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Irregular Spanish Verbs in the Past Tense

In this lesson we take a look at how to use some of the irregular Spanish verbs in the past tense. More than a dozen of the most common ones are demonstrated in sentences, so you can practice new vocabulary along with learnign how to conjugate these irregulars.

Irregular Spanish verbs in the preterite or past tense

The verb dar (to give) is irregular in the preterite as it is in the present tense too (Do you remember?..). It is irregular in the past because despite having an "ar" ending it is conjugated as a verb from the "er" or "ir" group.

Dar - to give

Yo di el dinero ( I gave the money)
no diste las gracias (You did not give thanks)
El dio las llaves (He gave the keys)
Nosotros no dimos el boleto (We did not give the ticket)
Ellos no dieron las maletas (They did not give the suitcases)

Note: Negative sentences are created puting a "no" before the verb.

With the verbs sentir (to feel, to be sorry) and pedir (to ask for something), notice that the "e" changes for an "i" in the forms that go with el, ella, usted and with ellos, ellas, ustedes.

Sentir - to feel, to be sorry

Yo sentí mucho dolor (I felt much pain)
sentiste mucho miedo (You felt much fear)
El sintió pena (He felt sadness)
Nosotros sentimos calor (We felt heat)
Ellos sintieron llegar tarde (They were sorry to arrive late)

Pedir - to ask for something

Yo pedí un dormitorio grande (I asked for a big bedroom)
pediste dos sodas (You asked for two sodas)
El pidió la cuenta (He asked for the bill)
Nosotros pedimos los itinerarios (We asked for the itineraries)
Ellos pidieron los libros (They asked for the books)

The verbs tener (to have), andar (to go, to ride, to walk) and estar (to be) have uv in the preterite stem.

Tener - to have

Yo tuve un vuelo muy bueno (I had a very good flight)
tuviste hambre (You had hunger / You were hungry)
El tuvo los precios (He had the prices)
Nosotros tuvimos una fiesta en el centro (We had a party dowtown)
Ellos tuvieron un viaje interesante (They had a interesting trip)

Andar - to go, to walk, to ride

Yo anduve en bicicleta (I rode by bicycle)
anduviste en la calle (You walked in the street)
El anduvo en bus (He rode by bus)
Nosotros anduvimos a pie (We went by foot)
Ellos anduvieron con sus padres (They went with their parents)

Note: Andar is a wide-ranging verb. Depending on the context, it can mean to go, to walk or to ride.

Estar - to be (location, temporal conditions)

Yo estuve en la oficina (I was at the ofice)
Tú no estuviste enfermo (You were not sick)
El estuvo en Sud América (He was in South America)
Nosotros no estuvimos en la ciudad (We were not in the city)
Ellos estuvieron contentos (They were content)

The verbs poner (to put), poder (to be able to), saber (to know something, as in facts or knowledge), have a u in the preterite stem.

Poner - to put

Yo puse el libro en la mochila (I put the book in the backpack)
pusiste el carro en el garage (You put the car in the garage)
El puso el dinero en la billetera (He put the money in the wallet)
Nosotros pusimos el plato en la mesa (We put the plate on the table)
Ellos pusieron todo en orden (They put everything in order)

Poder - to be able to

Yo no pude comprar las medicinas (I could not buy the medicines)
pudiste ir a la tienda (You could go to the store)
El no pudo llegar a tiempo (He could not arrive on time)
Nosotros pudimos tomar el vuelo (We could take the flight)
Ellos no pudieron encontrar el hotel (We could not find the hotel)

Saber - to know

Yo supe la lección de español (I knew the spanish lesson)
Tú no supiste que decir (You did not know what to say)
Ella no supo dónde está el museo (She did not know where the museum was)
Nosotros no supimos las direcciones (We did not know the directions)
Ellos supieron contestar en español (They knew to answer in Spanish)

The verbs querer (to want), hacer (to do, to make), venir (to come) have an i in the preterite stem.

Querer - to want, to wish, to desire

Yo quise comer hamburguesas (I wanted to eat hamburgers)
quisiste ir al cine (You wanted to go to the movies)
El quiso viajar pronto (He wanted to travel soon)
Nosotros quisimos practicar deportes (We wanted to practice sports)
Ellos quisieron escalar montañas (They wanted to climb mountains)

Hacer - to do, to make

Yo hice la cena (I made the dinner)
hiciste las compras (You did the shopping)
El hizo las camas (He made the beds)
Nosotros hicimos la tarea (We did the homework)
Ellos hicieron los trámites (They did the paperwork)

Venir - to come

Yo vine a la fiesta (I came to the party)
Tu viniste en avión (You came by plane)
El vino sin el dinero (He came without the money)
Nosotros vinimos con los niños (We came with the children)
Ellos vinieron solos (They came alone)

The verbs decir (to say, to tell) and traer, (to bring) have a j in the preterite. Notice the form for ellos,ellas, ustedes.

Decir - to say, to tell

Yo no dije una mentira (I did not tell a lie)
dijiste la verdad (You told the truth)
El dijo la dirección correcta (He said the right address)
Nosotros no dijimos los datos equivocados (We did not tell the wrong data)
Ellos dijeron sus nombres (They said their names)

Traer : to bring

Yo traje una guitarra (I brought a guitar)
trajiste los documentos en orden (You brought the documents in order )
El trajo una maleta muy pesada (He brought a very heavy suitcase)
Nosotros trajimos equipo para escalar montañas (We brought mountain climbing gear)
Ellos trajeron comida enlatada (They brought canned food)

The verbs ir and ser are the same in the preterite. So the context of the sentence will tell you wich one is used. For example: Yo fui a la escuela (I went to the school).....Yo fui estudiante (I was a student)

Ir - to go

Yo fui a la conferencia (I went to the conference)
fuiste a la playa (You went to the beach)
El fue en avión (He went in plane/ by plane)
Nosotros fuimos al hotel (We went to the hotel)
Ellos fueron a buscar un taxi (They went to look for a taxi)

Ser - to be  (description, professions, permanent conditions)

Yo fui una profesora (I was a teacher)
fuiste una enfermera (You were a nurse)
El fue un niño feliz (He was a happy child)
Nosotros fuimos muy gordos (We were very fat)
Ellos fueron muy tímidos (They were very timid)

Note: Ser in the preterite is not frequently used. Instead we use ser in the imperfect past (a tense that we will cover in the future).

That covers the most common irregular Spanish verbs in the past tense. Learn these and you'll be able to understand new ones - you'll notice similar conjugations for other irregulars.

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