ER Verbs in Spanish: Master them Without Memorizing Conjugation Tables

-ER Verbs in Spanish: Master them Without Memorizing Conjugation Tables

Does the conjugation of -ER verbs in Spanish have this effect on you?

Say no more! I’m Maura from Spring Spanish, and in this video, I’ll help you master the conjugation of -ER verbs (like comer and beber) in a way that allows you to use them in conversations; without having to memorize and remember entire verb conjugation tables! 

1. Tú y yo (You and I)

ACTOR 1
¡¿Qué es ese ruido?! ¿Qué haces?
(What's that noise!? What are you doing?)

ACTOR 2
¡El almuerzo! Hoy estoy como loca. No tengo tiempo para nada.
(Lunch! I'm like crazy today. I don't have time for anything.)

ACTOR 1
Te entiendo, me pasa. ¡No corras!  
(I understand, it happens. Don't run!)

ACTOR 2
No. Ya recojo y te respondo.
(No. I'll pick up and answer you.)

Do you notice the tense in this dialogue? Every verb is used in the present tense. Este es el tiempo en el que nos vamos a concentrar en este video. (This is the tense we are going to focus on in this video.)

So, what were we talking about? Let’s take a closer look at the regular verbs in it:

For things done by yo (I) the verbs end with an “O”:

  • No tengo tiempo para nada. (I don't have time for anything.)
  • Te entiendo. (I understand.)
  • Ya recojo y te respondo. (I'll pick up and answer you.)

For things done by(you), the verb ends with an “S”:

  • ¿Qué haces? (What are you doing?)
  • ¡No corras! (Don't run!)

Chunk alert!

No corras (Don’t run) can be your go-to chunk, not to tell people to actually stop running, but to tell them not to hurry! Así es como lo he utilizado aquí. (That’s how I’ve used it here.) 

There are many more chunks that can have a literal meaning and an idiomatic one. You can find many of them if you click the link in the description, where you’ll be able to access our free Essential Spanish Chunking Kit. As its name suggests, it is filled with the most common chunks used by native Spanish speakers.  

2. Conjugate the present tense

All right, so, let’s talk about the conjugation of regular verbs in the present tense. That is to say, how to change the last part of the verb, so it matches the person doing the action. 

Vamos a centrarnos en los verbos regulares terminados en -ER. (We’re going to focus on regular verbs ending in -ER.) Ser (To be) being the most important exception to these rules. Which is why Mariana has an entire video dedicated to this verb. Tener (To have) would be another exception. This time I did an entire video about tener, in case you’d like to check that. 

Here’s your table. Using the verb comer (to eat) as an example. You can notice the patterns which substitute -ER.


Pronouns
Present Tense
Yo (I)como
(You)comes
Ella/ Él/ Usted/ Eso(He/ She/You (formal)/ It)come
Nosotras/ Nosotros(We)comemos
Ustedes/ Ellas/ Ellos/(You/They)comen
  • Yo uses an “O”: como
  • uses an “S”: comes
  • Ella, Él, Usted y Eso remove the “R”: come
  • Nosotras/Nosotros use “mos”: comemos
  • Ustedes, Ellas y Ellos use an “N”: comen

Don’t go crazy trying to learn the table, though. This is just to give you an idea. Aprender los chunks de este video es una forma mucho más efectiva de trabajar con la retención natural de tu cerebro. (Learning the chunks in this video is a far more effective way to work with your brain’s natural retention.)

Mariana has many videos on specific tenses, including one on the present tense for irregular verbs, that you can check for more useful tricks and chunks!

A good trick I can share with you right now, though, would be to learn the examples from this dialogue by heart, as a chunk, using flash cards. As shown here:

FRONT: No ___________ para nada. (I don’t ________ for anything.)

BACK: No tengo tiempo para nada. (I don’t have time for anything.)

Por supuesto, no se trata de aprender todas las conjugaciones simplemente memorizando chunks con tarjetas. (Granted, this isn’t about learning all the conjugations just by memorizing chunks with flashcards.) But, it is about helping to imprint the general pattern on your brain, so they can start rolling off your tongue in conversations!

3. Él, ella, eso, usted (He, she, that, you (formal))

Before I forget, watch until the end if you want to get five perfect chunks to make flashcards with and nail down -ER verbs!

ACTOR 1
Ajá, pero ¿quiere ir o no?
(Aha, but does he want to go or not?)

ACTOR 2
Esa es la cosa. Responde que sí, pero luego no lee los mensajes.
(That's the thing. He answers yes, but then doesn't read the messages.)

ACTOR 1
¿Será que no entiende que necesitamos saber?

(Could it be that he doesn't understand we need to know?)

ACTOR 2
Quizás. Aunque mi teléfono no enciende bien y a veces no entran las llamadas. ¿Y si me llamó?
(Maybe. Although my phone does not turn on properly and sometimes calls don't come in. What if he called me?)

I’m sure you’ve noticed there are no él (he), ella (she) etcetera to be found. ¡Esa es la gracia! (That’s the beauty of it!) They all use the same ending pattern and as long as the other person knows who you’re talking about, you do not need to add the pronoun.

So we have:

  • ¿Quiere ir o no? (Does he want to go or not?)

And only they know if they’re talking about a she or he. Probablemente no sea un “eso” ya que no tendría ningún sentido. (Probably not an “it” since it wouldn’t make any sense.) And it’s not usted (formal you) because the person answering talks about another person and not themselves.  

  • Responde que sí, pero luego no lee los mensajes. (He answers yes, but then doesn't read the messages.)
  • ¿Será que no entiende que necesitamos saber? (Could it be that he doesn't understand we need to know?)
  • Aunque mi teléfono no enciende bien. (Although my phone does not turn on properly.)

The pattern you must have noticed is that for he, she, it, or the formal form of you, the verb ends with an “E”. 

4. Nosotros/as, ustedes, ellos/as (we, you and they)

ACTOR 1
Es que nosotras no nos ponemos tacón alto, pero ellas no lo entienden.
(It's just that we don't wear high heels, but they don't understand.)

ACTOR 2
¡Total! Ellas creen que todas nos vestimos igual.
(Totally! They think we all dress alike.)

ACTOR 1
Y que aprendimos lo mismo de la última vez que fuimos.
(And that we learned the same from the last time we went.)

ACTOR 2
Eso. Que hagan lo que quieran, yo me voy en zapatos deportivos.
(That. Let them do what they want, I'm going in sneakers.)

Luckily, gender is not important when it comes to verbs, so just associate “mos” with us.

  • Es que nosotras no nos ponemos tacón alto. (It's just that we don't wear high heels.)
  • Y que aprendimos lo mismo. (And that we learned the same.)

And associate ustedes (you) and ellos, ellas (they) with the letter “N”:

  • Ellas no lo entienden. (They don't understand.)
  • Ellas creen que todas nos vestimos igual. (They think we all dress alike.)
  • Que hagan lo que quieran. (Let them do what they want.)

¿Sabes qué te ayudará a esto? Escuchar un montón de español, porque tu cerebro empezará a hacer estas asociaciones por sí mismo. (You know what will help you with this? Listening to a ton of Spanish, because your brain will start to make these associations itself.) Sabrás inconscientemente si algo es correcto o no -al igual que lo haces con tu lengua materna- porque has escuchado la forma correcta de decirlo muchas veces. (You will know subconsciously if something is right or not – just like you do for your native language – because you have heard the right way to say it so many times.)

Great! So, for a bit of humble practice, try filling in the gaps of the next chunks with the verb given. Maybe even turn them into flashcards! 

Y, como siempre, deja la respuesta en los comentarios si quieres que las revise por ti (And, as always, leave the answer in the comments if you want me to check them for you.)

  • ¡Qué difícil! No lo ________ (entender). (How hard! I don't (understand).)
  • El suelo esta mojado. ¡No ______! (correr) (The floor is wet. Don’t (run)!)
  • Ella es vegetariana, no ________ carne (comer). (She is vegetarian, she does not (eat) meat.)
  • Nosotras no _________ alcohol antes de las 5:00pm. (beber) (We don’t (drink) alcohol before 5:00pm.)
  • Ellos ____ venir. ¿Los invito? (querer) (They (want) to come. Do I invite them?)

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