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LESSON 6
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Lesson 7: Irregular Verbs: Naughty Verbs that (try to) Ruin Everything

lesson on Irregular Verbs: Naughty Verbs that (try to) Ruin Everything; ser and estar in the Spanish present tense

7.1

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Intro to Irregulars

Look at you. Face aglow. With just a few short study sessions, you’ve learned how to conjugate the vast majority of verbs in the present tense. Your confidence is on the rise.

“This conjugation thing isn’t so hard,” you say. “I’m ready for more! I want to conjugate in the past- and in the future!”

Well, pump the brakes, tiger, because we’re going to have to stay in the present for a bit.

(See what we did there? Like staying in the present moment…but also referring to the present tense. Do you get it? It’s a very, very funny joke…we hope you’re grinning.)

7.2

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Top Irregular Verbs

The bad news is that 10% of Spanish verbs are irregular verbs. Irregular verbs don’t follow the conjugation patterns that you just learned–they go their own way. While irregulars make up a minority of all the verbs in the Spanish language, many of the most frequently used verbs are irregular.

The good news is that since these irregular verbs are so frequently used, learning them will rapidly enhance your Spanish speaking and comprehension abilities.

Table of top 10 Spanish irregular verbs

Even better news: VerbMaster has wrangled together the most common irregular verbs for you to practice. Through our mastery-based intelligent tutoring system, you will have these irregular verbs down pat in no time. You’ll find some of them sprinkled throughout this Crash Course, and the rest can be found in the Conjugation Cascade.

7.3

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Ser and Estar

We’ll start with two of the most frequent irregular verbs: ser and estar.

ser present tense Spanish conjugation tableestar present tense Spanish conjugation table

Both of these verbs mean to be, but in slightly different ways. Generally speaking, ser is used when referring to permanent attributes, and estar is used to refer to temporary states.

This fact reminds us that learning a language is more than just translating word for word or sentence for sentence. It takes time and lots of contact with the Spanish language to fully understand the subtle differences between these two words. But we’ll equip you with some heuristics to get you started:

table comparing the uses of ser vs estar in Spanish language

We'll dig into each of these uses below.

Check out all ser conjugations & estar conjugations in the VerbMaster Dictionary!

6.4

How to Use Ser

First, ser can be used to state Jobs (of someone or something), Origins (where people and things are from), and to give Basic characteristics (anything you view as essential to someone or something’s being), so JOB is a nifty mnemonic device to remember that. Here are some examples:

J:
Mi padre es plomero. Mi nieto es alumno universitario. Nosotros somos aprendices.

My father is a plumber. My grandson is a college student. We are learners.
ser present Spanish conjugation example
O:
Este vino es de España. Somos de Honduras. Los alumnos son de la Universidad de mi estado.

This wine is from Spain. We are from Honduras. The students are from the University of my state.
ser present Spanish conjugation example
B:
María es muy inteligente. Este restaurante es buenísimo. Mis primos son altos y guapos.

María is very smart. This restaurant is very good. My cousins are tall and handsome.
ser present Spanish conjugation example

7.4

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How to Use Ser

First, ser can be used to state Jobs (of someone or something), Origins (where people and things are from), and to give Basic characteristics (anything you view as essential to someone or something’s being), so JOB is a nifty mnemonic device to remember that. Here are some examples:

Job:
Mi padre es plomero. My father is a plumber.
Mi nieto es alumno universitario. My grandson is a college student.
Nosotros somos aprendices. We are learners.
ser present Spanish conjugation example
Origin:
Este vino es de España. This wine is from Spain.
Somos de Honduras. We are from Honduras.
Los alumnos son de la Universidad de mi estado. The students are from the University in my state.
ser present Spanish conjugation example
Basic Characteristic:
María es muy inteligente. María is very smart.
Este restaurante es buenísimo. This restaurant is very good.
Mis primos son altos y guapos. My cousins are tall and handsome.
ser present Spanish conjugation example

7.5

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How to Use Estar

Second, estar can be used to present Status/State of being (how something is in a moment), Emotions, Locations, and Feelings. Check out these examples, and try to remember these basics as SELF:

Status/State:
La puerta está abierta.  The door is open.
El caso está cerrado. The case is closed.
La nevera está rota. The fridge is broken.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
Emotion:
Yo estoy triste, pero ella está felíz. I am sad, but she is happy.
Nosotros estamos emocionados por la excursión. We are excited about the excursion.
Ella está nerviosa por su entrevista de trabajo. She is nervous about her job interview.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
Location:
¿Estás en tu casa?  Are you home?
Estamos ahora en el colegio. We are now at school.
Mi padre está en Bilbao. My father is in Bilbao.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
Feeling:
Creo que estoy enfermo. I think I am sick.
Javier está mal de estómago. Javier has a stomachache.
Ay, profe, estamos todos confundidos. Oh, professor, we are all confused.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
S:
La puerta está abierta. El caso está cerrado. La nevera está rota.

The door is open.
The case is closed. The fridge is broken.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
E:
Yo estoy triste, pero ella está felíz. Nosotros estamos emocionados por la excursión.

I am sad, but she is happy.
We are excited about the excursion.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
L:
¿Tú estás en tu casa? Estamos ahora en el colegio. Mi padre está en Bilbao.

You're home?
We are now at school. My father is in Bilbao.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
F:
Creo que estoy enfermo. Javier está mal de estómago. Ay, profe, estamos todos confundidos.

I think I am sick.
Javier has a stomachache. oh, professor, we are all confused.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
S:
La puerta está abierta. El caso está cerrado. La nevera está rota.

The door is open. The case is closed. The fridge is broken.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
E:
Yo estoy triste, pero ella está felíz. Nosotros estamos emocionados por la excursión.

I am sad, but she is happy. We are excited about the excursion.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
L:
¿Tú estás en tu casa?Estamos ahora en el colegio. Mi padre está en Bilbao.

You're home? We are now at school. My father is in Bilbao.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
F:
Creo que estoy enfermo. Javier está mal de estómago. Ay, profe, estamos todos confundidos.

I think I am sick. Javier has a stomachache. oh, professor, we are all confused.
estar present Spanish conjugation example
S:
La puerta está abierta. El caso está cerrado. La nevera está rota.
E:
Yo estoy triste, pero ella está felíz. Nosotros estamos emocionados por la excursión.
L:
Estamos ahora en el colegio. ¿Tú estás en tu casa? Mi padre está en Bilbao.
F:
Creo que estoy enfermo. Javier está mal de estómago. Ay, profe, estamos todos confundidos.

Again, these are the most basic elements of ser and estar. Could we spend more time on it? Absolutely. The most important thing to do right now is install these conjugations in your brain so you can start to recognize them in context and practice them without struggling with recall.

Practice Time!

The only way to master these verbs is through targeted practice. Fortunately for you, VerbMaster’s intelligent tutoring system makes conjugation practice a breeze!

In this session, you’ll practice conjugating ser and estar in the present tense.
So what are you waiting for? Get to studying, you’re on your way to becoming a VerbMaster!

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