14 Spanish Tenses Explained Simply + Pro Tips To Learn Them With Conversation Based Chunking

Spanish is an easy language. Or is it?

The answer depends on your dedication, your previous experience, and also on the method you’re using to learn Spanish. We made a dedicated article on how long does it take to learn Spanish. And we’re also giving you the chance to learn Spanish with Conversation Based Chunking.

But what about the complexity of Spanish tenses? Don’t worry, you can learn that with this method, too.

First of all: Spring Spanish (a project I co-founded) made a complete overview of Spanish tenses, and you can check out that video right here, right now!

In this blog post, we’ll simply explain what you have to know about these Spanish tenses, and how you can learn them with Conversation Based Chunking.

What are Spanish tenses?

Effortless Answers

Tenses in Spanish, just like in English, are essential grammar tools used to describe and situate actions or states in time. They allow you to express when something happens (past, present, or future), they express certainty, desire, possibility, or even obligation connected to an action.

If you learn how to use Spanish tenses, you will be more fluent, you will engage in Spanish conversations and avoid being funny in Spanish. These are all the Spanish tenses with their English equivalents and use cases:

Spanish TenseEnglish EquivalentUse Case
PresentePresentDescribes actions that are currently happening, general truths, or habitual actions.
PretéritoPreteriteDescribes actions that were completed at a specific point in the past.
ImperfectoImperfectDescribes past actions that were ongoing or habitual.
FuturoFutureDescribes actions that will happen at a later time.
CondicionalConditionalIndicates what would happen under certain conditions.
Presente de SubjuntivoPresent SubjunctiveUsed for subjective actions or states, such as wishes, doubts, and recommendations.
Imperfecto de SubjuntivoImperfect SubjunctiveUsed in the same contexts as the present subjunctive but refers to past actions.
Pretérito PerfectoPresent PerfectDescribes actions that have occurred recently or have relevance to the present.
PluscuamperfectoPast PerfectDescribes actions that were completed before another action in the past.
Futuro PerfectoFuture PerfectDescribes actions that will have been completed by a certain point in the future.
Condicional PerfectoConditional PerfectDescribes actions that would have occurred but did not happen.
Pretérito Perfecto de SubjuntivoPresent Perfect SubjunctiveUsed for actions that may have recently occurred, often in the context of doubt or emotion.
Pluscuamperfecto de SubjuntivoPast Perfect SubjunctiveDescribes actions that are hypothetical and did not occur before another past action.
Futuro Perfecto de SubjuntivoFuture Perfect SubjunctiveRarely used; describes actions that will have been completed in the future under conditions.

To understand tenses in Spanish, you have to take different factors into account.

Here are the key considerations:

And with this knowledge, you can start using tenses in Spanish. Still, pay attention to verb endings, stem changes, irregular verbs, check the context clues to determine which time you’re talking about, and also, make sure the verb agrees in number and person with the subject.

Pro Tip to learn Spanish verb tenses and Spanish moods

You can speed up your language learning journey if you use the Conversation Based Chunking. This is a method that focuses on the common expressions and phrases (lexical chunks) in Spanish, instead of all the boring Spanish grammar rules.

If you learn Spanish tenses with this method, you will inevitably learn these tenses and verb conjugations automatically. No need to memorize vocabulary lists and grammar definitions.

So, what are you waiting for? Are you interested in learning Spanish with Conversation Based Chunking? It’s you chance now: click the button, and sign up for our email list to get all the information you need!

1. Present Tense (Presente)

The present tense is used to describe actions that are currently happening, general truths, or habitual actions.

Personal Pronoun + root + -o, -as, -a, -amos/emos/imos, -áis/éis/ís, -an/en

SpanishEnglish
Yo como pan.I eat bread.
Ella estudia en la universidad.She studies at the university.
Nosotros corremos en el parque.We run in the park.

Pro Tip: Learn common chunks like “Yo quiero” (I want) or “Ella necesita” (She needs) to recognize patterns and context in present tense usage.

2. Preterite Tense (Pretérito)

The preterite tense is used to describe actions that were completed at a specific point in the past.

Personal Pronoun + root + -é, -aste, -ó, -amos, -asteis, -aron (AR) Personal Pronoun + root + -í, -iste, -ió, -imos, -isteis, -ieron (ER/IR)

SpanishEnglish
Ayer, fuimos al cine.Yesterday, we went to the cinema.
Ella compró un coche nuevo.She bought a new car.
Ellos visitaron París el año pasado.They visited Paris last year.

Pro Tip: Practice phrases like “Ayer, yo fui” (Yesterday, I went) to get a feel for common past actions.

3. Imperfect Tense (Imperfecto)

The imperfect tense describes past actions that were ongoing or habitual.

Personal Pronoun + conjugated verb = Imperfecto

SpanishEnglish
Cuando era niño, jugaba con muñecos.When I was a child, I played with dolls.
Ella siempre leía antes de dormir.She always read before sleeping.
Nosotros vivíamos en España.We used to live in Spain.

Pro Tip: Memorize expressions like “cuando era niño” (when I was a child) to understand contexts where the imperfect tense is used.

4. Future Tense (Futuro)

The future tense describes actions that will happen at a later time.

Personal Pronoun + infinitive + -é, -ás, -á, -emos, -éis, -án

SpanishEnglish
Mañana viajaré a México.Tomorrow, I will travel to Mexico.
Ella estudiará medicina.She will study medicine.
Nosotros compraremos una casa.We will buy a house.

Pro Tip: Use phrases like “mañana” (tomorrow) to practice discussing future plans and actions.

5. Conditional Tense (Condicional)

The conditional tense indicates what would happen under certain conditions.

Personal Pronoun + infinitive + -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -íais, -ían

SpanishEnglish
Yo viajaría más si tuviera dinero.I would travel more if I had money.
Ella comería pero no tiene hambre.She would eat, but she isn’t hungry.
Nosotros viviríamos en la playa.We would live at the beach.

Pro Tip: Get used to chunks like “si tuviera” (if I had) to discuss hypothetical situations.

6. Present Subjunctive (Presente de Subjuntivo)

The present subjunctive is used for subjective actions or states, such as wishes, doubts, and recommendations.

Personal Pronoun + root + -e, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en (AR) Personal Pronoun + root + -a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an (ER/IR)

SpanishEnglish
Quiero que vengas a la fiesta.I want you to come to the party.
Es importante que estudies.It is important that you study.
Dudo que él lo sepa.I doubt that he knows it.

Pro Tip: Practice phrases like “quiero que” (I want that) to get more comfortable with the subjunctive mood.

spanish tenses illustrated on a timeline

7. Imperfect Subjunctive (Imperfecto de Subjuntivo)

The imperfect subjunctive is used in the same contexts as the present subjunctive but refers to past actions.

Personal Pronoun + third person plural preterite root + -ra, -ras, -ra, -ramos, -rais, -ran

SpanishEnglish
Si tuviera tiempo, iría contigo.If I had time, I would go with you.
Ella quería que él estudiara.She wanted him to study.
Dudaba que él viniera.I doubted that he would come.

Pro Tip: Learn chunks like “si tuviera” (if I had) to use in hypothetical past situations.

8. Present Perfect (Pretérito Perfecto)

The present perfect tense describes actions that have occurred recently or have relevance to the present.

Personal Pronoun + present indicative of “haber” + past participle

SpanishEnglish
He comido.I have eaten.
Ella ha estudiado.She has studied.
Nosotros hemos viajado.We have traveled.

Pro Tip: Memorize the phrase “he comido” (I have eaten) to talk about recent past actions.

9. Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto)

The past perfect tense is used to describe actions that were completed before another action in the past.

Personal Pronoun + imperfect of “haber” + past participle

SpanishEnglish
Ya había comido cuando él llegó.I had already eaten when he arrived.
Ella había terminado su tarea antes de la cena.She had finished her homework before dinner.
Nosotros habíamos visitado París antes del viaje a Londres.We had visited Paris before the trip to London.

Pro Tip: Use phrases like “ya había” (I had already) to describe actions completed before another past event.

10. Future Perfect (Futuro Perfecto)

The future perfect describes actions that will have been completed by a certain point in the future.

Personal Pronoun + future of “haber” + past participle

SpanishEnglish
Habré terminado el trabajo para mañana.I will have finished the work by tomorrow.
Ella habrá salido cuando llegues.She will have left when you arrive.
Nosotros habremos comido para entonces.We will have eaten by then.

Pro Tip: Learn chunks like “habré terminado” (I will have finished) to talk about future plans or deadlines.

11. Conditional Perfect (Condicional Perfecto)

The conditional perfect describes actions that would have occurred but did not happen.

Personal Pronoun + conditional of “haber” + past participle

SpanishEnglish
Yo habría viajado si tuviera tiempo.I would have traveled if I had time.
Ella habría estudiado más si no estuviera enferma.She would have studied more if she weren’t sick.
Nosotros habríamos llegado antes, pero hubo tráfico.We would have arrived earlier, but there was traffic.

Pro Tip: Practice “habría” (I would have) to discuss unrealized past actions.

12. Present Perfect Subjunctive (Pretérito Perfecto de Subjuntivo)

The present perfect subjunctive is used for actions that may have recently occurred, often in the context of doubt or emotion.

Personal Pronoun + present subjunctive of “haber” + past participle

SpanishEnglish
Espero que hayas comido.I hope that you have eaten.
Dudo que ella haya terminado.I doubt that she has finished.
Me alegra que hayas venido.I am glad that you have come.

Pro Tip: Remember phrases like “espero que” (I hope that) to express recent doubts or wishes.

13. Past Perfect Subjunctive (Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo)

The past perfect subjunctive describes actions that are hypothetical and did not occur before another past action.

Personal Pronoun + imperfect subjunctive of “haber” + past participle

SpanishEnglish
Si hubiera sabido, habría venido.If I had known, I would have come.
Ella deseaba que él hubiera estudiado más.She wished that he had studied more.
Nosotros esperábamos que hubieras terminado.We hoped that you had finished.

Pro Tip: Use expressions like “si hubiera” (if I had) to discuss unrealized past actions.

14. Future Perfect Subjunctive (Futuro Perfecto de Subjuntivo)

The future perfect subjunctive is rarely used in modern Spanish and often replaced by other tenses. It describes actions that will have been completed in the future under certain conditions.

Personal Pronoun + future subjunctive of “haber” + past participle (rarely used)

SpanishEnglish
Si hubiere terminado, empezaremos el proyecto.If he will have finished, we will start the project.
Ella estará contenta cuando hubiere recibido la noticia.She will be happy when she will have received the news.
Nosotros saldremos después de que hubiere llegado.We will leave after he will have arrived.

Pro Tip: This tense is rarely needed but can be learned through formal writings or older literature.

Practice Spanish tenses with a worksheet

Fill in the blanks with the correct verb forms – pay attention to the English sentences to know the Spanish tense!

You can practice more, if you want to! The only thing you have to do is click this button below, and sign up for our email list.

Learn Spanish tenses with FREE Spanish lessons based on the Conversation Based Chunking method

Yes, we understand that learning the Spanish tenses can seem a little bit overwhelming. There are different tenses and complex explanations for all of them. But we already mentioned the Conversation Based Chunking method, and it can simplify your language learning journey!

This method focuses on lexical chunks (common Spanish phrases and expressions), instead of grammar definitions to immerse yourself in the language by listening to Spanish podcasts, learn Spanish while driving, analysing basic Spanish textbooks and more! If you get closer to these chunks, you’ll naturally internalize them and their structure, so you won’t even have to think about the related grammar topics.

Conversation Based Chunking is a contextual learning method that will help you get better and be fluent in Spanish. If you want to learn more about this method, you can click now, and we’ll send you your first FREE Spanish Chunking Starter pack!

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