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Grammar - The Irregular Verbs - Head Scratching

This Spanish Easy Review grammar quiz takes a look at irregular verbs. If you have already taken the Spanish Easy Review quizzes on conjugating verbs (ar, er and ir verbs) in the present tense, and especially the quiz entitled Conjugating Irregular Verbs, you know that there will be many instances where you will simply have to memorize how a verb is to be conjugated. That is because there is no hard fast rule to follow. Unfortunately, Spanish has many irregular verbs. At this point you should know how to conjugate tener (to have), hacer (to make), ver (to see), and ir (to go).

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So now let’s take a look at four more irregular verbs and how they need to be conjugated in the present tense.

DECIR (to tell)

Pronoun Present Tense English Meaning
yo digo I tell
dices you tell (familiar)
usted dice you tell (formal)
él dice he tells
ella dice she tells
nosotros/as decimos we tell (note the masculine and feminine forms)
vosotros/as decís you tell (plural - familiar)
ustedes dicen you tell (plural - formal)
ellos/ellas dicen they tell (note the masculine and feminine forms)

Did you notice that in the singular form, the de in decir became di and then it returned to de for the plural we and familiar you and then once again returned to di in the plural formal you and they? That’s kind of a tricky so, again, it takes practice and memorization. Finally, with the pronoun 'I' (yo) the 'c' is changed to a 'g'. See, it causes you to have to scratch your head! Okay, let’s move on.

DORMIR (to sleep)

Pronoun Present Tense English Meaning
yo duermo I sleep
duermes you sleep (familiar)
usted duerme you sleep (formal)
él duerme he sleeps
ella duerme she sleeps
nosotros/as dormimos we sleep (note the masculine and feminine forms)
vosotros/as dormís you sleep (plural - familiar)
ustedes duermen you sleep (plural - formal)
ellos/ellas duermen they sleep (note the masculine and feminine forms)

You bet - this is for real! When conjugating dormir the dorm becomes duerm, goes back to dorm, and then returns to duerm. It kind of rattles the brain. Don’t get too nervous though. In time, it will actually become second nature to you just like all of the strange words found in English. Now on to the next head scratcher.

SENTIR (to feel)

Pronoun Present Tense English Meaning
yo siento I feel
sientes you feel (familiar)
usted siente you feel (formal)
él siente he feels
ella siente she feels
nosotros/as sentimos we feel (note the masculine and feminine forms)
vosotros/as sentís you feel (plural - familiar)
ustedes sienten you feel (plural - formal)
ellos/ellas sienten they feel (note the masculine and feminine forms)

With this irregular verb, the sent becomes sient in the singular form, returns to sent for the plural we and familiar, plural you and then returns to sient for the plural, formal you and they. This is just another example of why you need to keep on your toes when learning to use Spanish verbs. Now let’s look at the final irregular verb for this quiz.

VENIR (to come)

Pronoun Present Tense English Meaning
yo vengo I come
vienes you come (familiar)
usted viene you come (formal)
él viene he comes
ella viene she comes
nosotros/as venimos we come (note the masculine and feminine forms)
vosotros/as venís you come (plural - familiar)
ustedes vienen you come (plural - formal)
ellos/ellas vienen they come (note the masculine and feminine forms)

With the verb venir, a 'g' is added to ven with the pronoun 'I' (yo) and then the ven becomes vien for the singular familiar and formal you, as well as for he and she. Ven then returns for we and the plural, familiar you and returns to vien for the plural, formal you and they.

Now that your head is getting sore, let’s see how well you can remember how each verb will be conjugated as it is used in a sentence. The quiz contains ten sentences with the verb capitalized. From the answers given below the sentence, see if you can locate the correctly conjugated verb in Spanish.

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  1. Mr. Wilcox COMES for the rent every Friday.
    'Mr. Wilcox comes' is the same as saying 'he comes'. The first answer shows the conjugation of the singular, familiar 'you' so it is not the correct Spanish conjugation. The last answer shows how the verb venir would be conjugated to say 'he comes' if it were a regular verb which it is not. Therefore, the last answer is also not correct. The second and third answers look to be almost the same except for the spelling. The correct spelling for 'he comes' is viene.
  2. THEY TELL everyone they see about their lottery win.
    In this sentence you do not know who 'they' are. They could be a group of all boys or a group of all girls or a mixture of boys and girls. When you do not know who 'they' are you always use the masculine form of the pronoun. The first and last answers have both used the feminine form of the pronoun. To conjugate 'they tell', the verb decir becomes dicen which means that the third answer shows the verb misspelled.
  3. WE FEEL it is important to tell the truth. (We is for a group of girls.)
    In this sentence you are given the hint that 'we' represents a group of girls. The feminine pronoun for we is nosotras which means that the third and last answers can be eliminated. The Spanish conjugated verb for we feel is sentimos which means that the second answer is misspelled.
  4. Did you see how SHE SLEEPS in her crib?
    The Spanish pronoun for she is ella which means that the third and last answers can be eliminated. The Spanish conjugated verb for she sleeps is duerme which shows that the first answer has it misspelled (as does the last answer). The second answer, on the other hand, shows the correct Spanish conjugation that is needed.
  5. I TELL my best friend everything!
    The Spanish pronoun for 'I' is yo which does appear correctly in each answer. However, the verb decir (to tell) when conjugated with the pronoun yo drops the de and becomes di. This means that the first and third answers are not correct. The second answer has misspelled the conjugated Spanish verb for I tell by adding in a mistaken 'e'. The last answer does show the correct Spanish conjugation for I tell.
  6. Will YOU COME to my party? (You refers to classmates.)
    The sentence asks, 'Will you come,' with 'you' referring to classmates. This tells you that 'you' will be plural and that classmates are more formal. The first and last answers show the Spanish masculine and feminine pronouns for 'they' so these two are not the correct conjugations needed in this sentence. The second answer shows the Spanish conjugation for the plural, familiar 'you'. It, too, is not the correct conjugation in this case. The third answer, on the other hand, does show the correct Spanish conjugation needed for 'you come'.
  7. You SLEEP on the couch in the family room. (You refers to a cousin.)
    In this sentence 'you' refers to a cousin who would be a familiar person. The singular, familiar Spanish pronoun for you is tú. This now shows you that the second and third answers can be eliminated. As the verb dormir is an irregular verb, it will not be conjugated as a regular verb. The last answer shows the conjugation of a regular verb making it incorrect. The first answer, however, does show the correct Spanish conjugation for you sleep.
  8. You can bet THEY FEEL hungry now!
    As you cannot tell from this sentence who 'they' represents, i.e. all boys, all girls or a mixture of both, you always use the masculine pronoun for 'they'. The Spanish, masculine pronoun for they is ellos. This means that the first, third and last answers can all be eliminated leaving you with the second answer which does show the correct Spanish conjugation for they feel.
  9. Mrs. Maxwell said that WE TELL many things about ourselves by the way we dress.
    In this sentence you do not know who 'we' are. It could be all boys, all girls or a mixture of both. When you don’t know, you use the masculine pronoun for we. The Spanish masculine pronoun for we is nosotros. In this case, each answer shows that correctly. Now you need to know how to conjugate the verb decir (to tell). The Spanish conjugation for we tell is decimos. This now tells you that the first, second and last answers can be eliminated and that the third answer shows the correct Spanish conjugation needed here as the 'de' in decir is used with the pronoun we.
  10. I SLEEP like a baby every night!
    The Spanish pronoun for 'I' is yo and it is correctly shown in each answer. The verb to sleep is dormir. There is no 'g' added to this verb making the first and second answers not only incorrect but each is also misspelled. When conjugating this irregular verb, the dor becomes duer showing that the third answer is also not correct. The last answer shows the correct Spanish conjugation for I sleep.

Author: Christine G. Broome

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