All the verbs in Spanish can be classified in groups called conjugations. There are three conjugations: the first conjugation, the second conjugation and the third conjugation.
The first conjugation is for verbs ending in –AR: hablar, bailar…
The second conjugation is for verbs ending in –ER: comer, saber…
The third conjugation is for verbs ending in –IR: dormir, vivir…
All the verbs in Spanish have one of these three endings.
If we want to find out the conjugation of a verb, we must look at the infinitive of this verb and see its ending. If we remove the ending of the verb (which will be –ar, –er or –ir, as said before), the stem of the verb will remain.
We are going to see this with an example. If we have the Spanish regular verb comer (to eat), we see that its ending is -er, and this indicates that it belongs to the second conjugation. If we remove the ending, we have the stem of the verb, which is com-.
We need to know this because Spanish regular verbs are conjugated with the stem of the verb and the endings of each tense. We are going to conjugate the verb comer in the present simple tense in indicative with the stem and the endings of this tense:
tú comes – usted come
vosotros/vosotras coméis – ustedes comen
As you can see, we have chopped off the ending -ER of the infinitive, and we have conjugated the verb in the present simple tense in indicative with the stem of this verb, com-, and the endings of this tense for regular verbs: -o, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en plus the endings of usted/ustedes.
In Spanish irregular verbs the stem does change. But now we are focused in Spanish regular verbs, we’ll see what happens to irregular verbs in another lesson.
Let’s do some exercises to see if you understand this.