The Simple Present

Let's take a moment to review the difference between the simple present tense and the present continuous (also called the present progressive). There are some similarities and some differences between the way these tenses are used in English and Spanish.

Let's start with a quick review of the three categories of verbs and their conjugation in the simple present tense. Remember that all verb infinitives in Spanish end in either -ar, -er, or -ir. In the simple present tense you simply delete the infinitive ending and add the present tense conjugation ending appropriate to that category of verb. It may sound complicated, but it's really very simple. Have a look at the following table to review the simple present endings.

Simple Present of Regular Verbs

Subject Pronoun

Hablar

Comer

Vivir

yo

hablo

como

vivo

hablas

comes

vives

él, ella, usted

habla

come

vive

nosotros

hablamos

comemos

vivimos

vosotros

habláis

coméis

vivís

ellos, ellas, ustedes

hablan

comen

viven

Notice that there are some similarities across categories for each conjugation. For example, all the yo forms end in -o, all the forms end in -s, all the third person singular forms end in the vowel -a or -e, all the nosotros forms end in -mos, and all the third person plural forms end in -n. Notice how the vowels mark the infinitive category. Hablar conjugations all have a-based endings, and comer and vivir have e- and i-based endings. For the most part, -er and -ir verbs have identical endings. The only conjugations in which -ir verb endings revert to i are the nosotros and vosotros forms. Once you get the pattern down, you can conjugate any regular verb. In fact, you might remember that the conjugations of most irregular verbs have some of the elements of the regular conjugation. We'll review those in later chapters though. For now, let's return to regular verbs and the simple present.

Conjugate the verbs indicated according to the subject given. Refer back to the table if you have any doubts, and check your answers in Appendix D.

Practice: Simple Present of Regular Verbs

  • Tú ___________ (hablar) con tus amigos todos los días. (You speak with your friends every day.)

  • Yo no ___________ (comer) carne. Soy vegetariana. (I don't eat meat. I'm a vegetarian.)

  • Ustedes ___________ (vivir) en Montevideo, ¿verdad? (You live in Montevideo, right?)

  • Susana y yo ___________ (estudiar) español en la universidad. (Susana and I study Spanish at the univeristy.)

  • ¿Quién ___________ (visitar) este fin de semana? (Who is visiting this weekend?)

  • ___________ (aprender) muy rápido. (You learn quickly.)

  • Melisa no ___________ (depender) de sus padres. (Melissa doesn't rely on her parents.)

  • ¿___________ (subscribir) usted al periódico de su pueblo? (Do you subscribe to your town's newspaper?)

The Meanings of the Simple Present

It's important to keep in mind that the simple present in Spanish actually translates into four different structures in English. For example, hablo can be translated into English as “I speak, I do speak, I am speaking,” and even “I will speak.” The meaning shifts slightly according to the context in which the verb is used. Look at the following examples and English equivalents.

Hablo un poco de español. (I speak a little Spanish.)

Hablo por teléfono. (I am speaking on the phone.)

Te hablo mañana a las nueve. (I'll talk to you tomorrow at nine.)

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  3. Equivalents of the Verb “To Be”
  4. The Simple Present
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