How To Conjugate Irregular Verbs in the Spanish Preterite Tense

In this lesson you will learn to conjugate irregular verbs in the Spanish past tense. In fact, you will learn Irregular and Very Irregular Verbs in the Past or “Indefinite Past”. Remember, we use this time for a specific action that happened once, or actions that indicate the exact duration.

Some verbs in Preterite Indefinite or Preterite Perfect Simple (PPS) are completely irregular. What does this mean? Most irregular verbs change stem, but “very irregular verbs” have a different stem and different endings.

They use these roots:

Stand: Estuv
Walk: Anduv
Have: Tuv
Do: Hic (Hiz in singular 3zt)
Come: Vin
Put: pus
Power: Pud
Consultant: Quis
Saber: Sup
Fit: Cup

And they use these endings:

I: -e
You / You: -iste
You / He / She: -o
We: -we
You / they: -y

And there is another list of verbs, which in the last person, where it is not -ieron, is “-eron”. These verbs are:

Say: I said
Translate: Traduj
Produce: Produj
Drive: Drive

Let’s look at some sentences that illustrate these verbs.

• Yesterday Juan was at his parents ‘house, they made a very big dinner to celebrate that Juan and his wife had a daughter. / Yesterday John was at his parents’ house, they made a big dinner to celebrate John and his wife had a daughter.
• Ana drove to work this morning because the subway did not work. / Ana drove to work this morning because the subway did not work.
• Timothy translated his CV into Spanish because he wants to work in Peru. / Timothy translated his CV into Spanish because he wants to work in Peru.
• We rode our bikes in the park on Sunday. We rode our bikes through the park on Sunday.
• When the teacher asked me that question, I didn’t know what to answer. / When the teacher asked me that question, I didn’t know how to answer.
• I couldn’t go out last night, because I had to work. / I couldn’t go out last night because I had to work.
• Too bad you didn’t come to the party / Too bad you didn’t come to the party.

There are other verbs that change only the stem.

• The first group consists of verbs that change from E to I in third persons. Example:

Ask: I asked, you asked, asked, we asked, they asked.
Serve, say goodbye, dress, undress, lie, measure, prefer.

• The second group consists of verbs that change from O to U in third persons. Example:

Sleep: I slept, slept, slept, slept, slept
Dying, falling asleep.

• The third group consists of verbs that change from I to Y in third persons at the ending. Example:

Distribute: Distributed, distributed, distributed, distributed, distributed.
Build, read, influence, conclude.

• The fourth group consists of verbs that do not use E in third persons. Example:

Laugh: Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh.
Smile, fry.

If you need additional practice on how to conjugate irregular verbs in the past tense in Spanish, do a Google search for the Verbarrator software. The Verbarrator was designed to help native English speaking students learn to conjugate Spanish verbs in a fun way. Another tool that I recommend to learn this topic is Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses which is available on Amazon.com

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