Maestro Spanish

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The Easiest Spanish Verb Tenses

When learning and practicing Spanish, beginning students start to feel frustrated early on, and understandably so!

The present tense has its share of irregular verbs, but then you get to preterite, which has just as many. It feels like it will never end.

There is finally a little glimmer of hope when you see imperfect and its handful of irregulars, but then you realize that you have to figure out when to use the irregular versus when to use the preterite! Gaaaah!

But then you get to my favorite tenses. They are my favorite because they are so easy, and they come at the perfect time to give you faith that you can do this.

They are, of course, the future tense, and the future conditional tense. Why are they so easy? Because there are only twelve irregular verbs, they are the same for both tenses, and the endings don't change at all, only the stem!

Here is the list of verbs and the new stem for each. Remember, the stem, or root, is what you add the conjugation endings onto:

Verb Stem
caber cabr-
poner pondr-
decir dir-
haber habr-
salir saldr-
hacer har-
poder podr-
tener tendr-
querer querr-
valer valdr-
saber sabr-
venir vendr-

Most of these changes are meant to accomodate awkward pronunciation. Let's look at the conjugation table for future to see why:

Pronoun Conjugation
Yo hablaré
Él/Ella/Ud. hablará
Nosotros hablaremos
Vosotros hablaréis
Ellos/Ellas/Uds hablarán

If we tried to conjugate tener normally, we would get yo teneré. Try saying this really quickly, with your best Spanish accent. What happens? It eventually starts to sound more like yo tendré, which is the correct conjugation.

Let's look at the table for conditional:

Pronoun Conjugation
Yo hablaría
Él/Ella/Ud. hablaría
Nosotros hablaríamos
Vosotros hablaríais
Ellos/Ellas/Uds hablarían

Even easier than regular future!

And if that's not easy enough for you, in casual conversation, you don't even need to use the future tense all that often. Instead, you can just use the construction Ir + verb, so for example,

"We will buy a car." -> Vamos a comprar un carro.

In English you could translate that as, "We are going to buy a car." Another example:

"I will take a picture." -> Voy a sacar una photo.

That's it! If you are feeling frustrated, I hope this helps you realize that it's not all bad.