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
yo quiero   nosotros  queremos
quieres   vosotros queréis
él quiere   ellos quieren

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
yo puedo   nosotros  podemos
puedes   vosotros podéis
él puede   ellos pueden

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
yo repito   nosotros  repetimos
repites   vosotros repetís
él repite   ellos repiten

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

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