Stem Changing Verbs
Written by tutor Kristen H.
The Spanish language has quite an array of stem changing verbs. Though no secret trick exists to determine if a verb is stem changing or not, repetition and a few quick rules reveal a pretty predictable conjugation pattern. The following tips should help you work out any confusion dealing with present tense stem changing verbs.
First of all, you should be able to recognize which verbs are stem changing and what sort of stem change occurs. This requires a bit of memorization and repetition. Here are three sorts of stem changing verbs and ten of the most useful infinitives from each group.
|e -> i||e -> ie||o -> ue|
|conseguir (to get)||comenzar (to start)||almorzar (to have lunch)|
|competir (to compete)||cerrar (to close)||contar (to count, to tell)|
|despedir (to say goodbye)||despertar (to awaken)||costar (to cost)|
|impedir (to prevent)||empezar (to start)||doler (to hurt)|
|pedir (to ask for)||entender (to understand)||dormir (to sleep)|
|servir (to serve)||perder (to lose)||encontrar (to find)|
|seguir (to follow)||pensar (to think)||morir (to die)|
|reír (to laugh)||querer (to want)||recordar (to remember)|
|repetir (to repeat)||recomendar (to recommend)||volar (to fly)|
|vestir (to dress)||sentir (to feel)||volver (to return)|
e -> i stem changing verbs
Let’s take the verb pedir (to ask for) and look at a present tense conjugation for all pronouns. To identify the stem, simply take off the -ir, -er or -ar infinitive ending. In this case, that would change pedir into ped. Second, change the e in ped to i, which leaves us with pid. Last, add the appropriate verb ending for the respective pronouns: -o for yo, -es or -as for tú, etc. The only pronoun that does not require change is nosotros/nosotras which retains the stem’s e. Remember to take into account the infinitive ending and remember not to confuse -ar endings with -ir and -er endings.
|yo pido||nosotros/nosotras pedimos|
|tú pides||Ustedes piden|
|él/ella/Usted pide||ellos/ellas piden|
For a verb like repetir (to repeat) which has two e’s, only the second e changes. Notice again that the e remains unchanged for nosotros/nosotras.
|yo repito||nosotros/nosotras repetimos|
|tú repites||Ustedes repiten|
|él/ella/Usted repite||ellos/ellas repiten|
e -> ie stem changing verbs
The same rules used to conjugate e -> i stem changing verbs are used for e -> i. If we remove the infinitive ending from the verb entender (to understand), we are left with entend. Change the e to ie (except for nosotros/nosotras) and we have entiend. Now simply add the appropriate ending for each pronoun.
|yo entiendo||nosotros/nosotras entendemos|
|tú entiendes||Ustedes entienden|
|él/ella/Usted entiende||ellos/ellas entienden|
o -> ue stem changing verbs
As you have probably guessed, o--ue stem changing verbs work in precisely the same way as e--i and e--ie. Take off the infinitive ending for encontrar (to find) and we have encontr. Change the o to ue (except for nosotros/nosotras) and we have encuentr. Then, as always, add the correct endings for each pronoun.
|yo encuentro||nosotros/nosotras encontramos|
|tú encuentras||Ustedes encuentran|
|él/ella/Usted encuentra||ellos/ellas encuentran|
Stem Changing Verbs Practice Quiz
The correct answer is despido.
The correct answer is compite.
The correct answer is sirve.
The correct answer is pides.
The correct answer is repetir.
The correct answer is empieza.
The correct answer is pienso.
The correct answer is entienden.
The correct answer is siento.
The correct answer is pierdes.
The correct answer is almuerzas.
The correct answer is recuerda.
The correct answer is cuesta.
The correct answer is volvemos.
The correct answer is vuela.