Present Tense Spanish: When and How to Talk About Now

The player kicks the ball - present tense Spanish

The Spanish present tense is the most fundamental verb tense that language learners need to be comfortable with. Also known as the present indicative, Spanish uses this tense in several very common contexts. Consequently, it is one of the most frequently-used tenses in written and oral expression.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about present tense Spanish. We’ll start off with the various contexts where the simple present tense is used, and then we’ll get into present tense conjugation. And of course we’ll include plenty of simple present tense examples to demonstrate each lesson, and provide a bunch of Spanish verb lists as we learn each conjugation. Let’s dive in!

When to Use Present Tense Spanish

Present indicative Spanish, known in Spanish as “presente simple,” is considered an “unmarked” verb tense. This means that although its use technically refers to the present moment, it can also be used in a number of temporal situations which may not always correspond exactly to the present. Let’s take a look at the various timeframes where we can use the Spanish present tense.

Actions that occur regularly

This is definitely the most common use of the simple present tense. It expresses situations that occur regularly, but which aren’t necessarily taking place at the moment of speaking. It comes in handy when talking about daily routines or habits.

  • Roberto gets up at 6am and goes to bed at 10pm. – Roberto se levanta a las 06:00 de la mañana y se acuesta a las 10:00 de la noche.
  • My brother sleeps 8 hours a day. – Mi hermano duerme 8 horas diarias.
  • We always eat arepas and scrambled eggs for breakfast. –  Siempre desayunamos arepas y huevos revueltos.
  • Leo and his girlfriend work out three days a week. – Leo y su novia hacen ejercicio tres días a la semana.
  • I play soccer every Sunday. – Juego fútbol todos los domingos.

Actions occurring at the present moment

By definition, the simple present tense refers to the present moment, right? To put it simply, with this use of the present indicative, the action is taking place at the moment the speaker expresses it.

  • Your room is messy. Clean it! – Tu habitación está desordenada. ¡Límpiala!
  • The dog barks at the postman. – El perro le ladra al cartero.
  • Laura reads a book while her husband drives. – Laura lee un libro mientras su marido conduce.
  • Juan habla con un amigo. – Juan talks with a friend.

Note that in many contexts describing what is ongoing at the current moment, however, Spanish has an equivalent to the English -ing words like “the dog is barking” or “Laura is reading.” Check out our dedicated post on present progressive Spanish for a full explanation.

Traits of people or things

We use present indicative Spanish when we describe characteristics of people or objects which don’t really change over time.

  • Camila has brown eyes. – Camila tiene ojos marrones.
  • The table is made of mahogany. – La mesa es de caoba.
  • These shoes are way too expensive. – Esos zapatos están carísimos.
  • That house has huge windows. – Esa casa tiene ventanas enormes.
  • This car costs $4000. – Este auto cuesta 4000 dólares.


Similarly to the previous use, we also use present indicative Spanish to express well-known facts or truths that don’t change over time.

  • Water freezes at 0°. – El agua se congela a 0°.
  • Oil floats on water because of its lower density. – El aceite flota sobre el agua porque tiene una densidad más baja.
  • Two times two equals four. – Dos por dos es igual a cuatro.
  • The earth revolves around the sun in 365 days. – La Tierra gira alrededor del Sol en 365 días.

Future actions that we know will happen

When we know an action will occur soon, we have the option of using present tense Spanish to talk about it. Similarly to English, we have the option of expressing these future events in the present tense, even when it may also be correct to use a future tense. Consider this use with these examples:

  • The flight to Santiago departs at 3:00. – El vuelo a Santiago sale a las tres.
  • The store opens next Friday. – La tienda abre el próximo viernes.
  • What time does the train arrive in Madrid? – ¿A qué hora llega el tren a Madrid?
  • Next month I have my driving test. Wish me luck! – Tengo mi examen de conducir el mes que viene. ¡Deséame suerte!

Historical actions

This use of present indicative Spanish is primarily reserved for describing historical events from the past. Think of it as a narration of history where we nonetheless use the simple present tense, even though we’re referring to events that happened long ago. This use of the Spanish present tense is mainly used to describe important historical events, mostly in documentaries, history books, magazines, or newspaper headlines.

  • Columbus discovers America on October 12, 1492. – Colón descubre América el 12 de octubre de 1492.
  • Simón Bolívar achieves Venezuela’s independence in 1821. – Simón Bolívar logra la independencia de Venezuela en el año 1821.
  • Man lands on the moon in 1969. – El hombre llega a la Luna en 1969.
  • Steve Jobs announces the first generation iPhone in January 2007. – Steve Jobs anuncia la primera generación de iPhone en enero de 2007.

Spanish Present Tense Conjugation

To use present tense Spanish, we need to learn how to conjugate our verbs correctly. This simple present tense is generally the first that language learners start using, so we’ll take some time here to explain the very basics of Spanish verb conjugation.

Fortunately, nearly all Spanish verbs fall into three regular categories: -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs. Within these three sets of conjugations, most verbs follow very regular rules within each of these three categories, so once we introduce the format you should be able to start conjugating similar verbs the same way.

After we see the Spanish conjugations for regular verbs, we’ll look at the irregular verb conjugations. Don’t panic! Even with most of the irregular verbs, the conjugations are still pretty close to the regular verb rules, with just a few types of changes that become the rules for these subgroups of irregular verbs.

A few important Spanish verbs are nonetheless so irregular that their conjugations don’t follow any regular rules. These ones just need to be memorized as-is, so we’ll show you the conjugation chart for each of them at the end.

Let’s get started learning how to conjugate verbs in Spanish!

Regular Spanish verb conjugation

Regular Spanish verbs follow a pretty simple formula for present tense conjugation: Spanish infinitives generally end in either -ar, -er, or -ir, so our first step is to simply drop this ending to get the verb’s stem. From the verb stem, we then simply add the right ending depending on the grammatical person of the subject. That’s it!

Let’s see the regular verb conjugations in action for all three regular verb types. Notice that in each Spanish conjugation table we repeat the verb stem for each grammatical person, and then just add the new ending.

-AR verbs in Spanish

Typical -ar verb: Comprar – To buy

Subject Pronoun -ar verb endings Comprar conjugation English
Yo -o compro I buy
-as compras You buy
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

-a compra – He buys

– She buys

– You buy

Nosotros -amos compramos We buy
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

-an compran – They buy

– You (all) buy

-ER verbs in Spanish

Typical -er verb: Correr – To run

Subject Pronoun -er verb endings Correr conjugation English
Yo -o corro I run
-es corres You run
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

-e corre – He runs

– She runs

– You run

Nosotros -emos corremos We run
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

-en corren – They run

– You (all) run

-IR verbs in Spanish

Typical -ir verb: Asistir – To assist

Subject Pronoun -ir verb endings Asistir conjugation English
Yo -o asisto I assist
-es asistes You assist
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

-e asiste – He assists

– She assists

– You assist

Nosotros -imos asistimos We assist
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

-en asisten – They assist

– You (all) assist

Irregular Spanish verb conjugation

Irregular verbs in Spanish do not stick to the previous formula, so they will be conjugated differently. Diphthongs are included in some of them, while others will have a vowel change.

You will study them in different groups, depending on their pattern.

Irregular Spanish verbs: First-person singular change

This group of verbs only has an irregular conjugation in the first-person singular. For the rest of the conjugations they obey the rules for regular verbs in Spanish, depending on whether they’re -ar, -er, or -ir verbs.

Irregular verbs: Spanish First-person singular conjugation English
Dar Yo doy I give
Caer Yo caigo I fall
Coger Yo cojo I take
Conocer Yo conozco I know
Hacer Yo hago I do, I make
Poner Yo pongo I put
Saber Yo sé I know
Traer Yo traigo I bring
Valer Yo valgo I am worth
Ver Yo veo I see
Salir Yo salgo I go out

Irregular Spanish verbs: Vowel change

This is the most common type of irregular Spanish verb conjugations, where we need to change the last vowel of the verb stem depending on which rule applies to each irregular verb group. In most of these groups, the single vowel becomes a diphthong, meaning that two vowels are contained in that syllable. In all of these groups, we change the vowels for all grammatical persons except the first-person plural “nosotros.”

We’ll introduce each group here, demonstrating each with a typical verb in its Spanish conjugation chart. We’ll then include lists of common Spanish verbs which follow each of these rules.

Vowel change: E to IE

Typical e to ie verb: Querer – To want

Subject pronoun Querer conjugation English
Yo quiero I want
quieres You want
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

quiere – He wants

– She wants

– You want

Nosotros queremos We want
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

quieren – They want

– You (all) want


Some common Spanish verbs which follow the e to ie rule:

Irregular verbs: Spanish English
Apretar To squeeze
Calentar To heat
Cerrar To close
Comenzar To start
Concernir To concern
Defender To defend
Despertar To wake up
Empezar To begin
Encender To switch on
Manifestar To express
Merendar To have a snack
Pensar To think
Perder To lose
Preferir To prefer
Recomendar To recommend


Vowel change: E to I

Typical e to i verb: Pedir

Subject pronoun Pedir conjugation English
Yo pido I order
pides You order
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

pide – He orders

– She orders

– You order

Nosotros pedimos We order
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

piden – They order

– You (all) order


Some common Spanish verbs which follow the e to i rule:

Irregular verbs: Spanish English
Competir To compete
Corregir To correct
Freír To fry
Medir To measure
Perseguir To chase
Reír To laugh
Repetir To repeat
Seguir To follow
Servir To serve
Vestir To wear


Vowel change: O to UE

Typical o to ue verb: Soñar – To dream

Personal pronoun Soñar conjugation English
Yo sueño I dream
sueñas You dream
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

sueña – He dreams

– She dreams

– You dream

Nosotros soñamos We dream
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

sueñan – They dream

– You (all) dream


Some common Spanish verbs which follow the o to ue rule:

Irregular verbs: Spanish English
Acordarse To remember
Almorzar To have lunch
Colgar To hang
Comprobar To confirm, To check
Contar To tell, To count
Costar To cost
Dormir To sleep
Encontrar To find
Esforzarse To make an effort
Morir To die
Poder To be able to
Volar To fly


The special case of Oler: O to HUE

Technically, “oler” (to smell) falls into the same group of o to ue irregular verbs as above. However, this verb is unique since it also takes an H before the diphthong. Let’s see its conjugation chart:

Subject pronoun Oler conjugation English
Yo huelo I smell
hueles You smell
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

huele – He smells

– She smells

– You smell

Nosotros olemos We smell
– Ellos, ellas

– Ustedes

huelen – They smell

– You (all) smell


The special case of Jugar: U to UE

This vowel change formula has just one irregular verb that follows it: Jugar (to play). Let’s see its conjugations:

Subject pronoun Jugar conjugation English
Yo juego I play
juegas You play
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

juega – He plays

– She plays

– You play

Nosotros jugamos We play
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

juegan – They play

– You (all) play


The special case of Adquirir and Inquirir: I to IE

This vowel change formula has just two verbs which follow it: Adquirir (to purchase, to acquire) and Inquirir (to inquire). Let’s see this irregular i to ie rule in action with adquirir:

Subject pronoun Adquirir conjugation English
Yo adquiero I acquire
adquieres You acquire
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

adquiere – He acquires

– She acquires

– You acquire

Nosotros adquirimos We acquire
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

adquieren – They acquire

– You (all) acquire

The six highly-irregular Spanish verbs

This final group of irregular verbs doesn’t fit any of the patterns we’ve seen so far, nor do they even match each other. With no rules to help us conjugate these highly-irregular verbs, the best approach is simply to memorize the present tense conjugation for each one.

These are among the most common verbs in Spanish, so it’s worthwhile to learn each of them correctly. We’ll present the Spanish verb conjugation chart for each one here so you can study the simple present tense conjugations of these six common Spanish verbs: ser (to be),  estar (to be), ir (to go),tener (to have), venir (to come), and oír (to hear).

Ser – To be

Personal pronoun Ser conjugation English
Yo soy I am
eres You are
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

es – He is

– She is

– You are

Nosotros somos We are
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

son – They are

– You (all) are


Estar – To be

Personal pronoun Estar conjugation English
Yo estoy I am
estás You are
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

está – He is

– She is

– You are

Nosotros estamos We are
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

están – They are

– You (all) are


Ir – To go

Personal pronoun Ir conjugation English
Yo voy I go
vas You go
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

va – He goes

– She goes

– You go

Nosotros vamos We go
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

van – They go

– You (all) go


Tener – To have

Personal pronoun Tener conjugation English
Yo tengo I have
tienes You have
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

tiene – He has

– She has

– You have

Nosotros tenemos We have
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

tienen – They have

– You (all) have


Venir – To come

Personal pronoun Venir conjugation English
Yo vengo I come
vienes You come
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

viene – He comes

– She comes

– You come

Nosotros venimos We come
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

vienen – They come

– You (all) come


Oír – To hear

Personal pronoun Oír conjugation English
Yo oigo I hear
oyes You hear
– Él

– Ella

– Usted

oye – He hears

– She hears

– You hear

Nosotros oímos We hear
– Ellos, Ellas

– Ustedes

oyen – They hear

– You (all) hear


Wow, we’ve certainly covered a lot here to give you an in-depth introduction to present tense Spanish. Since it’s the main tense you’re likely to encounter and use in so many situations, it’s pretty vital to have a solid understanding of the tense’s uses and conjugations.

We started off with the various temporal contexts where we use the Spanish present tense: it’s most common when describing habitual actions or actions which are underway at the time of speaking, while we also saw how it can be used to describe permanent traits. We even learned how to use the present indicative Spanish to talk about planned events in the future, as well as to recount historical events from the past. The Spanish present tense is obviously a very important and versatile tense to know!

We then dove right into conjugating verbs in Spanish. We saw the straightforward rules for the regular verbs, adding standard endings to the verb stems of -ar, -er, and -ir verbs. Then we got into the irregular verbs, covering their conjugation rules and listing the common Spanish verbs which follow each formula. We ended with a handful of unique irregular verbs whose conjugations you’ll need to just memorize.

If you’ve gotten this far with us, then you’re well on your way to mastering present tense Spanish as you progress in the language! There’s definitely a lot of material here, with a bunch of useful verbs to learn, so feel free to bookmark this post and refer to it as you continue learning. In the meantime, we hope our post has helped you gain confidence in practicing the present tense in Spanish!

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