Search 72,567 tutors
FIND TUTORS

CAR-GAR-ZAR Verbs

Written by tutor Cheryl W.

"Yo" Conjugation in the Preterite

When conjugating infinitive verbs in the preterite tense, there are 3 AR-type infinitives that change their spelling in the first person singular (Yo) conjugation.

Specifically, AR infinitives that end in CAR, GAR or ZAR have spelling (or orthographic) changes in the "Yo" conjugation only.

Why? In each case, the spelling change serves the purpose of maintaining the pronunciation in the conjugated verb that closely resembles the pronunciation of the original infinitive.

Let's look at examples.

CAR verbs

Example of a CAR verb: Buscar - to look for
[Notice that "c" changes to "qu" before adding "é"--the preterite ending for Yo] when conjugating "buscar":

busqué** buscamos
buscaste buscasteis
buscó buscaron

** If "c" were not changed to "qu" before adding the preterite ending "é," the "c" would take on a "s" sound and "I looked for" would sound like "bus-say" instead of "bus-kay."

GAR verbs

Example of a GAR verb: Llegar - to arrive
[Notice that "g" changes to "gu" before adding "é"--the preterite ending for Yo] when conjugating “llegar":

llegué** llegamos
llegaste llegasteis
llegó llegaron

** If "g" were not changed to "gu" before adding the preterite ending "é," the "g" would take on an "h" sound and "I arrived" would sound like "yay-hay" instead of "yay-gay."

ZAR verbs

Example of a ZAR verb: Empezar – to begin
[Notice that "z" changes to "c" before adding "é"--the preterite ending for Yo] when conjugating “empezar":

empecé** empezamos
empezaste empezasteis
empezó empezaron

** If "z" were not changed to a "c" before adding the preterite ending "é," the "z" would take on a guttural “j/sh" sound and "I began" would sound like "em-pay-jhay" instead of "em-pay-say."

Can you think of other Spanish infinitives that will follow these spelling/pronunciation rules? There are many!!

Here's a sample list!

Practicar - to practice           Jugar - to play Comenzar - to begin
Tocar - to touch Castigar - to punish           Almorzar - to eat lunch
Marcar - to mark Masticar - to chew Cruzar - to cross

CAR, GAR, and ZAR verbs practice quiz

I ate lunch.

The correct answer is: almorcé.

{almorcé|almorce}
I touched.

The correct answer is: toqué.

{toqué|toque}
I punished.

The correct answer is: castigué.

{castigué|castigue}
I marked.

The correct answer is: marqué.

{marqué|marque}
I began.

The correct answer is: empecé.

{empecé|empece}
I crossed.

The correct answer is: crucé.

{crucé|cruce}
I played.

The correct answer is: jugué.

{jugué|jugue}
I practiced.

The correct answer is: practiqué.

{practiqué|practique}
I chewed.

The correct answer is: mastiqué.

{mastiqué|mastique}
Sign up for free to access more Spanish resources like . WyzAnt Resources features blogs, videos, lessons, and more about Spanish and over 250 other subjects. Stop struggling and start learning today with thousands of free resources!