Preterite irregular verbs in Spanish

Advanced Spanish Grammar Lesson

Grammar notes on the preterite tense with irregular Spanish verbs

We use the preterite to talk about past events and facts that happened at a specific point in the time. In order to form the preterite we need to remember certain rules. We previously looked at regular verbs in the preterite; . Regular verbs have three different endings in the infinitive form, so by applying this rule you can conjugate them all. Then we have the preterite irregular verbs. The changes in these verbs do not always follow a clear pattern and so you will need to memorize many of them.

Irregular Verbs in the Preterite - Verbos Irregulares

Many of the irregular Spanish verbs in the preterite follow the same pattern. They change the stem of the verb into a different stem, and then all of them add the same set of endings. These endings are different to the ones that regular preterite verbs in Spanish share.

Here you have some examples and a list of irregular verbs with their corresponding stems:

Example: TENER (to have)

 Preterite StemPreterite EndingResult
yoTUVetuve
TUVistetuviste
Ud., él, ellaTUVotuvo
nosotros(as)TUVimostuvimos
vosotros(as)TUVisteistuvisteis
Uds., ellos, ellasTUVierontuvieron

Here you have a list of irregular verbs and their stems in the preterite. To form the irregular verb, add the endings above to the preterite stems. E.g.: TUV + E = tuve

Note: The verbs whose stem in the preterite end in “j” (e.g.: Conducir = Conduj) add the ending “eron” instead of “ieron” in the 3 rd person plural. (Eg: Ellos condujeron por la noche).

Irregular VerbPreterite Stem
andaranduv
venirvin
estarestuv
poderpud
ponerpus
sabersup
tenertuv
hacerhic (exception: Él/Ella/Usted = hizo)
venirvin
quererquis
decirdij
traertraj
conducirconduj
producirproduj
traducirtraduj
detenerdetuv
retenerretuv
contenercontuv
convenirconvin
prevenirprevin
componercompus
descomponerdescompus
proponerpropus
disponerdispus
predecirpredij
contradecircontradij
deshacerdeshic
rehacerrehic

Other irregular verbs that follow a different pattern are: SER, IR, DAR and HABER

 SERIRDAR
yofuifuidi
fuistefuistediste
É él/ella/Ustedfuefuedio
nosotrosfuimosfuimosdimos
vosotros fuisteis fuisteis disteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. fueron fueron dieron

Notes & Exercises on the Spanish Preterite

Grammar Exercises - Preterite

 

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Interactive Grammar Exercise

Complete the following sentences with the Preterite of the irregular verbs given in brackets.

Note: Try to use the correct written accents if you can e.g.: á, é, í, ó, ú, ñ, ü.

(Install "Spanish Characters" from the Chrome Web Store for easy use of accents)

If you don't know the correct answer, type '?' to reveal it.

1. Yo  quiz answerla dirección del restaurante en Google Maps. (buscar)

2. Yo  quiz answera estudiar arquitectura en 2016. (empezar)

3. Yo  quiz answer100 dólares por mis botas de invierno. (pagar)

4. ¿Tus padres  quiz answera Australia el año pasado? (ir)

5. ¿Qué tú  quiz answerque comprar para tu viaje a Sudamérica? (comprar)

6. Luis y su novia  quiz answerir al concierto el sábado. (querer)

7. Niños ¿dónde ustedes  quiz answerlos juguetes que compramos ayer? (poner)

8. ¿Qué tú  quiz answerel fin de semana pasado? (hacer)

9. Sara  quiz answerensalada de frutas para los estudiantes esta mañana. (traer)

10. Nosotros  quiz answeren la casa de Pedro desde el viernes pasado. (estar)

11. Ellos  quiz answera la biblioteca después de su entrenamiento. (venir)

12. ¿Ustedes  quiz answera sus padres sobre la reunión de hoy? (decir)

13. Tú  quiz answerdos párrafos del texto para entender mejor. (traducir)

14. Gabriel García Marquéz  quiz answerun escritor colombiano muy famoso. (ser)

15. ¿Quién  quiz answerlas lámparas de la oficina? (componer)

 

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