Spanish Grammar - Stem-changing verbs

Spanish grammar lesson 15: Stem-changing verbs

A stem-changing verb is a type of verb whose ending is conjugated normally in the present tense, but whose "stem" (the main part of the word) undergoes a special change.

However, the first person plural and informal second person plural (Spain) do not undergo a stem change.

With stem-changing verbs, you will see one of the following conversions:

O to UE (U to UE for the verb "jugar"); E to IE; E to I

When the stem of the verb has more than one syllable (for example, preferir), the vowel change occurs in the syllable closer to the ending (see example below).

Let's look at an example of each type of conjugation:

Probar (to try, prove) O to UE
Yo pruebo Nosotros/Nosotras probamos
pruebas Vosotros/Vosotras probáis
Usted/Él/Ella prueba Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas prueban

Note: Remember that in Latin American Spanish, the 2nd person plural (informal or formal) is just "Ustedes."

Preferir (to prefer) E to IE
Yo prefiero Nosotros/Nosotras preferimos
prefieres Vosotros/Vosotras preferís
Usted/Él/Ella prefiere Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas prefieren


Pedir (to request, ask for) E to I
Yo pido Nosotros/Nosotras pedimos
pides Vosotros/Vosotras pedís
Usted/Él/Ella pide Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas piden


Jugar (to play) U to UE
Yo juego Nosotros/Nosotras jugamos
juegas Vosotros/Vosotras jugáis
Usted/Él/Ella juega Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas juegan


Other O to UE verbs include: contar (to count), costar (to cost), encontrar (to find), mostrar (to show), recordar (to remember), moler (to grind), envolver (to wrap), morder (to bite), poder (to be able), volver (to return), soler (to be accustomed to), dormir (to sleep), morir (to die)

Other E to IE verbs include: empezar (to begin), cerrar (to close), pensar (to think), perder (to lose), entender (to understand), querer (to want), sentir (to feel), advertir (to warn), convertir (to become), sugerir (to suggest), tener (to have)

Other E to I verbs include: medir (to measure), reír (to laugh), sonreír (to smile), vestir (to dress), seguir (to follow, continue), servir (to serve), corregir (to correct), elegir (to choose)



Exercise: Read carefully, listen to, and repeat aloud the following examples. Then identify the infinitive from the lists above.

Ellos sirven a la comunidad en su tiempo libre.

(They serve the community in their free time.)

Está bien, yo puedo entender lo que Usted dice.

(It's ok, I can understand what you say.)

Él quiere aprender todo lo que pueda.

(He wants to learn everything he can.)

Todos ustedes entienden la situación.

(You all understand the situation.)

Tú duermes sólo la mitad de la noche, debido a que tienes apnea obstructiva del sueño.

(You sleep only half the night, because you have obstructive sleep apnea.)

Ella corrige los exámenes cuando vuelve a casa.

(She corrects the examinations when she returns home.)


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