Lesson 14: Changing Stem Verbs

Spanish Grammar (See webpage for complete content)

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18. Stem-Changing Verbs / Verbos que cambian de raíz

All Spanish verbs have a stem (la raíz) and an ending (-ar, -er, -ir): pensar, volver, pedir. There is a large group of verbs that change their stem in the present tense when the stem vowel is stressed. There are three types: those that change -e to -ie-, those that change -o- to -ue- and those that change -e- to -i-:

to think: to come back: to ask (for):
pensar (ie)
pienso
piensas
piensa
pensamos
pensáis
piensan
volver (ue)
vuelvo
vuelves
vuelve
volvemos
volvéis
vuelven
pedir (i)
pido
pides
pide
pedimos
pedís
piden

Common verbs following these patterns in the present tense:
e > ie: cerrar, comenzar, empezar, entender, pensar, perder, preferir, querer, sentir
e > i: elegir, (im)pedir, seguir, servir, (son)reír
o > ue: contar, dormir, encontrar, morir, mostrar, poder, resolver, volar, volver

Jugar has a different stem change, from u to ue in the same places:
juego, juegas, juega, jugamos, jugáis, juegan.

Note: All -ir stem-changing verbs change their stems in other tenses (see appendix A).