Irregular Spanish Verbs in the Preterite Past Tense

The preterite past tense is used to relate past actions that happened at a specific moment in the past.
Nací en 1990. (I was born in 1990.)
If you plan to talk about past actions and mention the moment in which those actions occurred, use the preterite past tense.

Irregular Preterite Spanish Verbs

Here are common Spanish irregular verbs in the preterite past tense along with their conjugation.

irregular preterite verbs spanish

You will notice six verb forms, belonging respectively to the following persons: (1) yo; (2) tu and vos; (3) el, ella, usted; (4) nosotros, nosotras; (5) vosotros, vosotras; (6) ellos, ellas and ustedes. 

1. ser (to be) / ir (to go)

Ser and ir have the same conjugation forms in the preterite past tense.

– fui
– fuiste
– fue
– fuimos
– fuisteis
– fueron

2. estar (to be)

– estuve
– estuviste
– estuvo
– estuvimos
– estuvisteis
– estuvieron

3. tener (to have)

– tuve
– tuviste
– tuvo
– tuvimos
– tuvisteis
– tuvieron

4. poder (to be able to)

– pude
– pudiste
– pudo
– pudimos
– pudisteis
– pudieron

5. querer (to want)

– quise
– quisiste
– quiso
– quisimos
– quisisteis
– quisieron

6. decir (to say)

– dije
– dijiste
– dijo
– dijimos
– dijisteis
– dijeron

7. llegar (to arrive)

– llegué
– llegaste
– llegó
– llegamos
– llegasteis
– llegaron

8. averiguar (to find out)

– averigüé
– averiguaste
– averiguó
– averiguamos
– averiguasteis
– averiguaron

9. almorzar (to have lunch)

– almorcé
– almorzaste
– almorzó
– almorzamos
– almorzasteis
– almorzaron

10. oír (to hear)

– oí
– oíste
– oyó
– oímos
– oísteis
– oyeron

11. pedir (to ask for something)

– pedí
– pediste
– pidió
– pedimos
– pedisteis
– pidieron

12. sentir (to feel)

– sentí
– sentiste
– sintió
– sentimos
– sentisteis
– sintieron

13. dormir (to sleep)

– dormí
– dormiste
– durmió
– dormimos
– dormisteis
– durmieron

14. poner (to put)

– puse
– pusiste
– puso
– pusimos
– pusisteis
– pusieron

15. saber (to know)

– supe
– supiste
– supo
– supimos
– supisteis
– supieron

16. hacer (to do)

– hice
– hiciste
– hizo
– hicimos
– hicisteis
– hicieron

17. traer (to bring)

– traje
– trajiste
– trajo
– trajimos
– trajisteis
– trajeron

18. venir (to come)

– vine
– viniste
– vino
– vinimos
– vinisteis
– vinieron

19. conducir (to drive)

– conduje
– condujiste
– condujo
– condujimos
– condujisteis
– condujeron

20. andar (to walk, to go)

– anduve
– anduviste
– anduvo
– anduvimos
– anduvisteis
– anduvieron

How to Learn Irregular Preterite Spanish Verbs

To learn Spanish verbs in the irregular preterite tense you can use the following memorization techniques…

1. Organize Irregular Preterite Verbs

The irregularities that irregular preterite verbs have can be divided into two categories. Look!

E

When conjugated, some irregular preterite verbs that end in -ir, change e to i and o to u in the third person singular (él, ella, usted) and the third person plural (ellos, ellas, ustedes) of the preterite. Look!

spanish verbs past tense

Out of the 20 Spanish verbs above, which have this irregularity? Which don’t? 

The simple fact of paying attention to these details will help you memorize their correct conjugation. 

E

There is a group of verbs that have a different root in the preterite past tense and have the same irregular ending. Look!

irregular spanish verbs in the preterite past tense

Can you notice that the verbs above have the same ending?

At the same time, they all have different roots. The roots are highlighted in blue.

Out of the 20 Spanish verbs above, which have this irregularity? Which don’t?

Yes, organizing irregular preterite Spanish verbs can help you memorize their correct conjugations! 

2. Create Examples that Are Meaningful for You

Grab some of the verbs above and create example sentences that are meaningful for you. 

An example I would create would be….

● Ayer almorcé pollo y vegetales. 

The example above is meaningful for me because it is true. Yesterday, I had chicken and veggies for lunch.

Creating examples you can relate to will help you learn by heart the different verb forms of irregular preterite verbs.

3. Use My Set of Irregular Preterite Verbs Flashcards

I created a set of flashcards that includes the conjugations of the 20 irregular preterite Spanish verbs above.

Each flashcard looks like this…

ser past conjugation

Look at these flashcards. Let some time pass, maybe a few days. Then, re-visit these flashcards again.

Spaced repetition is an effective way to learn vocabulary.

Some people prefer to listen to memorize. 

Use my video to memorize the different verb forms of Spanish verbs in the preterite past tense. 

YouTube video

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