Present Tense in Spanish Grammar

What is the presente de indicativo in Spanish?

The present indicative or el presente/el presente de indicativo is similar to the simple present tense in English grammar. We use this to tense to speak about actions in the present and near future. It describes routine or repeated actions as well as permanent situations.

Learn the conjugation patterns for regular and irregular verbs in the present tense and when to use it. In the exercises, you can test your knowledge. See subjunctive tenses for information on the conjugation and usage of the present subjunctive. In tense comparison, you will find an overview of all the tenses in Spanish grammar.

Example

Zeichnung

Este es Manolo. Cada martes juega al fútbol. Juega al fútbol desde hace cinco años.

El próximo domingo su equipo participa en un campeonato.

How to use the present tense in Spanish grammar

We use the Spanish simple present tense for:

  • facts or conditions in the present
    Example:
    Este es Manolo.This is Manolo.
  • routine or repeated actions in the present
    Example:
    Cada martes juega al fútbol.Every Tuesday he plays football.
  • to express how long something has been going on
    Example:
    Juega al fútbol desde hace cinco años.He’s been playing football for five years.
  • future actions, but only with a corresponding indication of the future time
    Example:
    El próximo domingo su equipo participa en un campeonato.Next Sunday, his team is taking part in a competition.

How to conjugate the present tense in Spanish

To conjugate the Spanish present tense, we remove the infinitive endings -ar, -er or -ir and add the following endings to the word stem. The table below provides an overview of present indicative endings for regualr -ar, -er and -ir verbs in Spanish:

Person -ar -er -ir
Endings hablar Endings aprender Endings vivir
yo -o hablo -o aprendo -o vivo
-as hablas -es aprendes -es vives
él/ella/usted -a habla -e aprende -e vive
nosotros/-as -amos hablamos -emos aprendemos -imos vivimos
vosotros/-as -áis habláis -éis aprendéis -is vivis
ellos/ellas/ustedes -an hablan -en aprenden -en viven

Reflexive Verbs

Spanish reflexive verbs are conjugated with a reflexive pronoun. Choosing which reflexive pronoun depends on the subject; we need to know which person (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and whether it is singular or plural. The reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, os, se) always comes before the verb.

Example:
llamarseMe llamo Casandra.My name is Casandra.

Irregular verbs in the Spanish present tense

Some of the most common Spanish verbs are irregular.

Person ser estar ir oir oler
yo soy estoy voy oigo huelo
eres estás vas oyes hueles
él/ella/usted es está va oye huele
nosotros/-as somos estamos vamos oímos olemos
vosotros/-as sois estáis vais oís oléis
ellos/ellas/ustedes son están van oyen huelen

Exceptions

Exceptions in the 1st person singular

The following verbs are only irregular in the 1st person singular form. They are conjugated like regular verbs in all other persons.

  • Some verbs add a -g before the ending in the 1st person singular and some change their word stems when this happens.
Infinitive 1st person singular Translation
asir asgo grab, grasp
caer caigo fall
dar doy give
decir digo say
hacer hago do
poner pongo set, place
saber know
salir salgo go out, leave
tener tengo have, possess
traer traigo bring
valer valgo to be worth
venir vengo come
ver veo see
  • In order to preserve the pronunciation, we have to change the last consonant of the word stem for some -er/-ir verbs in the 1st person singular.
    Example:
    c becomes z → mecercradle, rock - mezo
    g becomes j → cogertake, lift - cojo
    gu becomes g → distinguirdistinguish - distingo
    qu becomes c → delinquircommit (a crime) - delinco
  • For verbs that end in -ducir or with a vowel + cer, we add a -z before the -c in the 1st person singular. The exceptions to this are the verbs hacer, mecer, and cocer.

    Example:
    traducirtranslate - traduzco
    conocerknow - conozco
    but:
    hacermake - hago
    mecercradle, rock - mezo
    cocercook - cuezo

Verbs with vowel changes

  • For some verbs, the root vowel changes (-e → -i/-ie, -o → -ue) in the singular forms and in the 3rd person plural.
    Example:
    e becomes i → servirserve - sirvo, sirves, sirve, servimos, servís, sirven
    e becomes ie → cerrarclose - cierro, cierras, cierra, cerramos, cerráis, cierran
    o becomes ue → recordarremember - recuerdo, recuerdas, recuerda, recordamos, recordáis, recuerdan
  • For many verbs that end in -iar or -uar, as well as prohibir and reunir, we add an accent to the -i or -u in the singular forms and in the 3rd person plural.
    Example:
    espiarspy - espío, espías, espía, espiamos, espiáis, espían
    actuaract - actúo, actúas, actúa, actuamos, actuáis, actúan
    prohibirforbid - prohíbo, prohíbes, prohíbe, prohibimos, prohibís, prohíben
    reunirgather - reúno, reúnes, reúne, reunimos, reunís, reúnen
  • For verbs ending in -uir, we add a -y before endings that don’t start with -i.
    Example:
    sustituirsubstitute - sustituyo, sustituyes, sustituye, sustituimos, sustituís, sustituyen