Introduction to Spanish verbs:
the present tense of -ar verbs (ctd)
We'll start with the present tense forms of the verb we just mentioned: trabajar.
To form the present tense of -ar verbs, this is generally the pattern:
- remove the -ar to the stem;
- depending on the person, add to this stem one of the present tense endings:
-o, -as, -a, -amos,
This gives the following:
|you, familiar, singular|
you work (Sir/Madam)
|you (all), familiar*|
you (all) work
you (all) work
* Generally used in Spain only: see below
A few things to note here. Don't worry if you don't remember all these
details: we'll review them gradually on the next pages, where you'll
also be able to practise the present tense:
- We've put the Spanish subject pronouns (yo, tú etc)
in brackets. Spanish is a so-called pro-drop language, meaning that the subject pronouns
are normally not used except to mark contrast or emphasis (as a rule of thumb, use them only where
you'd stress the corresponding word I, you etc in English). So the
single word trabajo in itself means I work.
- Spanish has different equivalents to English you. The choice in Spanish depends
firstly on whether the person is being addressed on formal or informal
terms. "Formal terms" means roughly where you'd address somebody as
Sir or Madam, for example when addressing a customer in a shop, a teacher,
or a high-ranking boss or superior at work. The issue of which form of address to use is
actually quite complex.
- The choice of word for you also varies from region to region. In Spain, the
vosotros/as form is used as a familiar plural form, and ustedes
is a formal, plural, form of address (i.e. for speaking to more than one person on
formal terms). In Latin America, ustedes covers plural form of address
generally (both informal and formal), and vosotros/as and the corresponding verb form is not used at all. This gives the following situation:
|Form of you||Spain||Latin America|
|Plural, familiar||vosotros / vosotras||ustedes|
- In Spain, usted and ustedes are often capitalised and
written Ud, Uds.
- The verb form for usted is always the same as the "he/she"
(él, ella) form.
- Similarly, the ustedes form is always the same as the "they" form.
- The "he/she" form also covers "it" as a subject, but there is often no corresponding explicit
pronoun in Spanish. (Since "it" is generally unstressed by definition, and subject pronouns are
generally stressed in Spanish, it follows that Spanish generally has no word for "it" as
a subject!) Unlike French, where il and elle can refer to
inanimate things, Spanish ellos/ellas generally always have a human or animate
We mentioned in our introduction to Spanish verbs that
verb forms generally end in a person marker. The person marker determines the
subject of the verb (I, you, he/she etc). The
form of the present tense therefore changes depending on the person.
Next: practise these forms
On the next pages, you can start practising the
present tense of -ar verbs.
Introduction to Spanish verbs
Copyright © Javamex UK 2012. All rights reserved.