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6.2: Los pretéritos irregulares, parte 1

  • Page ID
    75250
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    Irregular preterites, part 1

    The preterite tense is the most difficult tense to learn in terms of conjugation. First review what you learned in 5.6.0

    Now we will continue with the conjugations of some irregular verbs in preterite tense.

    Stem-changing verbs ending in -ir

    • In 4.3.0 you learned the 3 types of stem-changing verbs in the present tense: "e→i, o→ue, and e→i".
    • In 5.6.0 you learned that stem-changing verbs ending in "-ar" and "-er" are conjugated as regular verbs in the preterite.
    • You will now learn that stem-changing verbs ending in "-ir" have a stem-change only in the conjugations of "usted, él, ella" and "ustedes, ellos, ellas" (3rd person singular and plural). This stem-change is also different from the present tense. In preterite, you need to change "e→i, o→u". In the examples below, the preterite endings are in blue and the stem-change in the preterite conjugation is indicated in bold.
    Present Preterite Present Preterite

              e → ie                                    

              preferir      

    prefiero       preferimos     

    prefieres     preferís          

    prefiere      prefieren     

    e → i

    preferir      

    preferí          preferimos     

    preferiste     preferisteis          

    prefir        prefirieron      

    o → ue   

     dormir  

    duermo       dormimos 

    duermes       dormís 

    duerme        duermen  

    o → u  

     dormir  

    dormí             dormimos 

    dorrmiste       dormisteis 

    durm          durmieron  

    cooking-2519657_1280.png
    Figure 1: Ayer Blanca se divirtió mucho en la cocina.
    cat-30775_1280.png
    Figure 2:  El gato durmió muy bien anoche. 
    eat-2064922_1920.jpg
    Figure 3: El sábado pasado los camareros sirvieron comida deliciosa.

    List of stem-changing verbs ending in "-ir"

    Stem change  "e" → "i"

    The vowel highlighted in bold will have change "e" → "i" in the the conjugations of "usted, él, ella" and "ustedes, ellos, ellas" (3rd person singular and plural) in the preterite tense.

    Spanish English
    advertir to warn
    conseguir to get; to obtain
    convertir to convert
    convertirse en to become
    despedir to fire (job dismissal)
    despedirse to say goodbye
    divertirse to have fun
    medir to measure
    mentir to lie
    pedir to ask for (something)
    preferir to prefer
    repetir to repeat
    seguir to follow; to continue
    sentir to feel (regret)
    sentirse to feel
    servir to serve
    vestir to dress someone
    vestirse to get dressed
    Stem change  "o" → "u"

    The vowel highlighted in bold will have change "o" → "u" in the the conjugations of "usted, él, ella" and "ustedes, ellos, ellas" (3rd person singular and plural) in the preterite tense.

    Spanish English
    dormir to sleep
    dormirse to fall asleep
    morir to die
    morirse to die off (of something, ie: of love)

    Stems that end in a vowel for verbs ending in "-er" and "-ir"

    • Observe that the stem of "-er" and "-ir" ending verbs of the verbs "leer", "caer", "oír" and "huir" end in a vowel. 
    • A written accent is needed on the "í" for the conjugations of "yo", "tú", "nosotros", and "vosotros". 
    • The vowel "i" of the ending in the conjugations of "usted, él, ella" and "ustedes, ellos, ellas" will change to "y". This is because the endings for "-er" and "-ir" are "ió" and "ieron" (whereas, verbs ending in "-ar" are just "-o" and "-aron"). 
    Leer - to read Caer - to fall Oír - to hear Huír - to flee

    leí         leímos     

    leíste    leísteis         

    le      leyeron     

    caí          caímos     

    caíste    caísteis         

    ca      cayeron  

    oí          oímos     

    oíste    oísteis         

    o      oyeron  

    huí          huímos     

    huíste    huísteis         

    hu      huyeron  

    Note that in the conjugations above, the endings are in bold and the spelling change is indicated in blue.