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2.8: El pretérito con cambios de raíz

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    210678
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    Stem changing verbs in the preterite

    Recall that there are -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs that have a stem change in the present tense. However, they don't all behave the same in the preterite.

    Stem-changing -AR and -ER verbs

    -AR and -ER verbs that have a stem change in the present tense, don’t have a stem change in the preterite tense. For example:

    • (devolver) Play AudioYo devolví los pantalones por ser muy grandes. (I returned the pants for being too big.)
    • (volar) Play AudioEl billonario voló a España para comprar zapatos de cuero. (The billionaire flew to Spain to buy leather shoes.)

    Or, in table form:

    Present Preterite Present Preterite

    e → ie

    cerrar

    cierro cerramos

    cierras cerráis

    cierra cierran

    no stem change

    cerrar

    cerré cerramos

    cerraste cerrasteis

    cerró cerraron

    o → ue

    volver

    vuelve vuelven

    no stem change

    volver

    volví volvimos

    volviste volvisteis

    volv volvieron

    Stem-changing -IR verbs in the preterite

    However, the -IR stem-changing verbs *do* have a change in the preterite: but it’s only in the third person (singular and plural), and -IR stem-changers will change their stem vowel to just the first letter of the stem-change they had in the present tense.

    -IR verbs that changed from “e” to “ie” in the present will change just from “e” to “i” in the preterit. -IR verbs that changed from “o” to “ue” in the present will change just from “o” to “u” in the preterit. And -IR verbs that changed from “e” to “i” in the present will do just that in the preterit.

    Conjugation of stem-changing -IR verbs in the preterite

    Present: (e-ie) Preterite: (e-i) Present: (o-ue), Preterite: (o-u) Present: (e-i), Preterite: (e-i)
    Play AudioPreferir - to prefer Play AudioDormir - to sleep Play AudioPedir - to request
    Play Audiopreferí Play Audiodormí Play Audiopedí
    Play Audiopreferiste Play Audiodormiste Play Audiopediste
    Play Audioprefirió Play Audiodurmió Play Audiopidió
    Play Audiopreferimos Play Audiodormimos Play Audiopedimos
    Play Audiopreferisteis Play Audiodormisteis Play Audiopedisteis
    Play Audioprefirieron Play Audiodurmieron Play Audiopidieron
    • Play Audio¿Pediste unas prendas de ropa de Zara.com? (Did you order/request some clothing from Zara.com?)
    • Play AudioNo, pero Luisa pidió mucha ropa de ese sitio. (No, but Luisa ordered lots of clothes from that site.)
    • Play AudioElla se vistió de pies a cabeza con ropa de Zara.com. (She dressed from head to toe in clothes from Zara.com.)

    The best way to learn these conjugations is to say them out loud until they sound right to you. Practice, and train your ear! Once you hear the endings and changes right in your head, you’ll be able to spell them right on the page.

    Some common stem-changing -IR verbs

    cooking-2519657_1280.png cat-30775_1280.png eat-2064922_1920.jpg
    Ayer Blanca se divirtió mucho en la cocina. El gato durmió muy bien anoche. El sábado pasado los camareros sirvieron comida deliciosa.
    Stem change "e" → "i"

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

    The vowel highlighted in bold will change the "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 verbs leer, caer, oír and huir end in a vowel: le-, ca-, o-, and hu-.
    • For verbs like these, a written accent is needed on the "í" for the conjugations of yo, , and nosotros.
    • Also for verbs like these, 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

    le       leyeron

    caí           caímos

    caíste

    ca       cayeron

    oí           oímos

    oíste

    o       oyeron

    huí           huímos

    huíste

    hu       huyeron

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

    Videolección

    By clicking the icon below, you can hear a video lesson about conjugating stem changing verbs in the preterite.

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    ¡A practicar!

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    This page excerpted, remixed, and adapted from 4.7: Pretérito con cambios de raíz by Erica Brown, Alejandra Escudero, María Cristina Montoya, & Elizabeth Small (OER SUNY), licensed under CC BY 4.0, and from 5.6: El pretérito de los verbos regulares, 6.2: Los pretéritos irregulares, parte 1, and 6.2.1: Práctica- Los pretéritos irregulares, parte 1 by M. Barrio De Mendoza, K Gutiérrez, H.Ho, C. Lin, & A Stere Lugo through ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.


    2.8: El pretérito con cambios de raíz is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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