So why bother learning how to conjugate verbs in Spanish? Well, quite simply, it's 75% of the language. Once you know how to conjugate verbs in their respective tenses you'll be down the home stretch for speaking Spanish.
A good companion to this lesson would be the famous 501 Spanish Verbs book. It has 501 verbs in all the various tenses. They are the more common verbs and will be of great help in a regular conversation.
When we form sentences, we conjugate verbs without even realizing it. One of the key components to this is the subject pronoun. It has to agree with the conjugation of the verb. For example, in English when we conjugate the verb 'to be' it looks something like this:
I am We are
He They are
The Spanish language requires the same. The Spanish subject pronouns are as follows:
yo (I) nosotros (We, masculine)
nosotras (We, feminine)
tú (you, familiar)
él (he) ellos (they, masculine)
ella (she) ellas (they, feminine)
usted (you, formal) ustedes (you, formal, plural)
Please not the gender for plural subject pronouns. If a group of women says 'We....', then the nosotras for would be used. As soon as one male enters the group, then it automatically becomes nosotros. By default, gender will be masculine if there is one masculine in the group.
The same is true for they (ellos/ellas). If one masculine is found in the group, then the whole group becomes masculine (ellos). Sorry ladies.....Spanish is a man's language.
*Note: I have intentionally left out the vosotros/as form. It is rarely used today and only in certain regions. This tutorial is written to give the most compatibility world wide.
The Spanish language is a language of rules with few exceptions. All Spanish verbs end in -ar, -er, and -ir. The verb 'to eat' is 'comer'. The verb 'to walk' is 'caminar'. The verb 'to open' is 'abrir'.
-ar Verb Endings
-ar verb endings are conjugated by removing the -ar from the end of the verb and replacing it with the proper ending for the subject pronoun:
yo -o nosotros -amos
ella -a ellas -an
So let's try it out with a common -ar verb.
caminar - to walk
yo camino nosotros caminamos
ella camina ellas caminan
-er Verb Endings
-er verb endings are conjugated by removing the -er from the end of the verb and replacing it with the proper ending for the subject pronoun:
yo -o nosotros -emos
ella -e ellas -en
So let's try it out with a common -er verb.
comer - to eat
yo como nosotros comemos
ella come ellas comen
-ir Verb Endings
-ir verb endings are conjugated by removing the -ir from the end of the verb and replacing it with the proper ending for the subject pronoun:
yo -o nosotros -imos
ella -e ellas -en
So let's try it out with a common -ir verb.
abrir - to open
yo abro nosotros abrimos
ella abre ellas abren