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Introduction to -er and -ir verbs

Hopefully you're now familiar with -ar verbs. There are two other main patterns that Spanish verbs can have. These are for verbs that end in -er and -ir1. It's convenient to treat these two models of verb together, as they actually behave quite similarly.

On this page, we'll look at the unstressed endings. Recall that these are the endings for all persons except nosotros/-as forms plus the vosotros/-as forms used in Peninsular Spanish. As examples, we'll use the verb comer meaning to eat and the verb partir, which we'll translate here as to leave (unlike its French counterpart, the Spanish verb partir can also be used with a direct object to mean to cut up, divide, but we'll keep the translation simple here).

The unstressed present tense endings for -er and -ir verbs are essentially the same as for -ar verbs, except that the a vowel of the ending is replaced by e (so instead of -as, the form ends in -es etc):

PersonEndingExample with comerExample with partir
I eat
I leave

you eat
you leave
él / ella
he/she eats
he/she leaves
ellos / ellas
they eat
they leave

As with any verb, the usted form (used to mean you when addressing somebody on formal terms) uses the same verb form as the él/ella form. And the ustedes form (meaning "you" plural, formal in Spain but either informal or formal in Latin America) uses the ellos/ellas form.

Practise -er and -ir verbs

Below you can practise the above forms using some common regular -er and -ir verbs. The verbs you'll use are from this list:

comer to eatcorrer to run
creer2 to believedeber to have to, must
vender to sellpartir to leave
vivir to livesubir to go/take up

Feedback Suggest a change / Cambios sugeridos

To practise, fill in the grid below:

Next: nosotros and vosotros forms

On the next page, you can learn and practise the nosotros and vosotros forms of -er and -ir verbs.

1. In a few cases, the -ir is spelled with an accent (e.g. freír).
2. creer has a very slight complication in its preterite (simple past) forms, but as far as the present tense is concerned, it's completely regular.

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