Tag Archives: irregular verb



SABER is the 45th most common word in the Spanish language.

SABER is what appears to be an innocuous two-syllable verb. OK, I admit that it is irregular in certain parts and that in itself can cause some challenges. SABER causes a lot of discussion and heart-ache in Spanish lessons – this is because the word, or verb, means to know in English. However, there is also another word in Spanish which also means to know, namely CONOCER. Given the fact, therefore, that there are two words in Spanish and only one in English, gives rise to a certain amount of confusion and difficulty for the English speaker.

In such circumstances, I think the best approach is to keep it simple. SABER means to know a fact. CONOCER needs to know, in the sense of to be acquainted with.

As mentioned above, SABER is an irregular verb and I list below the key irregular parts of verb in the first person singular (the “I” form).

means I know …… this is the first person singular of the present tense.

Supe means I knew ….. this is the first person singular of the preterite tense.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of SABER.

The first one is in the first person singular of the present tense, and the second one is in the first person singular of the preterite tense.

que Londres es la capital de Inglaterra – I know that London is the capital of England.

Supe que Madrid es una ciudad muy encantadora. – I knew that Madrid is an enchanting city.

So there it is in all its complicated glory, SABER, a dual syllable irregular verb in Spanish. It causes problems, and it is well worth looking up in the dictionary – my trusty Collins Spanish English dictionary has always held me in good stead, why not give it a go? In fact, this may well be another of those opportunities to read the dictionary, which I have referred to other posts before.

Et voilà! – the 45th most common word in the Spanish language – SABER to know.


DAR is the thirty-eighth most common word in the Spanish language.

A short, snappy, monosyllabic, top drawer irregular verb.

Why top drawer? – because DAR and all of its irregular parts are one of the keys to learning Spanish and the fact that it crops up so often, being the thirty-eighth most frequently word in the Spanish language, makes learning the verb a “no brainer” (as my students might say).

DAR means to give in English and is linked into the English word donate.

My trusty Collins English-Spanish dictionary has some 25 different meanings and shades of meaning. It previous posts I have talked about the usefulness of learning how to read the dictionary and DAR is a case in point – if you drift through the various and take ,say, one and use it and remember it, slowly but surely the quality and breadth of your language will improve.

Before giving some examples of the use of DAR, I give the key first person irregularities of the verb.

DOY – I give

DI – I gave

These do not follow any real pattern as they are irregular and, as such, simply have to be learned and committed to memory. As a tip, learn them in context or in a phrase that you know you will be wanting to use quite frequently.

Here are two examples of the use of DAR

Voy a dar un bocadillo a Juan – I am going to give a sandwich to Juan

Voy a dar un paseo – I am going for a walk (literally I am going to give a walk..a nice example of an idiomatic phrase.

There it is – DAR, to give in English. An irregular must-know high frequency very common Spanish verb.


VER is the thirty-sixth most common word in the Spanish Language.

It is a frequently used one syllable irregular verb. Yes – beneath its quiet and inoffensive exterior, VER has quite a punch. Yes it is deceptive, and it pays to get to know this verb well.

It means “to see” in simple terms. My Collins English – Spanish dictionary (and this time I have use the iPad app), has a whole myriad and list of shades of meaning, totalling up to some twenty in all.

Non Spanish speakers will be aware of the various irregular parts of the verb through well known films.

“Hasta la vista” for example – vista is noun which comes from the verb meaning sight. So this expression literally means “until the sight” i.e. until I see you again.

Hotel Buenavista – is a hotel with (hopefully) good views – or perhaps it might be a case for the lawyers and the trades descriptions act.

Here are some examples of the use of VER

“Cuánto tiempo sin verte” – how long since I have seen you i.e. I have not seen you for ages. Note that the word for you has been tacked on the end of the verb.

Voy a ver el castillo – I am going to see the castle.

So, there it is – number 36 in the top one hundred Spanish words. Know it, recognise it and get to know some of its irregularities.


IR is the twenty-ninth most common word in the Spanish language.

And, oh boy, this irregular verb is a “biggy”. It is a must know, a no brainer a simple got to know …I think you get the gist!

This little, seemingly innocuous, one syllable word which hardly bothers the eye and flips off the tongue in the battering of an eyelid (caution! – metaphor mixing) is an essential building block and step in the Spanish language learning process.

IR, with a pleasant little trill on the end of the verb (or rolling r), a sound which is not easy for the maternal tongue English speaker (with perhaps the exception of the Scots), means “to go”.

This little monosyllable certainly packs some linguistic punch. My Collins English-Spanish dictionary has a whole maze of meanings and subtleties attached to it. Again, this is where reading the dictionary can again come into its own (click on the tag below, reading the dictionary for other posts where I have talked about this particular topic).

But, to cut to the chase, and to keep it simple, the basic meaning of IR is “to go”.

Key parts of the verb are:

VOY – I go / I am going

IBA – I used to go / I was going

FUI – I went

HE IDO – I have gone

I have deliberately only used the first person ( I ) in the different key tenses. Note that each part of the verb does not bear any real resemblance to the infinitive IR. And, come to that, notice how the English is also, apparently,  “all over the place”. (go, went, gone) – but that is another story for another website / blog. If however, you would like to follow this up, I would suggest that is a very good place to start.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of IR and its various parts.

Voy a ir a España – I am going to go to Spain.

Fui a Argentina – I went to Argentina

He ido a Francia – I have been to France

Iba a Bolivia – I used to go to Bolivia.

Well there it is – the muscly, mighty, powerful one syllable with the trill, IR. It is the twenty ninth most common word in Spanish.

For those competitive types amongst you, I am offering a free half an hour online Spanish lesson for the first person to respond to the question below. ¡Vamos!


DECIR is the twenty-seventh most common word in the Spanish language.

This two-syllable irregular verb is, like its predecessor at number 26 in the top one hundred Spanish words, HACER, an absolute must-learn. It could be argued that this word is like a cornerstone of your language learning. It is a sturdy buttress to the foundations of your language learning that will ensure a solid base. Again, as a top language learning tip, ensure that you know this absolute blockbuster (apologies in advance for mixing my building metaphors.

DECIR means to say or to tell.

DECIR is an irregular verb which has a dozen or so different shades of meaning according to my trusty Collins English-Spanish dictionary.

It is important for language learners to know the key parts of the verb and in the post I am going to set out what I consider to be the essential parts of this verb. I am deliberately concentrating on the “I” form (known grammatically as the first person).

1. Digo – I say or I am saying / I tell or I am telling

2. Dije – I said or I told

3. Diré – I will say or I will tell

These do not follow any pattern or formulaic rules (I think that might be why I am slightly attracted to them!)

Here are some quick examples of use of this essential key verb.

¡Digo la verdad, DECIR es un verbo importante! – I am telling the truth, DECIR is an important verb.

Dije que no lo conozco – I said that I do not know him.

There it is then the twenty-seventh most common word in the Spanish language. Know it and know it well!


PODER is the twenty sixth most common word in the Spanish language.

This really is a powerful word (sorry for those in the know the pun was intended). A real “must know”, a “sine qua non”; knowing this word, an irregular verb, is the real meat and drink of language learning.

Perhaps you can sense my fervour for this word through the prose, or my voice if you are listening to the podcast of this post. Once you start getting to grips with irregular verbs such as PODER and all its irregular parts in the different tenses, then you are beginning to make real progress.

As a top learning tip, I would make sure that you know all of the first persons (the I form) of this verb in all its various tenses and various irregular forms. If you need to help on then, then why not head over to, a fantastic website that can help you out with all sorts of verb related bits and pieces.

PODER then is an irregular verb and, according to my dictionary, (the Collins English-Spanish dictionary) has some 15 or so shades of meaning. The best translation is “to can” (I know that “to can” sounds strange to English ears but it is the best way to remember it) or the more formal “to be able”.

PODER is also a noun. El poder (a masculine noun) means power.

So. let’s cut to the chase and look at straight forward use of this noun and verb.

No puedo venir – I cannot come (puedo is the first person singular present tense)

And now as a noun

el pueblo al poder – power to the people

Well that just about wraps up this post on the twenty sixth most frequent word in the Spanish language. PODER is very powerful and will give real power to your language learning elbow if you become intimate and up and personal with it! 

hacer - to do, to make

 HACER is the twenty-fourth most common word in the Spanish Language.

And, oh boy, this two-syllable irregular verb and all of its parts is an absolute must learn for all students of the Spanish language. There is no way of getting around this one – my best advice is to know it and know it well. The dictionary will reveal all of the delights and shades in meaning of this ubiquitous two syllable verb.

A quick count in my dictionary gives well over thirty possibilities of translation of HACER. My aim, though, in these posts is to give a simple overview of the most frequent words in the Spanish language and their meanings and usage and not to compete with the dictionaries (who can anyway?). My favourite dictionary is the Collins English-Spanish dictionary. I have both the hard bound book version and the app on the iPad. Both are superb, but I am now a real fan of the iPad app because it is so quick and easy to use.

HACER, then, in simple terms is best translated into English as “to do” or “to make”.

¿Qué haces? – what are you doing / making?

I am going to leave you with just this one example today.

My best advice and, as a top language learning tip, is to become very aware of this particular verb and note down its various uses as and when you come across it. Its irregularity can be seen as a problem – to me its irregularity and lack of pattern is part of its charm and stems from the bashing about it has received from human tongues (and minds come to that).

So, HACER is the twenty-fourth most common word in the Spanish language. It is a verb which will repay getting to know intimately.


TENER is the eighteenth most common word in the Spanish Language and it deserves our attention.

But this is a very special verb, to use its correct grammatical name. It is a verb and, moreover, it is one of those troublesome verbs, or attractive verbs (it depends on your point of view) which is irregular. No, dear Spanish learners, it does not follow the regular -er pattern. Its irregularity comes from its high octane lifestyle being used so frequently, and has therefore it has really got bashed about over the years.

And, standing above all of this grammatical banter, is the magic of its range of meanings.

Oh, by the way, such was my excitement reaching TENER in the top one hundred words in Spanish podcast odyssey, that I forgot to tell you the meaning. It simple terms TENER means “to have”. But, for the English speaker, it has a large range of meanings. Indeed, my dictionary has some eighteen or nineteen meanings and nuances of meaning.

To keep it simple, however, I am just going for two key meanings.

Here are two simple, key uses of TENER with the translations.

Tengo dos hermanos – I have two brothers

Tengo veintisiete años – I am 27 years old. (Literally I have 27 years old.)

So there it is – TENER is the 19th most frequently used word in the Spanish language. A two syllable battle hardened stalwart which is a “must-learn”.


Estar is the seventeenth most frequently used word in the Spanish language.

Estar is a verb and, to boot, it is irregular (that is to say that it does not follow the normal regular -ar verb formations) and causes no end of trouble to most learners of the Spanish language, especially to maternal English tongue speakers.

So, what’s all the trouble about? To be or not to be, to quote Shakespeare, is the problem. Estar means “to be”. But the attentive to this series of posts and podcasts will know that we have already dealt with a monosyllabic powerhouse verb meaning to be, ser. See post on high frequency word in Spanish number 8 (click here

Estar means to be. That definition is simply stated, but flowing from that is a whole grammar book’s worth of scholarly debate. However, for our purposes here, to be will do.

Examples of use:

Madrid está en España – Madrid is in Spain. (Está is indicating geographic position).

Estoy cansado – I am tired (a temporary state – I am not always tired … if this was the case you would say soy cansado)

Well, it is not easy.

Ser or no ser? Estar or no Estar. I’ll leave it there – the discussion could go from grammatical to philosophical.

So, there you have it – estar the seventeenth most common word in the Spanish language.