PolyTripper - Spanish Verb Tenses
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Regular / Irregular / Conjugations / Tenses

Spanish Verb Tenses

Present / el presente

Describes actions that are happening now. Anna llega a la puerta. Anna is arriving at the gate.

Expresses actions that take place regularly, in a habitual way, even if they are not occuring in the present. Normalmente, compro frutas en el supermercado. Usually I buy fruit at the supermarket.

Describes events that will take place in the near future. Este verano, viajo a Alemania. I will travel to Germany this summer.

Used when asking questions, especially when requesting someone's permission or opinion. ¿Bebes café o té? Do you drink coffee or tea?

Preterite / el pretérito

Describes an action that happened in the past, didn't take much time and is now completed. Le conocí en Madrid. I met him in Madrid.

Describes an action that was completed at a definite, specific moment in the past. Mi hermana regresó a las cuatro. My sister came back at four o'clock.

Imperfect / el imperfecto

Describes people or states of indefinite duration in the past, with no reference to beginning or end. Le conocía bien. I knew him well.

Describes actions in the past that took place on a regular basis, that were repeated, or were habitual or customary.
Yo veía a mis hermanas todas las semanas. I used to see my sisters every week.

Describes continuing or ongoing conditions or actions in the passed. El teatro tenía dos salidas. The theater had two exits.

Conditional / el condicional

Used to indicate the probability of a future action from the perspective of a past action. Maria dijo que vendría. Maria said she would come.

Used to indicate hypothetical actions or events that may or may not happen in the future. Claro que iríamos a Roma. Of course we would go to Rome.

Expresses hypothetical actions or events which may or may not happen in the present. Sería conveniente salir pronto. It would be convenient to go out soon.

Future / el futuro

Indicates actions or events that will happen or are likely to happen at a future time. La fiesta será el viernes. The party will be on Friday

To express a supposition or probability in the present. Equivalent to English expressions like I wonder, must be, probably or can. Estaremos a diez millas de Madrid. We must be ten miles away from Madrid. ¿Cuánto costará ese bolso tan bonito? I wonder how much that beautiful bag costs

Imperative / el imperativo

Used to tell someone to do something. The commands can be both orders (do this!) or the expression of a wish (let's do this!).

¡Compre los libros! Buy the books!

¡Vuelvan pronto! Return quickly!

¡Trabajemos juntos! Let's work together!

The negative imperative expresses negative orders. The conjugations are the same as those of the present subjunctive.

¡No vuelvas a decir eso! Don't say that again!

¡No comas en ese restaurante! Don't eat in that restaurant!

Present Subjunctive / el presente de subjuntivo

Used to communicate attitudes, feelings, or emotions about a subject that is different from the one in the main clause.
Includes verbs like: alegrar(se) (to be glad), enojarse (to be angry), estar contento (to be glad), molestar(se) (to get annoyed), sentir (to regret), temer (to fear), desear (to wish), esperar (to hope), insistir (to insist), preferir (to prefer), querer (to want), pedir (to ask), rogar (to beg) and suplicar (to plead), maravillar(se) (to marvel), sorprender(se) (to be surprised).

Sentimos que ustedes no puedan venir a cenar. We regret that you cannot come to dinner.

Teme que yo gane. He fears that I will win.

Los empleados esperan que el jefe apruebe el aumento de sueldo. The employees hope that their boss will approve a raise.

Pide que devuelvas el libro a tiempo. She asks that you return the book on time.

Nos sorprende que el presidente no reciba la aprobación del Senado. We are surprised that the president does not have the approval of the Senate.

Imperfect Subjunctive / el pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo

Used like the subjunctive present, in cases where the independent clause is in the imperfect, preterit, conditional or pluperfect.

Los agentes no permitían que los ciudadanos protestasen en el parque. (imperfect) The officers didn't allow the citizens to protest in the park.

La policía arrestó a tres de los manifestantes antes de que llegaran al aeropuerto. (preterit) The police arrested three of the demonstrators before they arrived at the airport.

Yo preferiría que tú leyeras el periódico después.(conditional) I would prefer that you read the newspaper later.

La mujer había exigido que la congresista la escuchara. (pluperfect) The woman had demanded that the congresswoman hear her.

Gerund / el gerundio

Also known as present participle. Used to express continuous actions (running, walking, crying). In Spanish it always ends with -ndo, in English with -ing.

¿Irás caminando o en auto? Will you go walking or by car?

Ando buscando trabajo. I am looking for a job.

Los huéspedes, esperando pacientemente en la fila, hablan del tiempo. The guests, waiting patiently in line, talk about the weather.

Participle / el participio

Also known as past participle. It is used in combination with the verb haber to form the present and past perfect tenses.
The present perfect tense is used for actions:

that were initiated in the past that are continuing into the present. Hemos vivido aquí por más de diez años. We have lived here for over ten years.

that were completed at a recent moment in time. El correo ha llegado. The mail has arrived.

The past perfect tense is used for actions:

that were completed in the past before other actions or events. La fiesta había comenzado. The party had begun.

Paula había salido cuando yo entré. Paula had left when I arrived.