Spanish Verbs that End in -ar

AR Verbs in Spanish

Spanish Verbs

All Spanish verbs end in either -ar, -er, or -ir. Each of these verb categories has specific rules governing how they change to express layers of crucial information about the situation. Verbs that end in -ar are the most common, so memorizing their conjugations are a great place to start.

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 performed the action and when it occurred. 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 “amar” translates to “to love.”

Except when stacking two verbs together (“I [like] [to help]” / “Me [gusta] [ayudar]”), 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 -ar verb, drop the -ar and add the appropriate ending according to the person and tense.

For example, in the present tense you add -o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, or -an to the remaining stem after removing -ar. 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 -ar Verbs

Simple Present Tense Endings

To talk about something being done presently, drop the -ar and add one of these endings. English often uses the present continuous (example below with hablar) 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 talking (pres. cont.) / I talk (simple present)

=

Yo hablo (simple present)

Person Present Ending
yo -o
-as
él/ella/Ud. -a
nosotros -amos
vosotros -áis
ellos/ellas/Uds. -an

Ex: Hablar –> Habl -ar (to talk/ speak)

yo hablo nosotros hablamos
tú hablas vosotros habláis
él, ella, Ud. habla ellos, ellas, Uds. hablan

Imperfect Endings

Use the imperfect (pretérito imperfecto) to talk about actions that were habitual in the past or lacked a defined end, e.g., “Trabajaba todos los días, hasta que me lesioné el pie.”

Person Imperfect Ending
yo -aba
-abas
él/ella/Ud. -aba
nosotros -ábamos
vosotros -abais
ellos/ellas/Uds. -aban

Ex: Hablar –> Habl -ar (to talk/speak)

yo hablaba nosotros hablábamos
tú hablabas vosotros hablabais
él, ella, Ud. hablaba ellos, ellas, Uds. hablaban

Preterite Tense Endings

The preterite 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.” For more on how to use the Spanish preterite, see this guide.

Person Preterite Ending
yo
-aste
él/ella/Ud.
nosotros -amos
vosotros -asteis
ellos/ellas/Uds. -aron

Ex: Hablar –> Habl -ar (to talk/ speak)

yo hablé nosotros hablamos
tú hablaste vosotros hablasteis
él, ella, Ud. habló ellos, ellas, Uds. hablaron

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).

yo
-ás
él/ella/Ud.
nosotros -emos
vosotros -éis
ellos/ellas/Uds. -án

Ex: Hablar + ending (to talk/speak)

yo hablaré nosotros hablaremos
tú hablarás vosotros hablaréis
él, ella, Ud. hablará ellos, ellas, Uds. hablarán

Common Irregular -ar Verbs

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

  1. Estar (to be – for states of being)
  2. Dar (to give)
  3. Llegar (to arrive/reach)
  4. Encontrar (to find/encounter)
  5. Pensar (to think)

For a list of the most common -ar verbs and their conjugations, click here. Irregular verbs are highlighted in red in this list. For an example of how an irregular verb can differ, see the conjugation chart for the verb estar below.

States of “Being” in Spanish: Estar vs. Ser

Estar, one of the most common verbs in Spanish, means “to be.” Spanish has two verbs that correlate to the translation of “to be” in English: estar and ser. Estar is used to talk about temporary states of being, such as health or locations. Ser is used to describe more permanent attributes, such as characteristics of a person (tall/short), occupations, or where someone is from.

Estar examples:

  1. Yo estoy feliz (I am happy).
  2. El perro está en la playa (The dog is at the beach).
  3. Las chicas están ocupadas (The girls are busy).

Ser examples:

  1. eres alto (You are tall).
  2. Yo soy jardinera (I am a gardener).
  3. Él es de Perú (He is from Peru).

Being able to judge which verb is appropriate will come with more exposure to these verbs in context, which is why it’s important to expose yourself to full sentences or longer texts in Spanish whenever possible. See this page for how to use ser and estar in descriptions, and this guide on specific uses.

Note that all forms of estar begin with “est-”.

Simple present tense is irregular in all forms except nosotros and vosotros:

yo estoy nosotros estamos
estás vosotros estáis
él, ella, Ud. está ellos, ellas, Uds. están

Imperfect tense is only irregular in vosotros:

yo estaba nosotros estábamos
tú estabas vosotros estábais
él, ella, Ud. estaba ellos, ellas, Uds. estaban

Preterite tense requires a stem change from est- to estu-:

yo estuve nosotros estuvimos
estuviste vosotros estuvisteis
él, ella, Ud. estuvo ellos, ellas, Uds. estuvieron

Simple future tense is not irregular:

yo estaré nosotros estaremos
tú estarás vosotros estaréis
él, ella, Ud. estará ellos, ellas, Uds. estarán

Need more practice with conjugations? Sign up for Lingvist’s online Spanish course today to discover fun exercises for practicing conjugations and learn new verbs!