Infinitive Form in Spanish

When do you use the infinitive form in Spanish?

Let’s talk about the infinitive form in Spanish. Vamos a empezar. (Let’s get started). The infinitive is the “base form” of the verb, before the verb is conjugated. For example: to speak, to eat, to live are English verbs in the infinitive form; to + verb creates the infinitive of a verb in English. In Spanish the infinitives of verbs have three diferent endings: ar, er and ir.


Infinitive Form in Spanish


hablar (to speak)

comer (to eat)

vivir (to live)

There are three groups of verbs in Spanish. The first group of verbs that end in “ar” , a second group that ends in “er” , and a third group that ends in “ir” (many of the most frequently used verbs belong to the first group). Whether a verb is regular or irregular, it always has to belong to one of these groups.


The Present Tense

Spanish verbs function in a different way from English verbs. In English, subject pronouns such as I, you, he, etc., express who is doing the action (I clean the car). In Spanish, the ending of the verb indicates who is acting. Therefore subject pronouns (yo, tú, él, ella, usted, nosotros, nosotras, ellos, ellas and ustedes) are relatively unimportant. You can use them with the verb or not. Let’s see how this works:


How to form the present tense of regular verbs in Spanish.

It’s all in the endings. To conjugate a regular verb of the first group, an “ar” verb, we need the following endings: o, as, a, amos, an. What we do is take away the “ar” ending of the infinitive and add the new endings. Example:


bailar (to dance)

(yo) bail-o (I dance)

(tú) bail-as (You dance)

(él,ella,usted) bail-a (He, She dances, You {formal} dance)

(nosotros, nosotras) bail-amos (We dance)

(ellos,ellas, ustedes) bail-an (They dance)


(Notice that the conjugations used with él, ella, and usted are always the same. The same is true with nosotros and nosotras, and the same with ellos, ellas, ustedes.)


Let’s go see some of the most common regular


 ar verbs in Spanish

bailar = to dance

buscar = to look for

cambiar = to change

cantar = to sing

cenar = to dine

cocinar = to cook

comprar = to buy

descansar= to rest

enseñar= to teach

esperar = to wait for

estudiar = to study

fumar = to smoke

hablar = to speak

invitar = to invite

lavar = to wash

llamar = to call

llevar = to carry, to wear

mandar = to send

mirar = to look at

nadar =to swim

pagar = to pay for

preparar = to prepare

tomar = to take

trabajar = to work

viajar = to travel



Now, for the regular “er” verbs, the endings are: o, es, e, emos, en. So we do the same. We take away the “er” ending from the infinitive and add the new endings. Example:

aprender (to learn)







Notice that I did not include the subject pronouns this time, so you can get used to the idea that you don’t need them. The ending tells you who is doing the action. In the case of “Aprende español.”, you would be able to tell from the context if it meant “He (el) learns Spanish,” “She (ella) learns Spanish, or “You (usted) learn Spanish.” It could also be written as “El aprende español,” or “ella… etc. Subject pronouns are commonly left out, but they can be used for clarification.


Some of the more common regular “er” verbs:

 er verbs in Spanish

aprender = to learn

beber = to drink

comer = to eat

comprender = to understand

correr = to run

creer = to believe

leer = to read

vender = to sell

ver = to see



To conjugate the regular “ir” verbs we used these endings: o, es, e, imos, en. Example:

abrir (to open)







(The hyphen isn’t actually used – this is just for demonstrating the endings.)


Some of the more common regular “ir” verbs:

ir verbs in Spanish

abrir = to open

admitir= to admit

asistir = to assist or attend

compartir = to share

discutir = to discuss

escribir = to write

recibir = to receive

subir = to climb or go up

sufrir = to suffer

vivir = to live



Spanish, like English, has regular and irregular verbs. However, if a verb is regular in the present it does not necessarily mean that it is going to be regular in the past tense or the future tense. Just something to keep in mind.

Learn more about the Spanish grammar

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