We are still working on our Present Simple Tense of verbs and the changes that they make depending on which group they fall into.

To understand how the present simple tense works we have to divide verbs into three categories:
1. Standard verbs which follow simple regular patterns.
2. Root-changing verbs which also follow regular patterns.
3. Irregular verbs of which there are only four.

We are currently still in category 1 and we have looked at the changes made to ‘–ar’ and ‘–er’ ending verbs. In this article we will look at standard ‘–ir’ ending verbs, which will mean that one main category will have been dealt with.

Let’s take a common ‘–ir’ verb Vivir which means ‘to live’. Remember that the first thing we must always do is separate the ending ‘–ir’ from the root ‘Viv.’ This is a basic procedure that we need to get into the habit of doing whenever we are dealing with verbs.

As we have seen with our previous standard verbs, the root ‘Viv’ will not vary, so we can repeat it for all six changes.

Viv Viv
Viv Viv
Viv Viv
Now for the ending changes which indicate who is the person or persons are who live. These are as follows:

o imos
es ís
e en

You will notice that these are not dramatically different from the ‘-er’ verb endings. In fact there are only two forms (1st and 2nd persons plural) which vary. I like to think that ‘–ir ‘verbs have a slight identity problem. They are inclined to copy ‘–er’ verbs and the drop of a hat.

Now let’s put our example verb together:

Vivo Vivimos
Vives Vivís
Vive Viven

I can’t resist reminding you what this all means, just in case you are losing the plot:
vivo (I live)
vives (you live – when there’s only one ‘you’)
vive (he lives, she lives, it lives, and the more formal – you live)
vivimos (we live)
vivís (you live – when there’s more than one ‘you’)
viven (they live – or more rarely the more formal – ‘you’, when there’s more than one ‘you’ to be formal to).

Now you can understand why it’s not terribly convenient to repeat all of that every time! Just in case that last one has upset you, just stick with: viven means ‘they live’ and that will be just fine!

There are of course many other standard ‘–ir’ verbs that behave in the same way; for example:
escribir (to write)
abrir (to open)
recibir (to receive)

If you remember we saw in the last article that occasionally the first person singular (I) form ‘does its own thing’. This also happens with some standard ‘-ir’ verbs: for example:
salir (to go out)
The first person ‘I go out’ is salgo, but the rest of the verb is completely regular.
Likewise conducir (to drive) – conduzco (I drive)
oír (to hear) – oigo (I hear)
oír makes some other minor spelling adjustments although it remains a standard verb.

I see I’ve got rather carried away this month, so you will be sad to know we haven’t got time to discuss oír any further.

¡Hasta el mes que viene!

Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.