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Video:Learn Spanish: Common Irregular Verbs in Preterite

with Milo De Prieto

Learn some common patterns to help make conjugating irregular verbs in preterite tense in Spanish easier. Here are tips for conjugating irregular verbs in preterite.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn Spanish: Common Irregular Verbs in Preterite

Hola, I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about some common irregular verbs in preterite tense in Spanish. While these verbs are called irregular, you'll notice that they still follow some helpful patterns.

Dar and Ver Are Two Very Irregular Verbs in Preterite

The preterite has quite a few verbs you'll simply need to memorize, such as dar and ver. But see how similar they are and easy to remember:

  • yo di: I gave
  • tú diste: you (informal) gave
  • usted dio: you (formal) gave / él/ella dio: he, she gave
  • nosotros dimos: we gave
  • vosotros disteis: you (plural Spain informal) gave
  • ustedes dieron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) gave / ellos/ellas dieron: they gave

Ver:

  • yo vi: I saw
  • tú viste: you (informal) saw
  • usted vio: you (formal) saw / él/ella vio: he, she saw
  • nosotros vimos: we saw
  • vosotros visteis: you (plural Spain informal) saw
  • ustedes vieron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) saw / ellos/ellas vieron: they saw

Ser and Ir Are Identical Irregular Verbs in Preterite

Another set that you’ll have to memorize is ser and ir, but they are identical in this tense, making it much easier. Check our videos on each of these four verbs for more information:

  • yo fui: I was/went
  • tú fuiste: you (informal) were/went
  • usted fue: you (formal) were/went / él/ella fue: he, she was/went
  • nosotros fuimos: we were/went
  • vosotros fuisteis: you (plural Spain informal) were/went
  • ustedes fueron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) were/went / ellos/ellas fueron: they were/went

Preterite Verbs Irregular Only in First Person Singular

There are some verbs that are only irregular in the first person singular, yo, form. They do this for the sake of the sound they make, such as some -ar ending verbs like:

  • Verbs that end in -gar change g to gu
  • Verbs that end in -car change c to qu
  • Verbs that end in -zar change z to c

For example:

  • Pagar - to pay -- yo pagué (I paid)
  • Buscar - to look -- yo busqué (I looked)
  • Comenzar - to begin -- yo comencé (I began)

Irregular Verbs in Preterite That Change Both Stem and Ending

In the preterite verbs can simultaneously change both their stems and their endings irregularly. That said, there are patterns that makes these easier to remember. Again, for more in-depth information, check out our videos on each of these verbs. For instance, after changing their roots the following verbs use this alternative set of endings.

  • Estar - to be
  • Tener - to have
  • Saber - to know
  • Hacer - to do

Notice how similar it is to the regular set of preterite endings for -er and -ir verbs, although not only does it lack the accents, but some irregular -ar ending verbs change their stem and use this as well:

  • -e
  • -iste
  • -o
  • -imos
  • -isteis
  • -ieron

Examples of Irregular Verbs in Preterite That Change Both Stem and Ending

Estar:

  • yo estuve: I was
  • tú estuviste: you (informal) were
  • usted estuvo: you (formal) were / él/ella estuvo: he, she was
  • nosotros estuvimos: we were
  • vosotros estuvisteis: you (plural Spain informal) were
  • ustedes estuvieron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) were / ellos/ellas estuvieron: they were

Tener:

  • yo tuve: I had
  • tú tuviste: you (informal) had
  • usted tuvo: you (formal) had / él/ella tuvo: he, she had
  • nosotros tuvimos: we had
  • vosotros tuvisteis: you (plural Spain informal) had
  • ustedes tuvieron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) had / ellos/ellas tuvieron: they had

More Irregular Verbs in Preterite That Change Stem and Ending

Saber:

  • yo supe: I knew
  • tú supiste: you (informal) knew
  • usted supo: you (formal) knew / él/ella supo: he, she knew
  • nosotros supimos: we knew
  • vosotros supisteis: you (plural Spain informal) knew
  • ustedes supieron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) knew / ellos/ellas supieron: they knew

Hacer:

  • yo hice: I did
  • tú hiciste: you (informal) did
  • usted hizo: you (formal) did / él/ella hizo: he, she did
  • nosotros hicimos: we did
  • vosotros hicisteis: you (plural Spain informal) did
  • ustedes hicieron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) did / ellos/ellas hicieron: they did

Notice how hacer changes even more here.

Another Ending for Some Irregular Verbs in Preterite

Here is another alternative set of endings for some some preterite verbs:

  • -je
  • -jiste
  • -jo
  • -jimos
  • -jisteis
  • -jeron

Some verbs that use this set are:

  • decir - to say, which also changes its stem
  • traer - to bring
  • conducir - to drive

Examples of This Irregular Verb Ending in Preterite

Decir:

  • yo dije: I said
  • tú dijiste: you (informal) said
  • usted dijo: you (formal) said / él/ella dijo: he, she said
  • nosotros dijimos: we said
  • vosotros dijisteis: you (plural Spain informal) said
  • ustedes dijeron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) said / ellos/ellas dijeron: they said

Traer:

  • yo traje: I brought
  • tú trajiste: you (informal) brought
  • usted trajo: you (formal) brought / él/ella trajo: he, she brought
  • nosotros trajimos: we brought
  • vosotros trajisteis: you (plural Spain informal) brought
  • ustedes trajeron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) brought / ellos/ellas trajeron: they brought

Conducir:

  • yo conduje: I said
  • tú condujiste: you (informal) said
  • usted condujo: you (formal) said / él/ella condujo: he, she said
  • nosotros condujimos: we said
  • vosotros condujisteis: you (plural Spain informal) said
  • ustedes condujeron: you (plural Latin America, Spain formal) said / ellos/ellas condujeron: they said

As you continuing practicing these differences will become second nature to you. For more information on Spanish, check us out at About.com.

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