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Stem Changing Verbs

En español, hay palabras que......lo siento. In Spanish, there are words that do not seem to follow the normal rules that are set out for them. When I first came across this special set of words, I thought every one of them was irregular. They are regular, but they follow their own set of rules for describing what is regular. The irregular verbs are an entirely different set of things to deal with, especially since they are only irregular in some conjugations. Anyway, lets move on to the stem-changing verbs.
I don't remember if there is a section on accentation in the proununciation menu. My last site had one, I don't know if this one does too. Anyway, under normal rules, the accent for a word without a written accent falls on the next to last syllable of that word. This does not apply when the word ends in a vowel, "R, " or "S."
When an accent is to fall on an "E" after conjugating, it changes to "ie.", when an accent is to fall on an "O", it changes to "ue.", and when an accent is to fall on an "E" in an -ir verb, it changes to "i." I know that all of this is a bit confusing. It was too mean two years ago, and it still is today. One of the many reasons I created this page was for me to better understand Spanish by explaining it to others. I believe conjugations are the area where this helps the most; especially in "nit-picky" things like this. Below is one of my famous charts giving a few examples. And by the way, the nostros (we) form doesn't change because the accent doesn't fall in the same place.
to begin (something)
to east lunch
to obtain
e to ie o to ue e to i
yo empiezo almuerzo consigo
empiezas almuerzas consigas
ud., él, ella empieza almuerza consige
nostros empezamos almorzamos conseguimos
uds., ellos, ellas empiezan almuerzan consigan

What follows is a list of some of the more common stem-changing verbs:
e to ie o to ue e to i
(only -ir verbs)
cerrar almorzar conseguir
empezar aprobar corregir
nevar contar despedir(se)
recomendar mostrar elegir
probar medir
atender sonar reír
defender volar repetir
entender repetir
perder devolver servir
querer llover sonreír
mover vestir(se)
convertir poder
divertir(se) resolver
mentir volver
sentir(se) dormir
sugerir morir

There are some irregular verbs that are conjugated like irregular verbs. They are adquirir (to acquire), jugar (to play), and oler (to smell).
adquirir (i to ie) jugar (u to oe) oler (o to hue)
adquiero juego huelo
adquieres jeugas heulas
adquiere jeuga huela
adquirimos jugamos olemos
adquieren juegan huelan

Now that we have gotten that ugly business completed, there is still a bit more to go. Make sure you have an understanding of what is above. Okay, ready? Here we go with the really "nit-picky" stuff. Some verbs requre a spelling change to maintain the pronunciation of the stem.

Now we get into some of the more interesting stuff. Still weird things to do with stem-changers, but they are a little more complicated.

Verbs ending in -uir change i to y before or and e. That is, follow the table.
construir construyo construyes construye construimos construyen
incluir incluyo incluyes incluye incluimos incluyen

With all of these forms, you need to realize that these only apply to the present tense. There are fourteen basic tenses in Spanish and a lot of them can be combined. But do not worry, not all of the tenses have spelling changes. There are also some irregular verbs that can be irregular in all tenses or just in the first person sigular (yo). Do not worry if you do not understand this right away, this takes some time and some practice. Work at it and all will be well.

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© 1998 by joseph Holder