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8.4: Los pretéritos irregulares, parte 1

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    209274
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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.