) – haber
- to hear – oir
- to know – saber
- to laugh – reir
- to organize – organizar
- to pay – pagar
- to predict – predecir
- to prevent – prevenir
- to produce – producir
- to propose – proponer
- to put – poner
- to redo – rehacer
- to repeat – repetir
- to retain – retener
- to run away – huir
- to say – decir
- to see – ver
- to sleep – dormir
- to smile – sonreír
- to stop – detener
- to touch – tocar
- to translate – traducir
- to undo – deshacer
- to walk – andar
- to want – querer
In a moment, you’ll learn how to conjugate them all!
Irregular Preterite Spanish Verb Categories
We can divide the irregular preterite Spanish verbs into three groups:
1. Verbs with Regular Preterite Endings and Minor Stem Changes
These are the regular endings for each conjugation:
Preterite Endings: Regular -ar Verbs
Yo – é
Él, ella, Ud. – ó
Ellos, ellas -aron
For example: hablar (to talk) – hablé, hablaste, habló, hablamos, hablaron, hablaron.
Preterite Endings: Regular -er and -ir Verbs
Él, ella, Ud. -ió
Ellos, ellas -ieron
- correr (to run): corrí, corriste, corrió, corrimos, corrieron
- abrir (to open): abrí, abriste, abrió, abrimos, abrieron
The following irregular preterite verbs keep the regular endings but suffer some other changes inside the stem.
Just a quick reminder; a stem is what you get when you cut off the infinitive ending (–ar, -er, -ir) from the verb. For example, for the verb comer (to eat), the stem is com-.
-ir Verbs with Small Stem Changes
The –ir irregular preterite verbs that keep the regular –ir endings involve three types of changes:
- e to i
- o to u
- accent changes
These changes occur ONLY in the third-person singular and the second- and third-person plural.
On this list of 50 irregular Spanish verbs, there are five verbs with the e to i change, two verbs with the o to u change, and two verbs with accent changes.
Preterite Conjugation for e to i Stem Changes: sentir (to feel)
|Yo sentí||Nosotros sentimos|
|Tú sentiste||Ustedes sintieron|
|Él, ella, usted sintió||ellos, ellas sintieron|
¿Cómo se sintió el temblor?
How did the earthquake feel?
Other verbs on the list that conjugate like this are pedir (to ask for), conseguir (to get, achieve), repetir (to repeat), and vestirse (to dress).
Preterite Conjugation for o to u Stem Changes: dormir (to sleep)
|Yo dormí||Nosotros dormimos|
|Tú dormiste||Ustedes durmieron|
|Él, ella, usted durmió||ellos, ellas durmieron|
Juan se durmió tarde y no se levantó a tiempo.
Juan slept late and did not wake up on time.
The verbs that undergo accent changes are reír and sonreír. They both lose the accent mark over the i in the third-person singular and in the second- and third-person plural, but reír also loses the accent mark in the third person ending, whereas sonreír doesn’t.
Preterite Conjugation with Accent Changes: reír (to laugh)
|Yo reí||Nosotros reímos|
|Tú reíste||Ustedes rieron|
|Él, ella, usted rio||ellos, ellas rieron|
Se rio a carcajadas de su chiste.
He laughed out loud at her joke.
Preterite Conjugation with Accent Changes: sonreír (to smile)
|Yo sonreí||Nosotros sonreímos|
|Tú sonreíste||Ustedes sonrieron|
|Él, ella, usted sonrió||ellos, ellas sonrieron|
¡No me sonrieron cuando me vieron!
They didn’t smile when they saw me!
Preterite Verbs That Change in the Yo Form
Three types of verbs have an irregular stem in the first person but they keep the regular preterite endings:
- verbs that end in -car
- verbs that end in -gar
- verbs that end in -zar
Preterite Conjugation for Verbs Ending in -car: tocar (to touch)
The letter c changes to qu for pronunciation reasons, if it didn’t you would pronounce the word *tocé as /to’se/ instead of /to‘ke/.
|Yo toqué||Nosotros tocamos|
|Tú tocaste||Ustedes tocaron|
|Él, ella, usted tocó||ellos, ellas tocaron|
¡El año pasado toqué un delfín!
Last year, I touched a dolphin!
Preterite Conjugation for Verbs Ending in -gar: pagar (to pay)
You have to add the letter u after the letter g to keep the original pronunciation.
|Yo pagué||Nosotros pagamos|
|Tú pagaste||Ustedes pagaron|
|Él, ella, usted pagó||ellos, ellas pagaron|
Pagué en efectivo.
I paid in cash.
Preterite Conjugation for Verbs Ending in -zar: organizar (to organize)
The letter z changes to c for the same reasons as for the verbs above.
|Yo organicé||Nosotros organizamos|
|Tú organizaste||Ustedes organizaron|
|Él, ella, usted organizó||ellos, ellas organizaron|
Para mi cumpleaños, organicé la fiesta del año.
For my birthday, I organized the party of the year.
Preterite Verbs with Additional y
Some -er and -ir verbs change the letter i in the third-person singular, and the second- and third-person plural:
- verbs ending in -eer, -caer, -oír, and –oer
- verbs ending in -uir
Both groups gain the letter y in the grammatical subjects I mentioned, but the first group also has an accent over the letter i in all the other grammatical subjects.The verbs that end in –uir never have an accent mark over the letter i in the preterite ending.
Preterite Conjugation for –eer Verbs: creer (to believe)
|Yo creí||Nosotros creímos|
|Tú creíste||Ustedes creyeron|
|Él, ella, usted creyó||ellos, ellas creyeron|
No me creyó y yo sí le creí.
He didn’t believe me and I believed him.
Preterite Conjugation for –caer Verbs: caer (to fall)
|Yo caí||Nosotros caímos|
|Tú caíste||Ustedes cayeron|
|Él, ella, usted cayó||ellos, ellas cayeron|
¡Jaja! !Caíste! Y todo esto fue una broma.
Haha! You fell for it! And this was all a joke.
Preterite Conjugation for –oír Verbs: oír (to hear)
|Yo oí||Nosotros oímos|
|Tú oíste||Ustedes oyeron|
|Él, ella, usted oyó||ellos, ellas oyeron|
Se oyó un trueno.
A clap of thunder was heard.
Preterite Conjugation for –oer Verbs: corroer (to corrode)
|Yo corroí||Nosotros corroímos|
|Tú corroíste||Ustedes corroyeron|
|Él, ella, usted corroyó||ellos, ellas corroyeron|
Fueron dos chicos nada más y corroyeron todo el grupo.
These were only two boys and they corroded the whole group.
Here is a -uir verb with no accent over the i:
Preterite Conjugation for –uir Verbs: huir (to run away, to flee)
|Yo hui||Nosotros huimos|
|Tú huiste||Ustedes huyeron|
|Él, ella, usted huyó||ellos, ellas huyeron|
Hui del país pero él huyó de su pasado.
I fled the country but he fled his past.
2. Verbs with Irregular Preterite Endings and Changes in the Stem
All the verbs in this group have different preterite endings and no accent marks.
Irregular preterite endings:
Él, ella, Ud. -o
Ellos, ellas -ieron
The verbs in this group gain the uv in their preterite stem plus the irregular preterite endings: tener (to have), andar (to walk), estar (to be), detener (to stop), retener (to retain, to keep), and contener (to contain, to hold).
Preterite Conjugation for UV-stem Verbs: tener (to have)
|Yo tuve||Nosotros tuvimos|
|Tú tuviste||Ustedes tuvieron|
|Él, ella, usted tuvo||ellos, ellas tuvieron|
Creo que tuve suerte.
I think I was lucky.
The verbs in this group gain the U in their preterite stem. The consonant in the stem will also change in some cases (n to s, b to p).
These are the verbs in this group: poner (to put), poder (can), saber (to know), caber (to keep), componer (to compose), descomponer (to decompose), and proponer (to propose).
Preterite Conjugation for U-stem Verbs: poner (to put)
|Yo puse||Nosotros pusimos|
|Tú pusiste||Ustedes pusieron|
|Él, ella, usted pusiste||ellos, ellas pusieron|
Te lo puse fácil, ándale.
I made it easy for you, come on.
Can you try conjugating saber? Remember to put the letter u in the stem, and change b to p.
The verbs in this group all swap the first vowel for i in the stem. Some of them undergo additional changes.
The verbs that belong to this group include: venir (to come), convenir (to agree), prevenir (to prevent), hacer (to do), querer (to want), deshacer (to undo), and rehacer (to redo).
Venir and other verbs that end like it just swap the vowel in their stem.
Preterite Conjugation for I-stem Verbs: venir (to come)
|Yo vine||Nosotros vinimos|
|Tú viniste||Ustedes vinieron|
|Él, ella, usted vino||ellos, ellas vinieron|
Su reconocimiento vino tarde.
Their recognition came late.
Hacer, querer, and other verbs that derive from them have some more changes. Hacer in the third-person singular changes the c to z, and the verb querer swaps the consonant r for s in all grammatical subjects.
Preterite Conjugation for I-stem Verbs: hacer (to do)
|Yo hice||Nosotros hicimos|
|Tú hiciste||Ustedes hicieron|
|Él, ella, usted hizo||ellos, ellas hicieron|
Mi mamá hizo las mejores tortillas.
My mom made the best tortillas.
Preterite Conjugation for I-stem Verbs: querer (to want)
|Yo quise||Nosotros quisieron|
|Tú quisiste||Ustedes quisieron|
|Él, ella, usted quiso||ellos, ellas quisieron|
Yo no lo quise, pero ellos sí.
I didn’t want it, but they did.
Most of the verbs that end in -ducir, -decir, and -traer have a letter j in their preterite stem. Apart from that, they lose the letter i in the second and third-person plural ending.
The verbs with j in the stem are: decir (to say), traer (to bring), conducir (to drive), producir (to produce), traducir (to translate), predecir (to predict), and contradecir (to contradict).
Preterite Conjugation for J-stem Verbs: traer (to bring)
|Yo traje||Nosotros trajimos|
|Tú trajiste||Ustedes trajeron|
|Él, ella, usted trajo||ellos, ellas trajeron|
Ella te trajo suerte.
She brought you luck.
The verb decir and those that derive from it also change the e in the stem for i.
Preterite Conjugation for J-stem Verbs: decir (to say)
|Yo dije||Nosotros dijimos|
|Tú dijiste||Ustedes dijeron|
|Él, ella, usted dijo||ellos, ellas dijeron|
Te dije que no le contaras.
I told you not to tell him.
3. Highly Irregular Preterite Spanish Verbs
There are just five highly irregular Spanish that you’ll need to memorize: ser (to be), ir (to go), ver (to see), dar (to give), and haber (to have – auxiliary).
The good news is that ser and ir have identical conjugation, so you’ll just need to learn four.
Preterite Conjugation for ser (to be) and ir (to go)
|Yo fui||Nosotros fuimos|
|Tú fuiste||Ustedes fueron|
|Él, ella, usted fue||ellos, ellas fueron|
Te fuiste demasiado temprano. (IR)
You left too early.
Y siempre fueron felices. (SER)
And they were always happy.
Preterite Conjugation for dar (to give)
|Yo di||Nosotros dimos|
|Tú diste||Ustedes dieron|
|Él, ella, usted dio||ellos, ellas dieron|
Y nos dieron las diez.
And then, it was ten o’clock.
Preterite Conjugation for ver (to see)
|Yo vi||Nosotros vimos|
|Tú viste||Ustedes vieron|
|Él, ella, usted vio||ellos, ellas vieron|
Yo lo vi pero él no me vio.
I saw him but he did not see me.
Preterite Conjugation for haber (auxiliary to have)
|(Yo) hube||(Nosotros) hubimos|
|(Tú) hubiste||(Ustedes) hubieron|
|(Él, ella, usted) hubo||(ellos, ellas) hubieron|
Ni hubo tiempo para verlo.
There was no time to see it.
For the auxiliary verb haber, you’ll only need the third-person singular hubo.
Irregular Preterite Verb Practice
Now that you know all the types of irregular preterite verbs you should practice them to get used to their forms.
I know that just repeating the irregular conjugation doesn’t sound exciting but there are other ways to drill these verbs.
First, have a look at the following articles to practice preterite verbs in stories and different online exercises:
- Spanish Preterite vs Imperfect: 25 Online Exercises to Practice Your Skills
- Preterite and Imperfect: Reading and Practice in Story Form
- Tell Your Stories in Spanish Using the Preterite and Imperfect Tense [Audio]
Listen to the following songs. Their lyrics use different preterite verbs:
- Fuiste tú – Gaby Moreno y Ricardo Arjona
- Ayer – Gloria Estefan
- La historia de Juan – Juanes
Recommended reading: 12 Amazing Ways to Memorize Spanish Conjugations.
Irregular Preterite Verbs – Multiple Choice Quiz
Let’s see how much you remember about irregular preterite verbs in Spanish. The questions cover both theory and practical conjugation knowledge.
1. Do irregular preterite verbs have accents in their conjugation endings?
2. Do all the irregular preterite verbs conjugate in the same form?
3. The only way to learn irregular preterite verbs is by repeating them many times.
4. Ayer ______ salir pero no pude. (yo - querer)
5. Mi madre me ______ un regalo. (ella - dar)
6. No me ________ muy bien. (yo - organizar)
7. Me lo _______ mi tía. (ella - decir)
8. Ayer _______ de un perro. (yo - huir)
9. No te _______, lo siento. (yo - oír)
10. _______ suerte. (tú - tener)
Practice Irregular Preterite Verbs in a 1-to1 Conversation
When it comes to irregular verbs, theory is one thing, and conjugating these verbs easily in a spontaneous conversation with friends is another.
The most important thing is to stay motivated. What drives you to learn Spanish? Travel? Money? Friends? Love? Whatever it is, remember that more than 559 million people speak Spanish around the world. And the U.S. has the second-biggest population of Spanish speakers after Mexico! So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish, possibly even without crossing the borders.
To find abundant conversational opportunities, let Homeschool Spanish Academy help you achieve your language goals. Sign up for a free trial class and start learning Spanish irregular preterite verbs in a 1-to-1 conversation! Check out our affordable pricing and flexible programs!
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
“It’s a great way to learn Spanish, from native Spanish speakers in a 1-on-1 environment. It’s been fairly easy to schedule classes around my daughter’s other classes. The best value for us has been ordering multiple classes at a time. All the instructors have been great!”
– Cindy D, Parent of 3
“My Son, Heath, is taking the classes. He’s been with Luisa the entire time and we absolutely love her. She is always patient and is a great teacher. Heath’s dad speaks Spanish so they get to have little conversations.”
– William R, Parent of 3
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Erica P. Parent of 1
Ready to learn more Spanish grammar? Check these out!
- Connecting the Dots: Why Spanish Conjunctions Are Essential for Fluency
- Llegar vs Llevar in Spanish: What’s the Difference?
- 10 Essential Ways to Use “Que” in Spanish
- Solo vs Solamente: What’s the Difference?
- What Is an Infinitive in Spanish?
- How To Use the Spanish Verb ‘Parecer’
- Having Fun in Spanish Using the Verb ‘Divertirse’
- How to Use the ‘Personal A’ in Spanish: Do’s and Don’ts
- Spring into Spanish: Top Kids’ Songs for the Season - April 30, 2023
- Raising Multilingual Kids: Spanish Nannies Promoting Bilingualism - April 21, 2023
- 13 Ways To Mix Social Spanish Into Your Child’s Daily Routine - April 2, 2023