Conjugations are sexy. The word “conjugation” shares the same latin origin as “conjugal” (as in “conjugal visit”), which in turn was a loan word from ancient Greek, meaning “to join” (or “to yoke”) together.
You can learn conjugations via conjugation tables, and in fact conjugation tables are an excellent resource for looking up specific verb forms (especially for irregular verbs). That said, it’s not exactly sexy, and it misses an excellent opportunity to learn the patterns of cojugations. Studying conjugation tables is like studying the Kama Sutra (with all of it’s individual positions) versus actually having sex. You’re going to want to do both, but at the end of the day, it’s the sex that matters.
Seducing the Verb
Think of the subject (I, you, he/she, they, we) as the seducer. Think of the verb as a lovely goddess, who wants to be seduced. All verbs end in either -AR (hablar), -ER (comer), or -IR (vivir). This is the infinitive form of a verb, the “to” form, where there is no subject. The infinitive is the goddess in all her “infinite” glory, waiting to be seduced.
I’ll use these verbs as examples throughout:
hablar = to speak
comer = to eat
vivir = to live
* The -ER/-IR verbs follow a specific pattern that is different than the -AR verbs. It’s helpful to imagine two different types of verbs (-AR versus -ER/-IR). Where they differ, I will keep a space between the examples.
yo = I
Think of this as the “O” form, as in Orgasm. The subject is me or I, so think of this as an orgasm by oneself. Or the goddess giving a blowjob, whichever helps you remember.
hablo = I speak
como = I eat
vivo = I live
* the subject “yo” is unecessary. You can still use the subject with the conjugated verb (yo hablo), but specifying the subject in this way will overemphasize the subject (“I” speak).
usted/el/ella = you/he/she
Think of this as vanila sex. This is the missionary position of conjugation. Nothing kinky going on here.
habla = you/he/she speaks
come = you/he/she eats
vive = you/he/she lives
* to avoid ambiguity, it is common to include the subject (usted habla). The formal “you” (usted) is the same as speaking to someone in the third person.
tú = you
Tú, the informal you, gets a little kinky. Everything ends in an -s. I’ll let your dirty imagination fill in the rest.
hablas = you speak
comes = you eat
vives = you live
ustedes/ellos/ellas = you (plural)/they (masculine/feminine)
Two or more people are having sex, and “yo” is not invited. It’s kinkier than the vanila sex, but not much, everything ends in -n.
hablan = they speak
comen = they eat
viven = they live
nosotros = we
You + me + a verb, that’s a threesome, and “yo” is invited. This is getting so kinky everything ends in -mos.
hablamos = we speak
comemos = we eat
vivimos = we live
vosotros/vosotras = you (informal plural)
This is so kinky they only say it in Spain. This is like an Eyes Wide Shut sex party, and “yo” is just a spectator. Vosotros even shifts the accent to the final sylable.
habláis = you all speak
coméis = you all eat
vivís = you all live
The sedecution is happening now. You’ve just learned the present tense. Here is an overview:
hablo, habla, hablas, hablan, hablamos, habláis
como, come, comes, comen, comemos, coméis
vivo, vive, vives, viven, vivimos, vivís
In latin american Spanish, there are only five subjects. In Spain there is a sixth subject (vosotros). For every tense, these five conjugations apply (six if you include vosotros).
Imperative Tense (command)
Break out the S&M gear. Spanish has an entire tense just for giving commands (sit! stand! swallow!). This gets so kinky the -AR verbs act like -ER verbs, and the -ER/-IR verbs act like -AR verbs.
*, hable, habla/hables(neg.), hablen, hablemos, hablad/habléis(neg.)
*, coma, come/comas(neg.), coman, comamos, comed/comáis(neg.)
*, viva, vive/vivas(neg.), vivan, vivamos, vivid/viváis(neg.)
* there is no “yo” form in the imperative tense, yo can’t tell yo what to do.
Imagine the verbs in sexy sci-fi outfits, with futuristic ray guns…
hablaré, halbará, hablarás, hablarán, hablaremos, hablaréis
comeré, comerá, comerás, comerán, comeremos, comeréis
viviré, vivirá, vivirás, vivirán, viviremos, viviréis
Maybe she would, maybe she wouldn’t. Imagine the verbs in the woods, in a fantasy forest that is not real.
hablaría, hablaría, hablarías, hablarían, hablaríamos, hablaríais
comería, comería, comerías, comerían, comeríamos, comeríais
viviría, viviría, vivirías, vivirían, viviríamos, viviríais
Preterite (past) Tense
What happens in the preterite past, stays in the preterite past. This is like a sexy affair, or the crazy sex you had in college and never did afterwards. This is as kinky as conjugations get. Pay attention to the ellos form (-aron and -ieron) as it’s so kinky it will influence other tenses.
hablé, habló, hablaste, hablaron, hablamos, hablasteis
comí, comió, comiste, comieron, comimos, comisteis
viví, vivió, viviste, vivieron, vivimos, vivisteis
Imperfect (past) Tense
Spanish has two past tenses. One for the crazy kinky things that you never did again, and another for the mundane every-morning sex shared between spouses. Think of this as “was-ing”: I was eating, I was sleeping. This is the imperfect past. It’s fun, it’s beautiful, but it’s not as kinky as that one-time affair in the preterite past.
hablaba, hablaba, hablabas, hablaban, hablábamos, hablabais
comía, comía, comías, comían, comíamos, comíais
vivía, vivía, vivías, vivían, vivíamos, vivíais
The great thing about Spanish verbs is that you’ll never get bored of things to do with them. They’re wonderful lovers. The conjugations get kinkier beyond your English imagination, especially with subjunctive tenses.
Spanish verbs are moody. When the mood is uncertain, hypothetical or in any way unreal, then the subjunctive tense will be used. It will likely be used when there is emotion being expressed. Here are some common introductions to a subjunctive mood:
que … (“that …)
si … (“if …”)
aunque … (“although …”)
Ojalá que … (“hopefully …” from Arabic إن شاء ألله ʾin šāʾ ʾallāh “God willing”)
In the subjunctive present, the -AR verbs behave like -ER verbs, and vice-versa.
hable, hable, hables, hablen, hablemos, habléis
coma, coma, comas, coman, comamos, comáis
viva, viva, vivas, vivan, vivamos, viváis
Past Subjunctive (conditional past)
This is the “if past”. Imagine what kinky things might have happened in the past. This is the regret of what might have been. As a result, use the super kinky preterite past “ellos” conjugation and replace “-on” with “-a”. For example: fueron, hablaron, comieron … fuera, hablara, comiera
hablara, hablara, hablaras, hablaran, habláramos, hablarais
comiera, comiera, comieras, comieran, comíeramos, comierais
viviera, viviera, vivieras, vivieran, vivieramos, vivierais
More formally, you can use this form:
hablase, hablase, hablases, hablasen, hablásemos, hablaseis
comiese, comiese, comieses, comiesen, comíesemos, comieseis
viviese, viviese, vivieses, viviesen, viviesemos, vivieseis
Future Subjunctive (hypothetical future)
In practice, this is rarely used. One normally uses the present subjunctive for the future. But there is something beautiful about a subjunctive mood in a hypothetical future, something that can’t really be expressed well in English. It uses the same basic form as the subjunctive past, but with a -re ending rather than a -ra.
hablare, hablare, hablares, hablaren, habláremos, hablareis
comiere, comiere, comieres, comieren, comíeremos, comiereis
viviere, viviere, vivieres, vivieren, viviéremos, viviereis
Present participle (-ing tense)
I am thinking, she was thinking, we will be thinking. Spanish, like English, often uses the verb “to be” along with the present participle. Ending a verb in -ing is pretty simple; for Spanish, -AR verbs will end in -ando, and -ER/-IR verbs will end -iendo.
hablando = speaking
comiendo = eating
viviendo = living
Most commonly, conjugate the verb estar (to be) according to the respective subject, for example:
estoy hablando = I am speaking
estás comiendo = you are eating
estuviéremos viviendo = we will (hypothetically) be living *
* that last example is the rarely used future subjunctive. It is difficult to express in English, it refers to the feeling of uncertainty about a future where we may (or may not) be alive. The point is, any conjugation of estar (to be) can be used with a present participle.
Past Participle (haber, the helper goddess)
I have spoken, she had spoken, we will have spoken. Spanish, like English, uses the verb “to have” along with the past participle of a verb. The verb “to have” is ambiguous in English, sometimes referring to possession (I had a car), and other times as an auxiliary verb (I had bought a car), which can lead to funny situations (I had had a car).
Spanish avoids this ambiguity. The verb haber is only used in the auxiliary sense. The verb tener is used for possession (tener un carro = to have a car). Haber is a verb dedicated to the task of helping express nuanced thoughts such as, “I had had a car” (había tenido un carro).
Haber is so common it’s usually included in most conjugation tables, even though it’s always used with the past participle of a verb. The past participle of a verb ends in either -ado (for -AR verbs) or -ido (for -ER/-IR verbs). For example:
hablado = spoken
comido = eaten
vivido = lived
Haber is irregular, but once you learn the conjugations for haber, you can use it with any verb (even haber itself, whose past participle is habido). But to keep it simple, let’s use vivido (lived) for the remaining examples:
Haber in the present (have/has)
he vivido = I have lived
ha vivido = he/she has lived
has vivido = you have lived (informal)
han vivido = they have lived
hamos vivido = we have lived
habéis vivido = you all have lived (informal)
Haber in the past (had)
había vivido = I had lived
había vivido = he/she had lived
habías vivido = you had lived (informal)
habían vivido = they had lived
habíamos vivido = we had lived
habíais vivido = you all had lived (informal)
Haber in the preterite past (had)
hube vivido = I had lived
hubo vivido = he/she had lived
hubiste vivido = you had lived (informal)
hubieron vivido = they had lived
hubimos vivido = we had lived
hubisteis vivido = you all had lived (informal)
Haber in the future (will have)
habré vivido = I will have lived
habrá vivido = he/she will have lived
habrás vivido = you will have lived (informal)
habrán vivido = they will have lived
habremos vivido = we will have lived
habréis vivido = you all will have lived (informal)
Haber in the conditional (would have)
habría vivido = I would have lived
habría vivido = he/she would have lived
habrías vivido = you would have lived (informal)
habrían vivido = they would have lived
habríamos vivido = we would have lived
habríais vivido = you all would have lived (informal)
Haber in the subjunctive present (might have)
haya vivido = I might have lived
haya vivido = he/she might have lived
hayas vivido = you might have lived (informal)
hayan vivido = they might have lived
hayamos vivido = we might have lived
hayais vivido = you all might have lived (informal)
Haber in the subjunctive past (had maybe)
hubiera vivido = I had maybe lived
hubiera vivido = he/she had maybe lived
hubieras vivido = you had maybe lived (informal)
hubieran vivido = they had maybe lived
hubiéramos vivido = we had maybe lived
hubierais vivido = you all had maybe lived (informal)
Haber in the more formal subjunctive past (had maybe)
hubiese vivido = I had maybe lived
hubiese vivido = he/she had maybe lived
hubieses vivido = you had maybe lived (informal)
hubiesen vivido = they had maybe lived
hubiésemos vivido = we had maybe lived
hubieseis vivido = you all had maybe lived (informal)
Haber in the subjunctive future (will hypothetically have)
hubiere vivido = I will hypothetically have lived
hubiere vivido = he/she will hypothetically have lived
hubieres vivido = you will hypothetically have lived (informal)
hubieren vivido = they will hypothetically have lived
hubiéremos vivido = we will hypothetically have lived
hubiereis vivido = you all will hypothetically have lived (informal)
The last few cases are extremely uncommon, but the patterns are clear and easy to understand (should you encounter them in literature).
There are three (and only three) cases where object pronouns can be attached directly to a verb.
For example, decírmelo = decir + me + lo = to tell + me + it
2. present participle
For example, comiendolo = comiendo + lo = eating + it
3. positive command
For example, dímelo! = dí + me + lo = tell + me + it
* the negative commands must follow the normal pronoun pattern.
For example, no me lo digas
For all other cases the pronouns cannot be appended to the verb. Typically, the subject is implied in the conjugation and the object precedes the conjugated verb (me lo dicen = they told it to me).