Thursday, July 29, 2010

Irregular -ar Verbs

As opposed to the regular verb conjugations, we also have verb conjugations that are irregular. Let's look at -ar verbs and their irregularities, which are fewer existent than their -er and -ir counterparts.

First, let's revisit an example of a regular verb: the verb hablar. This verb has a regular format of conjugation:

Yo hablo. I speak.

Tú hablas. You speak.

Ud. habla. You(formal) speak.

Nosotros hablamos. We speak.

Vosotros habláis. You(familiar) speak.

Ellos hablan. They speak.


Now, let's look at an irregular verb. The verb becomes irregular because there is a stem-change involved in the root when it is conjugated. The first verb to review is the verb jugar - to play. Jugar has a stem change of (u--->ue), which means when conjugating, the vocal u changes to a ue. Only the nosotros and vosotros forms do not exhibit this change.

The conjugation with the new stem is as follows:

yo juego I play

tú juegas you play

él juega he plays

nosotros jugamos we play

vosotros jugáis you all play

ellos juegan they play


As far as -ar verbs go, the (u--->ue) stem change is unique to the verb jugar, so you won't see anymore of those.

Another unusual stem change is in the verb acertar - to guess right. The root change formula is (e--->ie), which is one of the more common irregularities. Following the same procedure for the verb above, replace every e with ie, except in the nosotros and vosotros conjugations.

yo acierto I guess right

tú aciertas you guess right

ella acierta she guesses right

nosotros acertamos we guess right

vosotros acertáis you(plural) guess right

ellos aciertan they guess right


Other -ar verbs that have a (e--->ie) stem change are pensar - to think, apretar - to squeeze, empezar - to begin, confesar - to confess, governar - to govern, cerrar - to close, and atravesar - to cross.

One other stem change to look out for in -ar verbs is (o--->ue), which is found in verbs like encontrar - to find and almorzar - to eat lunch.

How do you know if a verb is going to exhibit an irregular stem change, asks a confused Spanish student? Well, the simple answer is by experience. It takes years to master fluency in Spanish, and as time goes on you'll be able to recall verbs that carry with them the above-mentioned stem changes. However, in certain Spanish-English dictionaries, they will also accompany the translation with the stem change formula as a guide for you.

Sigue estudiando,

Professor Joel

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