How To Conjugate Irregular Verbs In Spanish: Ultimate Guide + Examples

Learning how to conjugate and use Spanish verbs can be tricky for English-speaking students because the verb conjugation is more complex.

Of the several thousand verbs that Spanish possesses, over 250 are irregular. They don’t follow the regular conjugation pattern: some have stem changes and some completely change their pronunciation!

But don’t worry! You don’t need to learn them all by heart! 🙂

You can also check out this video from Spring Spanish YouTube Channel to learn these conjugations without a conjugation table and with the help of lexical chunks!

Just follow the teacher’s guide to boost your fluency and other language skills!

Today, we’ll learn the most common irregular verbs in Spanish, the types of irregularity that they present, and how to conjugate them.

1. Spanish Verbs 101: How The Regular Verb Conjugation Works In Spanish Grammar

To understand the difference between regular and irregular verbs, we need to know what pattern the regular verbs follow.

Spanish verbs are conjugated in all tenses according to their infinitive verb endings.

Spanish presents three different infinitive endings: -ar, -er, and -ir, added to a stem of the verb:

  • -ar
    • am-ar (to love)
  • -er
    • tem-er (to be afraid of)
  • -ir
    • part-ir (to leave)

To conjugate them in the different past, present, and future tenses of all moods, we just drop the infinitive form, and add a new ending depending on the person and the tense we want to use.

2. The Most Common Spanish Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs in Spanish can be of different types, but don’t freak out!

Even they tend to follow the same pattern in some cases.

Irregular verbs spanish bookshelves

We’ll shortly dive in to learn more about them but first, let’s check out the most common verbs that are essential to know.

Let’s take a look and try to memorize them!

The Most Common Irregular Verbs in Spanish

serto be
haberto have 
estarto be
tenerto have
hacerto do, make
poderto be able, can
decirto say, tell
irto go
verto see
darto give
saberto know (information)
quererto want, love
llegarto arrive, come, reach
ponerto put, place, set
parecerto seem, appear
creerto believe
seguirto follow, continue
encontrarto find, encounter
venirto come
pensarto think
salirto leave, go out
volverto return, go back
conocerto know
sentirto feel, regret
contarto count, relate, tell
dormirto sleep
traerto bring
pedirto ask for, request
leerto read
jugarto play (games or sports)
oírto hear
caerto fall, drop
conocerto know (people or places)
construirto build, construct
conducirto drive
correrto run
deberto owe; should; must; ought to

If you want to communicate effectively in Spanish, it’s important to find the best way to learn Spanish irregular verbs. You can use Brainscape flashcards for faster learning: no matter how weird an irregular verb is, it’ll be easier to learn it with a flashcard. 

It’s not as scary as it sounds!

3. Spanish Irregular Verbs By Category: Stem-changing Verbs

You’ll notice that irregular verbs don’t follow the same changes as regular verbs.

Conjugation rules are different for irregular verbs and although it might seem confusing at first, they are extremely common in everyday situations. Thus, you just have to take a look at the most important verb changes!

Here are some verbs that change the stem from:

-e to -ie (pensar)

Present IndicativePresent SubjunctiveImperative
YO piensopiense
TÚ piensaspiensespiensa
ÉL/ELLA/USTED piensapiense
NOSOTROS/NOSOTRAS pensamospensemospensemos
VOSOTROS/VOSOTRAS pensáispenséispensad
USTEDES piensanpiensenpiensen
ELLOS/ELLAS piensanpiensen

Other examples: mentir, empezar, comenzar, convertir, hervir, fregar, convenir, sentirse, despertarse.

-o to -ue (dormir)

Present IndicativePresent SubjunctiveImperative
YO duermoduerma
ÉL/ELLA/USTED duermeduerma
NOSOTROS/NOSOTRAS dormimosdurmamosdurmamos
VOSOTROS/VOSOTRAS dormísdurmáisdormid
USTEDES duermenduermanduerman
ELLOS/ELLAS duermenduerman

Other examples: volar, almorzar, acordarse, doler, encontrar, acostarse, volver, mover, recordar, poder, morir.

-u to -ue (jugar)

Present IndicativePresent SubjunctiveImperative
YO juegojuegue
ÉL/ELLA/USTED juegajuegue
NOSOTROS/NOSOTRAS jugamosjuguemosjuguemos
VOSOTROS/VOSOTRAS jugáisjuguéisjugad
USTEDES jueganjueguenjueguen
ELLOS/ELLAS jueganjueguen

Jugar is the only verb that is conjugated in this way, and the irregularity applies to the present indicative mood, present subjunctive and imperative mood.

The exception is the third-person singular form and “vosotros”.

-e to -i (decir)

Present IndicativePresent SubjunctiveImperativePast Simple
YO digodigadije
ÉL/ELLA/USTED dicedigadijo
NOSOTROS/NOSOTRAS decimosdigamosdigamosdijimos
VOSOTROS/VOSOTRAS decísdigáisdeciddijisteis
USTEDES dicendigandigandijeron
ELLOS/ELLAS dicendigandijeron

Other examples: reír, repetir, corregir, freír, elegir, servir, vestirse, sonreír, pedir.

-i to -ie (adquirir)

Present IndicativePresent SubjunctiveImperative
YO adquieroadquiera
ÉL/ELLA/USTED adquiereadquiera
NOSOTROS/NOSOTRAS adquirimosdigamosadquiramos
VOSOTROS/VOSOTRAS adquirísadquiráisadquirid
USTEDES adquierenadquieranadquieran
ELLOS/ELLAS adquierenadquieran

Only two verbs fall into this category: adquirir and inquirir.

4. Practice Section – Complete The Following Sentences With The Correct Form Of The Irregular Verbs In Spanish!

Let’s practice irregular verbs in Spanish!

Irregular verbs Spanish kicking a football
Jugar is also an irregular verb in Spanish

I. Please, conjugate the verb appropriately:

Now, this exercise might not be enough and you need to practice more Spanish grammar. Luckily, we have a whole section of Full Practice Worksheets available just for you if you click the button below!

After signing up, you’ll get access to the Full Practice Worksheet not just for irregular verbs but also for exercising indirect object pronouns in Spanish, Spanish conditionals, adjectives in Spanish and a lot more.

Don’t miss your chance!

5. Learn More About Common Irregular Spanish Verbs With Conversation Based Chunking

You’ve learned a lot about irregular verbs in Spanish.

But to master them, you need to practice them in real conversations!

That’s why we recommend Conversation Based Chunking, a method that helps you learn Spanish faster and easier.

Click down below to get access to the CBC Starter Pack and discover how to speak Spanish with confidence and fun. 

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