spanish present tense

We´ve got great news for you! Of all the tenses used in Castilian, the Spanish Present Tense is the easiest one to learn.

Hooray!

That said, it takes practice and perseverance. Let’s dive into Spanish Present Tense in its many forms.

Present Tense Spanish

The Spanish word for ‘present’ is ‘presente’. It comes from the Latin «praesens», which means to be in front or in the presence of someone.

In Grammar, it refers to the tense that places the action or the state expressed by the verb in a period of time that includes the moment of speech.

In present tense Spanish, the actions happen in what we commonly know as the “the here and now”. Therefore, it is always a simple conjugation, without the help of any auxiliary verbs.

The only exception to this rule is the Spanish Present Continuous Tense, which is formed with a verbal periphrasis using the verb ‘to be’ (estar).

Thus, note that it is not included as a part of the verbal conjugation model of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (Real Academia de la Lengua Española).

Spanish Verbal Moods and the Present Tense

present tense spanish

The moods serve as a platform to portray the point of view of the speaker. The present can be voiced in the three Spanish Verbal Moods:

  • Indicative Mood: used for facts and statements.

Example:

  • La señora Guillermina come lentejas durante su almuerzo. -> Mrs Guillermina eats lentils during her lunch.
  • Subjunctive Mood: used for emotions, wishes, opinions, and subjective bits of information.

Example:

  • Que la señora coma lentejas cuando tenga hambre. -> Let the lady eat when she is hungry.
  • Imperative Mood: used for commands and pleas.

Example:

  • Ande señora, por favor coma unas lentejas que ha preparado mi mujer, están muy sabrosas. -> Go on, lady, please eat some lentils that my wife has prepared, they are very tasty.
  • Señora, ¡no coma todavía! Debemos esperar a que lleguen los demás. -> Lady, don’t eat yet! We have to wait for everyone else to arrive.

Spanish Verb Tenses Table

In the following table, the verb ‘to sing’ (cantar) is conjugated in the present tense of the three Spanish Verbal Moods.

Apart from the Imperative Mood which is expressed using the singular second person, they are conjugated using the pronoun of the first person ‘yo’ (I).

PRESENT FORM TO SING (CANTAR)
Present Indicative Canto
Present Subjunctive Cante
Present Imperative Canta (ella/él)
Present Continuos Estoy cantando

Now, let’s look at the big picture. In the chart below you will spot the present tenses highlighted in red.

The example shows the full conjugation model of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language for the verb ‘amar’ (to love) in first person.

INDICATIVE
SIMPLE
SIMPLE PRESENT IMPERFECT PAST SIMPLE PAST OR PRETERITE SIMPLE FUTURE SIMPLE CONDITIONAL
Amo Amaba Amé Amaré Amaría
COMPOUND
PAST PERFECT PLUPERFECT PAST ANTERIOR FUTURE PERFECT PERFECT CONDITIONAL
He amado Había amado Hube amado Habré amado Habría amado
SUBJUNCTIVE
SIMPLE
SUBJUNCTIVE SIMPLE PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE IMPERFECT PAST SUBJUNCTIVE SIMPLE FUTURE
Ame Amara o amase Amare
COMPOUND
SUBJUNCTIVE PAST PERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE PLUPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE FUTURE PERFECT
Haya amado Hubiera amado o hubiese amado Hubiere amado
IMPERATIVE
Ama
NON-PERSONAL FORMS
INFINITIVE PARTICIPLE GERUND
SIMPLE COMPOUND Amado SIMPLE COMPOUND
Amar Haber amado Amando Habiendo amando

Spanish Pronouns

present tense spanish

It is always a good idea to revise the personal pronouns needed to conjugate the verbs.

ENGLISH SPANISH
Pronoun Grammatical person Informal Formal
I First person singular Yo Yo
We First person plural Nosotros Nosotros
You Second person singular Tú/Vos Usted
He Third person masculine singular Él Él
She Third person femenine singular Ella Ella
They Third person plural Ustedes Ustedes/Vosotros

Present Tense Verbs in Spanish

present tense verbs spanish

To conjugate the Simple Present Tense of the Indicative Mood you have to first identify the last few letters at the ending of each verb.

Remember that the infinitive forms of regular verbs in Castilian are grouped in three categories according to their endings: –ar, –er, and –ir.

In the present tense, these endings change in agreement to the pronoun. For instance, to form the first person of ‘hablar’ (to speak), which is ‘hablo’, you have to remove the –ar and add an –o to the stem verb ‘habl’.

Examine the table below and you will recognize the ending’s pattern for each person.

PRONOUN HABLAR (TO TALK) APRENDER (TO LEARN) VIVIR (TO LIVE)
  -ar -er -ir
Yo Hablo Aprendo Vivo
Tú/vos Hablas/Hablás Aprendes/Aprendés Vives/Vivís
Él/ella/usted Habla Aprende Vive
Nosotros/nosotras Hablamos Aprendemos Vivimos
Vosotros/vosotras Habláis Aprendéis Vivís
Ellos/ellas/ustedes Hablan Aprenden Viven

Present Indicative Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs tend to differ from the model above so it is better to memorize them.

Ser (to be), estar (to be), dirigir (to direct) hacer (to do), ir (to go), tener (to have), conocer (to know), traer (to bring) y dar (to give) are frequently used irregular verbs. You can look up their conjugation here.

Uses of the Present Indicative Spanish

present indicative spanish

In this section, we will look at the uses of the Spanish Simple Present Tense of the Indicative Mood (Presente del Modo Indicativo). It is very straightforward and includes a wide variety of situations.

To talk about habits or routines.

Example:

  • El bebé se baña en tina por las noches. -> The baby bathes in the tub at night.
  • La niña desayuna todos los días huevos estrellados. -> The girl eats fried eggs for breakfast every day.
  • Ellos viven la mayor parte del año en Barcelona pero regresan todos los veranos a Londres. -> They live most of the year in Barcelona but go back to London every summer.
  • Me gusta comenzar el día con una taza de café. –> I like to start the day with a cup of coffee.
  • ¡Vos estudiás demasiado! -> You study too much!

To describe facts.

   Example:

  • El coche es rojo. -> The car is red.
  • Estamos enojados con mi madre. -> We are mad at my mother.
  • La mujer ríe discretamente. -> The woman laughs discreetly.
  • Miriam cojea del pie derecho al caminar. -> Miriam limps on her right foot when she walks.
  • Hoy empiezo la dieta Keto. -> Today I start the Keto Diet.
present indicative spanish

To refer to universal truths or scientific hypothesis.

Example:

  • El cambio es la ley de la naturaleza. -> Change is the law of nature.
  • El planeta Tierra gira alrededor del Sol y la Luna gira alrededor de la Tierra. -> The planet Earth spins around the Sun and the Moon spins around the Earth.
  • Un día tiene 24 horas. -> A day has 24 hours.
  • El agua es vida. -> Water is life.

To quote sayings and proverbs.

Example:

  • Como dice el dicho “soñar no cuesta nada”. -> As the saying goes “dreaming costs nothing”.
  • Al que madruga Dios lo ayuda. -> The early bird catches the worm.
  • Si lloras por haber perdido el sol, tus lágrimas te impedirán ver las estrellas. -> If you cry because you lost the sun, your tears will not let you see the stars.
  • No todo lo que brilla es oro. -> Not all that glitters is gold.

To ask questions.

Example:

  • ¿Rezamos juntos antes de dormir? -> Shall we pray together before bed?
  • ¿Quieres una rebanada de pastel? -> Do you want a slice of cake?
  • ¿Cómo toma su café? -> How do you take your coffee?
  • ¿En dónde está el Museo Franz Meyer? -> Where is the Franz Meyer Museum?
  • ¿Vais de paseo? – Are you going for a walk?
  • ¿Qué hora es? -> What time is it?
  • ¿Cuánto cuestan los jitomates? -> How much do the tomatoes cost?

To express opinions as if they were certainties.

Example:

  • ¡La clase de matemáticas apesta! -> Math class stinks!
  • Las minifaldas son la prenda del momento. -> Mini skirts are the trending garment right now.
  • El presidente no sabe lo que dice. -> The president doesn’t know what he is saying.
  • Usted tiene un problema. -> You have a problem.
  • Si te llama a todas horas es porque te ama. -> If he calls at all times of day it is because he loves you.
  • Vivimos en tiempos difíciles. -> We live in difficult times.
  • Vos habláis muy rápido. -> You speak too fast.

To shop at stores and order at restaurants.

Example:

  • Soy talla mediana. -> I am medium size.
  • Mi compadre busca unos zapatos negros de vestir para caballero. -> My compadre is looking for some smart black shoes for men.
  • El señor quiere una cerveza y la señora quiere una Coca Cola. -> The man wants a beer and the lady wants a Coke.
  • El café es para llevar junto con un sándwich de jamón y queso, gracias. -> The coffee is to take away with a ham and cheese sandwich, thanks.
  • ¿Me trae una servilleta por favor? -> Can you please bring me a napkin?
  • Falta el plato de mi mujer, ordenó el cordero y tenemos prisa. -> My wife’s plate is missing, she ordered the lamb, and we are in a hurry.
  1. To talk about times and fares, as well as other travel affairs.
  2. El autobús sale a las 7:00 pm. -> The bus leaves at 7:00 pm.
  3. El boleto del tren rápido cuesta mil pesos. -> The high-speed train´s ticket costs a thousand pesos.
  4. El vuelo hace escala en Madrid. -> The flight stops at Madrid. 
  5. El crucero navega por aguas turbulentas. –> The cruise ship sails through turbulent waters.

Present Subjunctive Spanish

spanish present tense

Although the Subjunctive Mood is less heard in spoken Spanish than the Indicative Mood, it is faster to learn its conjugation!

There are only two sets of endings to form the Present Subjunctive, one for the regular verbs that finish with –ar and another one for regular verbs that finish with –er and –ir.

Look at the table below to identify the pattern:

PRONOUN HABLAR (TO TALK) APRENDER (TO LEARN) VIVIR (TO LIVE)
  -ar -er -ir
Yo Hable Aprenda Viva
Tú/vos Hables Aprendas Vivas
Él/ella/usted Hable Aprenda Viva
Nosotros/nosotras Hablemos Aprendamos Vivamos
Vosotros/vosotras Habléis Aprendáis Viváis
Ellos/ellas/ustedes Hablen Aprendan Vivan

Similar to the Present Indicative, the irregular verbs in the Present Subjunctive tense can be challenging so you may have to learn them by heart. You can revise Spanish irregular verbs here

In some instances of irregular verbs, the Present Subjunctive may be shaped from the stem verb of the first person ‘yo’ in the Present Indicative form.

The following example with the verb ‘caber’ (to fit) illustrates the case.

INFINITIVE VERB 1ST PERSON PRESENT INDICATIVE FORM PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE STEM VERB
Caber Yo quepo quep-
PRONOUN PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE
Yo quepa
Tú/vos quepas
Él/ella/usted quepa
Nosotros/nosotras quepamos
Vosotros/vosotras quepáis
Ellos/ellas/ustedes quepan
present tense verbs spanish

Uses of Present Subjunctive Spanish


As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Subjunctive Mood is appropriate to expose one’s desires, emotions, needs, resolutions, suppositions, confidences, doubts or uncertainties.

Example:

DOUBTS:

  • ¿Es buena idea que mi bebé use chupón para dormir? -> Is it a good idea for my baby to use a pacifier to sleep?

DESIRES:

  • Que yo quiera ser profesionista no significa que renuncie a ser madre. -> That I want to be a professional does not mean that I quit being a mother.
  • Ojalá que el plomero pueda venir pronto para arreglar el boiler. -> Hopefully the plumber can come soon to fix the boiler.
  • Por favor, no quedéis mal ante el ministro. -> Please, do not look bad in front of the minister.

JUDGMENTS:

  • ¡No es posible que odies las lentejas! -> You can’t hate lentils!

SUPPOSITIONS:

  • Cuando seas grande lo entenderás mejor. -> When you grow up you will understand better.
  • Cuando ella acceda a los términos del divorcio el pleito habrá terminado. -> When she agrees to the divorce terms the lawsuit will be over.

RESOLUTIONS:

  • Salvemos a las ballenas. -> Let’s save the whales.
  • Trabajamos para que los niños de bajos recursos económicos estudien en escuelas privadas y tengan mayores oportunidades. -> We work so the low-income children can study in private schools and have greater opportunities.

EMOTIONS:

  • Esther está esperando que le declares tu amor. -> Esther is waiting for you to declare your love.

NEEDS:

  • Deja que me arme de valor. -> Let me arm myself with courage.

CONFIDENCES:

  • Aunque no lo parezca mi hermano es menor que yo. -> Even if it doesn’t look like it, my brother is younger than me.

Finally, some popular expressions as well as a bunch of proverbs are great examples of this tense:

  • Aunque me cueste la vida. -> Even though it costs me my life.
  • ¡Sálvese quien pueda! -> Every man for himself!
  • Que empiece la función. -> Let the show begin.
  • Que valga la pena. -> (Something)… that is worth it.
  • El que quiera azul celeste, que le cueste. -> No pain, no gain.
  • Ande yo caliente, ríase la gente. -> I dress for comfort, not for show. (Note that the second part in Spanish is an imperative.)
present tense verbs spanish

Commands Spanish Present


Since the Present Imperative Mood is the vehicle for commands and public notices it can’t be formulated in first person, as the instruction is addressed for an individual or a group of people to be heard.

In addition, is quite common in spoken Spanish to drop the pronoun because the subject can be inferred by the verb.

Example:

  • Ximena, toma mi mano para cruzar la calle. -> Ximena, take my hand to cross the street.
  • Toma mi mano para cruzar la calle. -> Take my hand to cross the street.

This is the preferred mood for Spanish commands: instructions, orders, directives, tips, guidelines, and so on. 

ORDERS AND COMMANDMENTS:

  • Ten cuidado. -> Be careful.
  • Quédese quieto. -> Stay still.
  • Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo. -> Love your neighbor as yourself.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Sé valiente. -> Be brave.
  • Compra a mayoreo en la tienda de la esquina. -> Buy wholesale at the corner shop.  
  • Lleven chamarra por si acaso llueve. -> Take a jacket with you guys in case it rains.
spanish present progressive

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Dígame dónde queda la estación del tren por favor. -> Tell me where the train station is please.
  • Siga hacia adelante y doble a la izquierda. -> Go forward and then turn to the left.

PUBLIC NOTICES:

  • Espere su turno. -> Wait for your turn.
  • Circule por el carril derecho. -> Drive on the right lane.
  • Declare usted al agente aduanal si trae consigo alimentos embutidos o sin pasteurizar. -> Declare to the customs agent if you bring with you cold meats or unpasteurized foods.

REQUESTS:

  • Por favor, ponga las sobras en un contenedor para llevarlas a casa. -> Please, put the leftovers in a container to take them home.
  • Deme tres kilos de carne de cerdo, por favor. -> Give me three kilos of pork meat, please.

NEGATIVE COMMANDS:

When transforming an imperative sentence into a negative command (ordering not to do something), the conjugation of the verb changes and should be formulated using the Subjunctive Present.

Example:

  • Mentid si es necesario. -> Lie if it is necessary.

No seáis mentirosas. -> Don’t be liars.

  • Quédese con mi asiento. -> Keep my seat.
  • No se quede usted con mi asiento. -> Don’t keep my seat.
  • ¡Grita cuando necesites mi ayuda! -> ¡Shout when you need my help!
  • ¡No grites! -> Don’t shout!

Nonetheless, occasionally this can be confusing because some verbs may appear to be the same in both moods.

That is the case of the verb ‘tirar’ (to throw); where the conjugation for the formal second person (usted) is identical in the Subjunctive and the Imperative Mood.

  • Tire basura. -> Litter.
  • No tire basura. -> Do not litter.
subjunctive mood spanish

Now, to form the Present Imperative in Spanish follow the pattern shown in the table below.

Regular -ar verbs:
HABLAR (TO SPEAK)
Tú habla/no hables Nosotros hablemos
Vos hablá/no hables Utedes hablen
Usted hable Vosotros hablad
Regular –er and –ir verbs:
APRENDER (TO LEARN)
Tú aprende/no aprendas Nosotros aprendamos
Vos aprendé/no aprendas Utedes aprendan
Usted aprenda Vosotros aprended
VIVIR (TO LIVE)
Tú vive/no vivas Nosotros vivamos
Vos viví/no vivas Utedes vivan
Usted viva Vosotros vivid

As always, you better check for irregular verbs here

Spanish Present Continuous

Lastly, the Spanish Present Progressive or Present Continuous is used to express an action that is actually taking place in the now (as we speak) and that it is likely to continue for an indefinite time.

It is a type of verbal periphrasis, a compound expression that consists of one verb followed by another in its gerund form, which has a progressive aspect.

Example:

  • El bebé está durmiendo. -> The baby is sleeping.
  • La mujer está preparando la comida. -> The woman is preparing the food.
  • El hombre está esperando a que llegue el autobús. -> The man is waiting for the bus to arrive.

The Spanish Present Progressive is formed by the combination of the Simple Present Tense of the Indicative Mood of the auxiliary verb ‘estar’ (to be) followed by the gerund.

PRONOUN + SIMPLE PRESENT OF ‘ESTAR’ + GERUND

Example:

  • Yo + estoy + hablando
  • Tú + estás + hablando
  • Vos + estás + hablando
  • Usted + está + hablando
  • Ella + está + hablando
  • Él + está + hablando
  • Nosotros + estamos + hablando
  • Ustedes + están + hablando
  • Vosotros + estáis + hablando 

As you can see, the gerund remains unaltered throughout all the persons. It is only the verb ‘estar’ that is modified to match the subject.

Note how the verb conjugation of the auxiliary verb ‘estar’ describes the subject who is actually performing the verb; consequently, is quite common amongst native Spanish speakers to drop the pronoun.

Example:

  1. I am reading -> Yo estoy leyendo -> Estoy leyendo.
  2. We are talking -> Nosotros estamos hablando -> Estamos hablando.
  3. She is dancing -> Ella está bailando -> Está bailando.

Revise the conjugation for the irregular verb ‘estar’ with the table below:

SIMPLE INDICATIVE ‘ESTAR’ (TO BE)
PRONOUN PRESENT IMPERFECT SIMPLE PAST FUTURE CONDITIONAL
Yo Estoy Estaba Estuve Estaré Estaría
Estás Estabas Estuviste Estarás Estarías
Vos Estás Estabas Estuviste Estarás Estarías
Usted Está Estaba Estuvo Estará Estaría
Él Está Estaba Estuvo Estará Estaría
Ella Está Estaba Estuvo Estará Estaría
Nosotros Estamos Estábamos Estuvimos Estaremos Estaríamos
Ustedes Están Estaban Estuvieron Estarán Estarían
Vosotros Estáis Estabais Estuvisteis Estaréis Estaríais

To learn more about the differences between ‘estar’ and ‘ser’ see this article.

present tense spanish

How do you Conjugate Spanish Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense?

Are you still unsure about conjugating irregular Spanish verbs? Here is an example of the irregular verb ‘ser’ (to be) in the three moods.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS INDICATIVE SUBJUNCTIVE IMPERATIVE
Yo Soy Sea  
Tú/Vos Eres/Sos Seas
Usted Es Sea Sea
Él/Ella Es Sea  
Nosotros/Nosotras Somos Seamos  
Vosotros/Vosotras Sois Seáis Sed
Ustedes Son Sean Sean
Ellos/Ellas Son Sean  

You can practice irregular verbs here

present imperative mood

Keep in mind that in Spanish the verbs’ ending many times can give you hints about the moment the action takes place as well as to who is actually performing the action.

Therefore, in order to speak like a native and conjugate like a pro, you need to consider the mood, the tense, the gender, and the person. That is why it is always advantageous to learn from certified teachers who have Spanish as their mother tongue. You can benefit from their insights and their language mastery at LiveLingua.com.

A strong way to master present tense Spanish use and conjugation, and to practice present tense verbs in Spanish and present indicative Spanish is to sign up for our FREE Spanish Survival Crash Course. Every day for six days, we’ll send learning guides and audio courses to your inbox, totally FREE!

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