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How to learn irregular verbs in Spanish

By 7 November, 2022November 10th, 2022EIN

Studying verbs and their conjugations can be tricky, but learning irregular verbs can become an impossible mission. Before we look at some tips and tricks on how to learn irregular verbs in Spanish, you need to know what they are and how to identify them.

What is an irregular verb in Spanish?

An irregular verb is a verb that has particular conjugations depending on the mood or tense in which it is conjugated. This means that irregular verbs do not conform to the conjugation paradigms of verbs such as amar (love), temer (fear) and partir (split), as they take on different desinences from regular verbs.

Absolutely all verbs are composed of two fundamental parts from a morphological point of view:

  • Root. The root of the verb is the part that expresses its meaning.
  • Desinence. It is the part of the verb that indicates the grammatical person, number, tense, verb aspect and mood.

For example, in the verb amar, the root is AM and the desinence is AR.

With this in mind, there are two types of verbs: regular verbs with uniform conjugations, with no changes in the roots, and irregular verbs with changes in the root, the desinence or both parts.

How to identify irregular verbs in Spanish?

A trick to recognise whether we are dealing with a regular or irregular verb is to conjugate it according to the verbs amar, temer and partir and in different tenses (present, past perfect simple and future).

If when conjugating it we see that the sound of the root or the desinences changes, we are dealing with an irregular verb. Below, you can see a list of all the irregular verbs in Spanish.

List of all the irregular verbs in Spanish

Spanish English Spanish English
acertar hit jugar play
acordar agree leer read
acostar lay llover rain
aislar isolate lucir show off
alentar encourage medir measure
almorzar lunch moler grind
andar walk morder bite
atender attend morir die
atribuir attribute mostrar show
caber fit mover move
calentar warm up nacer born
carecer lack negar deny
ceñir gird oler smell
comenzar start pedir ask
competir compete pensar think
complacer please perder lose
conducir drive poder can
conseguir get poner put
construir build poseer own
contar count predecir predict
convencer convince prevenir prevent
corregir correct probar prove
dar give prohibir forbid
decir say proveer provide
deducir deduce querer want
defender defend recluir seclude
desconocer ignore reducir reduce
deshacer undo rehacer redo
destituir dismiss rehusar refuse
desviar divert reír laugh
distraer distract rendir render
distribuir distribute retener withhold
dormir sleep rodar roll
encerrar enclose saber know
encontrar find salir leave
enriquecer enrich seducir seduce
entender understand seguir follow
errar err sentar sit
estar be sentir feel
excluir exclude servir serve
forzar force soltar release
freír fry soñar dream
gobernar rule torcer twist
haber have traducir translate
incluir include traer bring
ingerir ingest ver see
introducir enter vestir dress
intuir intuit volver back
invertir invert yacer lie
ir go

Tricks for learning irregular verbs in Spanish

If you want to perfectly master the conjugation of irregular verbs in Spanish, follow these tips:

Listen to what is going on around you

To learn a new language, it is very important to listen to it, to listen. Listening to the radio, a podcast, or songs in Spanish will help you to listen and pay attention to the way you conjugate verbs.

Pay attention to what is around you, conversations, television, radio, movies, series, etc. After all, the conjugation of irregular verbs comes naturally in any situation.

This advice is as useful for a child learning another language as it is for a foreigner who wants to learn Spanish.

Read in Spanish

Reading in another language is fundamental to learn it. To learn irregular verbs in Spanish, you will have to read a book or novel in the language you want to learn.

As you read, the conjugations of the irregular verbs will emerge, and little by little you will acquire that knowledge from seeing them so many times.

Paint irregular verbs

You can use painting as a mnemonic rule to learn the conjugations of irregular verbs. Choose to paint the root of the verb in one color and the desinence in another to memorize its conjugations in an easier and more fun way.

Online portals for learning

Some official websites, such as those of the Instituto Cervantes or the Real Academia Española de la lengua (RAE), solve doubts to learn more about Spanish.

In addition, the RAE has a games section where learning Spanish becomes more fun.

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