My first 30 Spanish verbs

Spanish verbs first 30

What are you doing?!?

As you learn a new language, you’ll discover new words and expressions as well as subtle differences in meanings. To help you express yourself accurately, in this lesson we’re going to look at some of the most frequently-used verbs in the Spanish language.

This lesson forms part of Hablarama’s Basic Spanish course which gives beginner-level students a gentle introduction to Spanish.  Written by experienced,  bi-lingual teacher, Aurora Ielpi, the course covers everything from introducing yourself, to giving directions, and what to say when you don’t understand anything at all!

The top 30 Spanish verbs

Tackling verbs

A common way of studying verbs is separating them into three groups according to their infinitive. There are three types of infinitives in Spanish: -ar, -er and -ir. (An infinitive is the form of the verb that appears in the dictionary. That is to say, it is the base form)

Here are 30 of the most common Spanish verbs.

-AR -ER -IR
llamar (call)

llamarse (call oneself)

quedar  (stay/meet)

quedarse (remain/stay)

mirar (watch)

trabajar (work)

estudiar (study)

hablar (speak)

casarse (marry)

pensar (think)

estar (be)

empezar (start)

terminar (finish)

jugar (play)

nacer (to be born)

leer (read)

ser (be)

tener (have)

saber (know)

querer (want)

conocer (know)

poder (be able to)

hacer (do)

haber (have)

comer (eat)

vivir (live)

ir (go)

irse (leave/depart)

morir (die)

escribir (write)

The table shows the infinitive form of each verb.  The endings of verbs change to show person (yo, , él), number (singular and plural) and tense (present, past, future). Verb endings convey so much information that it is usual to omit the subject altogether in Spanish. Verb endings are the key to avoiding communication problems. If you’re not sure of a conjugation, use an online dictionary or a dedicated verb conjugator such as this one by Spanish Dict. A good dictionary should show you a list of all the conjugations (endings) of each verb in each tense.

Give me some context!

But why don’t we try a different approach? Of course, conjugations are important, but so is meaning. Let’s look at the list below

Momentos en la vida Ocio y tiempo libre Estados Procesos mentales y deseos Cambio de significado
Nacer en un lugar/año

Vivir en una ciudad

Trabajar en una empresa

Estudiar en la universidad

Casarse con una persona

 

Leer libros

Mirar películas

Jugar al fútbol

Hacer deporte

 

Hablar idiomas

Ser inteligente

Estar en un lugar

Tener hijos

Poder viajar

 

Haber algo en un lugar

 

 

Conocer un país/ una persona

Saber de un tema

Pensar un plan

Querer a alguien / hacer algo

llamar – llamarse

ir – irse

quedar – quedarse

The table shows verbs grouped together by topics. This way you can learn them by putting them in their own context and by remembering the words that usually go with each verb. This dog might help you by telling you “I really love you!”.

Real life examples

The phrase Te quiero appears in the song “Limón y sal” by Mexican artist Julieta Venegas. In true Mexican style, Julieta tells you that she loves you with lemon and salt!

 

Enrique Iglesias also uses the verb querer in his popular song “Bailando”. In the chorus Enrique sings the things he wants to do. Try listening to the lyrics and see if you can find out what those things are. This song is also great to remember that in Spanish the phrase “with you” becomes contigo, and “with me” conmigo.

 

Check out our series of videos on Spanish phrases to see more examples of how many of these basic verbs are used by native speakers.

Verbs that change meaning

Some verbs in Spanish can change their meaning if they are preceded by a reflexive pronoun. For example, to say your name you say Me llamo… To say you’ll call someone on the phone, you’d say Te llamo. The pronoun is not reflexive anymore, the verb does not refer to a person’s name. Without the reflexive pronoun, the verb’s meaning has changed.

Another verb with different meanings is ir. If you want to say you’re leaving, you’d say: me voy.

If you want to say you’re going somewhere, no pronoun is needed.

Should I stay or should I go?

When in doubt whether to stay or to go, you’ll need pronouns to say so!

But if meeting your friends, the pronoun in quedar disappears!

In summary

The list of verbs we’ve seen in this lesson is helpful when it comes to starting communicating and expressing yourself in Spanish. Being aware of some changes in meanings will help you to understand others and make yourself understood.

Where now?

Take a look at the rest of the classes in this Basic Spanish course, or if you are feeling brave, see if you can understand the young Spaniards we’ve interviewed for our Real Spanish Videos.