The Present Tense (Part 2)

       

In The Present Tense (Part 1) we studied the basics of conjugating in the present tense including endings, stem changers, "-go" verbs, "-zco" verbs, and a few important irregulars. As complicated as all of that was, there is still more to discuss about present tense verb conjugations. Most of this lesson focuses on spelling changes and accent marks.

Yo Form Spelling Changes

Due to the fact that the "-o" ending in the yo form reacts differently with certain letters than the other present tense endings starting with "-e" or "-i," we occasionally need to make a "orthographic change" in the stem. That's a fancy way of saying we spell things differently. Now normally a change in spelling means a change in pronunciation, but in these cases we're actually trying to keep pronunciation the same.

For example, when a "c" is followed by an "e" or an "i" it is pronounced like an "s." But if we were to add the typical yo form ending, "-o," this would no longer be the case; the "c" would be pronounced like a a "k." So to solve problems like this and to keep the pronunciation of the infinitive and their conjugations consistent, we often make slight changes to the spellings of the stems.

(It just so happens that since the "-o" ending is the only one that causes any problems, all of these spelling changes only apply to the yo form conjugations.)

Yo Form Spelling Changes: -cer/-cir → zo

Note: Verbs that end in a consonant followed by "-cer" or "-cir" are "-zo" spelling changers.

For "-cer" and "-cir" verbs that don't already belong in the "-zco" category, we change the "c" to a "z" in order to keep the "s" sound when conjugating in the yo form. Vencer (to defeat) is a good example:

vencer (c→z):

venzo

vencemos

vences

vencéis

vence

vencen

Yo Form Spelling Changes: -ger/-gir → jo

In order to preserve the "h" sound when conjugating "-ger" and "-gir" verbs in the yo form, we change the "g" to a "j." Take dirigir (to direct) for example:

dirigir (g→j):

dirijo

dirigimos

diriges

dirigís

dirige

dirigen

Yo Form Spelling Changes: -guir → go

For "-guir" verbs, the "u" keeps the "g" from being pronounced like an "h" when it's followed by "e" and "i." Since the yo form ends in an "o," the "u" is no longer necessary. Check out the conjugations of distinguir (to distinguish):

distinguir (gu→g):

distingo

distinguimos

distingues

distinguís

distingue

distinguen

Yo Form Spelling Changes: -quir → co

The the "qu" in "-quir" verbs is normally pronounced like a "k." If, however, we followed the "qu" with an "o," we'd end up with a "kwo" sound (instead of "ko"). To prevent this, we change the "qu" to a "c." Take relinquir (to relinquish) for example:

relinquir (qu→c):

relinco

relinquimos

relinques

relinquís

relinque

relinquen

Other Spelling Changes: -uir → uy

There are some spelling changes which don't involve the yo form. We add a "y" to some conjugations of "-uir" verbs in order to ease pronunciation. These aren't considered stem changing verbs, but notice how they follow the same pattern. Take influir (to influence) for example. Notice how the "y" makes the verbs easier to say:

influir (i→y):

influyo

influimos

influyes

influís

influye

influyen

This "y" trick is not used with "-guir" verbs or "-quir" verbs because the "u" is not actually pronounced.

Other Irregular Present Tense Verbs

Strange Stem Changers

The next three verbs would probably feel at home in the stem changing section, but they are each unique. Adquirir (to acquire) is the only i→ie stem changing verb you'll encounter, jugar (to play) is the only u→ue stem changing verb, and oler (to smell) is a strange o→hue stem changer. Notice how they each follow the typical stem changing pattern:

adquirir (i→ie):

jugar (u→ue):

oler (o→hue):

adquiero

adquirimos

adquieres

adquirís

adquiere

adquieren

juego

jugamos

juegas

jugáis

juega

juegan

huelo

olemos

hueles

oléis

huele

huelen

Completely Irregular Present Tense Verbs

And some verb conjugations don't follow any rules or patterns and are completely irregular. You'll just have to memorize the conjugations. Ir (to go) and ser (to be) are two such verbs:

ir:

ser:

voy

vamos

vas

vais

va

van

soy

somos

eres

sois

es

son

Notice that there are no accent marks in the vosotros form.

Verbs with Irregular Accent Marks

Lastly, some present tense verbs follow the conjugation rules for the most part but have some irregularities involving accent marks.

Verbs with Irregular Accent Marks: Estar

The verb estar (to be) has some accent mark irregularities. The stress falls on the last syllable of most conjugations which is different from the average verb. The yo form conjugation is also irregular:

estar:

estoy

estamos

estás

estáis

está

están

Note: These accent marks help to distinguish conjugations of estar from similar looking demonstrative adjectives.

Verbs with Irregular Accent Marks: Reír, Oír

Speaking of accent marks, the infinitives reír (to laugh) and oír (to hear) both feature accent marks. And they both have some irregularities in their conjugations. First of all, we can almost treat reír as an e→í stem changing verb, except for the fact that we also need an accent in the nosotros form. Oír is similar, but that's difficult to see because it is also a "-go" verb and gets an additional "y" in some conjugations like "-uir" verbs:

Note: Sonreír (to smile) is conjugated following the same pattern as reír.

reír (e→í):

oír:

río

reímos

ríes

reís

ríe

ríen

oigo

oímos

oyes

oís

oye

oyen

Verbs with Irregular Accent Marks: -iar→í, -uar→ú

Some "-iar" and "-uar" verbs have accent marks pop up in their conjugations. The reason for this is somewhat complicated but the bottom line is pronunciation. The verbs enviar (to send) and evaluar (to evaluate) are good examples. Notice how the accent marks follow the stem change pattern.

enviar (i→í):

evaluar (u→ú):

envío

enviamos

envías

enviáis

envía

envían

evalúo

evaluamos

evalúas

evaluáis

evalúa

evalúan

Other "-iar" verbs that are conjugated like enviar:

ampliar (to amplify)
confiar (to trust)

criar (to raise)
espiar (to spy)

fiar (to sell)
variar (to vary)

Other "-uar" verbs that are conjugated like evaluar:

acentuar (to accentuate)
continuar (to continue)
actuar (to act)

graduar (to graduate)
habituar (to inhabit)

situar (to situate)
valuar (to value)

Verbs with Irregular Accent Marks: One Syllable Vosotros Conjugations

Normally the endings for vosotros conjugations are: "-áis," "-éis," and "-ís," all with accents. But when we have short, one syllable conjugations like we do with dar or ver, the accent is unnecessary. The stress naturally falls on that vowel anyway. For example:

infinitive:

 

vosotros form:

dar (to give)
ver (to see)
ir (to go)



dais
veis
vais

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