Stem-Changing Verbs

Verbos con cambio radical

Verbs with two different stems or radicals in the present tense may be called stem-changing verbs, shoe verbs, or boot verbs. The last two names come from the fact that a line drawn around the stem-changed, present tense conjugations (all forms except nosotros and vosotros) creates a shoe or boot.

The endings for stem-changing verbs are the same as for regular -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs, so you should make sure that you understand those conjugations before working on this lesson.

Spanish has three different stem-changing patterns:

1. E changes to IE

QUERER – to want
yoquiero nosotros queremos
quieres vosotrosqueréis
élquiere ellosquieren

Similarly-conjugated verbs (note that there are -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs in this category):

Spanish verb perder

advertir to warn
ascender to go up
atravesar to cross
cerrar to close
comenzar to begin
descender to go down
despertarse to wake up
divertirse to have fun
empezar to begin
entender to understand
mentir to lie
pensar to think
perder to lose
preferir to prefer
quebrar to break
querer to want
recomendar to recommend
sentarse to sit down
sentir to feel

2. O changes to UE

PODER – can, to be able to
yopuedo nosotros podemos
puedes vosotrospodéis
élpuede ellospueden

Similar verbs (there are -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs in this category):

Spanish verb volar

acostarse to go to bed
almorzar to eat lunch
contar to count
costar to cost
doler to hurt
dormir to sleep
encontrar to find
jugar* to play
morir to die
mostrar to show
oler** to smell
probar to try
recordar to remember
soler to be used to
volar to fly
volver to return

* In jugar, the U changes to UE (juego, juegas…)

** In oler, the O changes to HUE (huelo, hueles…)

3. E changes to I

REPETIR – to repeat
yorepito nosotros repetimos
repites vosotrosrepetís
élrepite ellosrepiten

Similar verbs (only -IR verbs in this category):

Spanish verb pedir

despedirse to say good-bye
gemir to moan, groan
impedir to prevent
medir to measure
pedir to ask for
reír to laugh
seguir to follow, continue
servir to serve
sonreírse to smile
vestirse to dress

Spanish quizzes Conjugations Quiz

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on Spanish stem-changing verbs:

* Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless Spanish account to take this test. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

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Spanish boot verbs