Spanish Verbs That End in -ir

IR verbs in Spanish

Spanish Verbs

All Spanish verbs end in either -ir, -er, or -ar. Each of these verb categories have specific rules governing how they change to express layers of crucial information about the situation. Verbs that end in -ir are less common than their -er and -ar siblings but no less important!

How Verbs Change

The form of a verb changes to show who perpetrated the action (the person) and when it occurred (the tense). Spanish uses one extra person category that corresponds to addressing “you all / you guys” in English. For more on the different person categories and personal pronouns in Spanish, see this guide.

Though native speakers may not notice it, English verbs also change depending on who and when the action occurs. Most verbs only change in the third person singular (see below) in English, but all verbs change to distinguish when something occurs.

Person (singular) Present tense Past tense
First person I walk I walked
Second person You walk You walked
Third person He/She walks He/She walked

In most cases (apart from irregular verbs), the English past tense is formed by adding -ed to the word. Both English and Spanish have a lot of irregular verbs which simply need to be memorized, but learning the rule for regular verbs makes conjugation much easier.

Being exposed to verbs in context (rather than just in a chart) is also crucial to becoming comfortable using them – not to mention it’s more fun! Use Lingvist’s Spanish course to see verbs in context, as well as look over grammar tips to clarify concepts explicitly as needed.

To Infinitivo and Beyond

The infinitive (infinitivo) form of a verb is its most basic form. You can spot them easily in Spanish because they retain their original ending of -ar, -ir, or -er. The equivalent meaning in English is the same as “to [verb],” so “dormir” translates to “to sleep.”

Except when stacking two verbs together (“I [like] [to sleep]”/ “Me [gusta] [dormir]”), the infinitive form needs to change to express the who and when. This is where conjugation comes in.

For regular verbs, the infinitive lends its stem to its conjugated forms in a predictable way. The stem, or raíz (literally “root” in Spanish), is the part that occurs before the -ar, -ir, or -er.

Simply put, to conjugate an -ir verb, drop the -ir and add the appropriate ending according to the person and tense.

For example, in the present tense you add -o, -es, -e, -imos, -ís, or -en to the remaining stem after removing -ir. You’ll see an exception to this rule in the simple future, where you only need to add the ending to the intact infinitive.

Conjugation Rules for Regular -ir Verbs

Simple Present Tense Endings

To talk about something being done presently, drop the -ir and add one of these endings. English often uses the present continuous (example below with abrir) instead of the simple present, so you’ll end up using the simple present a lot more often in Spanish than you do in English. In English, the simple present often has an implied regularity or habitual connotation to it. This is not the case with the Spanish simple present.

I am opening (pres. cont.) / I open (simple present) = Yo abro (simple present)

Person Present ending
yo -o
él/ella/Ud. -e
nosotros -imos
vosotros -ís
ellos/ellas/Uds. -en

Ex.: Abrir –> Abr -ir (to open)

yo abro nosotros abrimos
tú abres vosotros abrís
él, ella, Ud. abre ellos, ellas, Uds. abren

Imperfect Endings

Use the imperfect (pretérito imperfecto) to talk about actions that were habitual in the past or without a defined ending. For example: Salía a correr todos los días, hasta que me lesioné el pie.

Person Past tense / Imperfect ending
yo -ía
él/ella/Ud. -ía
nosotros -íamos
vosotros -íais
ellos/ellas/Uds. -ían

Ex.: Abrir –> Abr -ir (to open)

yo abría nosotros abríamos
tú abrías vosotros abríais
él, ella, Ud. abría ellos, ellas, Uds. abrían

Preterite Tense Endings

The preterite in Spanish refers to an action that has been completed in the past. In English this is what we generally think of when we think of past tense, as in the sentence “I opened the box.”

Person Preterite ending
él/ella/Ud. -ió
nosotros -imos
vosotros -isteis
ellos/ellas/Uds. -ieron

Ex.: Abrir –> Abr -ir (to open)

yo abrí nosotros abrimos
tú abriste vosotros abristeis
él, ella, Ud. abr ellos, ellas, Uds. abrieron

Simple Future Tense Endings

For the future tense, you simply add the ending to the full infinitive (note that these endings are the same for all three categories of verbs).

nosotros -emos
vosotros -éis
ellos/ellas/Uds. -án

Ex: Abrir + ending (to open)

yo abriré nosotros abriremos
tú abrirás vosotros abriréis
él, ella, Ud. abrirá ellos, ellas, Uds. abrirán

Common Irregular -ir Verbs

Many of the most common -ir verbs are irregular. These conjugations do not follow the patterns listed above, though there are some patterns in the ways that they differ. Be aware that the above conjugations won’t apply to these verbs. A few examples of common irregular verbs are:

  1. Decir (to say)
  2. Ir (to go)
  3. Seguir (to follow)
  4. Venir (to come)
  5. Salir (to exit)

For an example of how an irregular verb can differ, see the conjugation chart for the verb ir below.

What about ir?

One of the most common verbs in Spanish, ir (that’s the infinitive, not the ending) means “to go.” As you might have guessed, ir is technically an -ir verb (and not much else!). As there isn’t much of a stem left after removing the ending, this verb is irregular and follows special rules for conjugation, as you can see below.

Simple present tense:

yo voy nosotros vamos
vas vosotros vais
él, ella, Ud. va ellos, ellas, Uds. van

Imperfect (past tense):

yo iba nosotros íbamos
ibas vosotros ibais
él, ella, Ud. iba ellos, ellas, Uds. iban

Preterite (past tense):

yo fui nosotros fuimos
fuiste vosotros fuisteis
él, ella, Ud. fue ellos, ellas, Uds. fuiste

Simple future:

yo iré nosotros iremos
irás vosotros iréis
él, ella, Ud. irá ellos, ellas, Uds. irán

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