Resources and exercises

Defective verbs in Spanish

Verbos defectivos en español

lightning storm in night sky

Siempre relampaguea mucho antes de la tormenta.
It always flashes long before the storm.

There are many categories of Spanish verbs as you can see in our different webpages. This lesson will focus on verbs that are called “defective” or “incomplete” because they do not have all the personal forms or tenses as most verbs do. On this page you will learn which are the most common defective verbs, and about two subcategories: impersonal and bipersonal verbs. Use the exercise below to practice the use of defective verbs in Spanish.

In general, defective verbs do not have complete conjugation due to the fact that they lack some personal forms or some tenses.

Impersonal verbs

These verbs are only conjugated in the third person singular form, and in general they refer to nature and weather.

Infinitive Conjugated verb
in the present tense
Conjugated verb
in the past tense
English translation
Haber Hay Hubo There is/are. There was/were.
Llover Llueve Llovió It's rainy. It rained.
Nevar Nieva Nevó It's snowing. It snowed.
Amanecer Amanece Amaneció To rise (the sun)
Atardecer Atardece Atardeció To get dark.
(opposite of “amanecer”).
Tronar Truena Tronó To thunder
Relampaguear Relampaguea Relampagueó To flash

Bipersonal verbs

These verbs are only conjugated in the third person singular and the plural.

Infinitive Conjugated verb
in the present tense
Conjugated verb
in the past tense
English translation
Acaecer Acaece Acaeció To happen
Acontecer Acontece Aconteció To happen
Atañer Atañe Atañió To have to do with
Suceder Sucede Sucedió To happen

Examples of bipersonal verbs in context

  • Llovió esta mañana en toda la ciudad. It rained all morning throughout the city.
  • Este año nevó más que el año pasado. This year it rained more than last year.
  • Siempre relampaguea mucho antes de la tormenta. It always flashes long before the storm.
  • Me desperté cuando amaneció. I woke up when the sun rose.
  • Solía dormir hasta tarde. I was wont to sleep til late.
  • Este problema acaeció de una forma sorprendente. This problem occured in a surprising way.
  • Creo que es una información que no nos concierne. I think this information does not have to do with us.
  • Aconteció otra situación difícil. Another difficult situation happened.
  • No nos quedamos en la reunión por que la información no nos atañe. We didn't stay in the meeting because the information does not have to do with us.

Other defective verbs

There are some other defective verbs that don't fall into either of the above categories. Here you have some examples:

  • Balbucir - to stammer.
  • Concernir - to concern.
  • Soler - to be wont to.
  • Garuar - to drizzle.

Interactive grammar exercise on defective verbs

Write the correct form of each verb in the present tense or the preterite tense.

1. Ayer (relampaguear)  quiz answermucho,pero no (llover)  quiz answer.

2. En estos días (anochecer)  quiz answerrápido.

3. Ellos (soler)  quiz answervisitar a su familia cada semana.

4. El fin de semana pasado (ocurrir)  quiz answerun evento único.

5. Aquí no (nevar) nunca. Nunca  quiz answer

6. (Acaecer)  quiz answeren aquellos días una gran sequía.

7. En aquellos tiempos (acontecer)  quiz answerun milagro.

8. Siempre que (amanecer)  quiz answerpuedo escuchar el canto de los pájaros.

9. Me da miedo cuando (tronar)  quiz answermucho durante la tormenta.

10. Esa información no te (atañer)  quiz answera ti.


 

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