I think I left my poor readers in suspense last month, which means you are all now dying to know what happens to the verb ‘oír’ in the present tense.

Worse still, some of you might have gone to look it up and been frightened into thinking it is, horror of horrors an ‘irregular verb’, which in fact is not the case, although it is a little odd.

‘oír’ is one of our standard –ir verbs. It has its own ideas about what to do in the first person singular, as is the case with a number of other standard verbs we have already looked at. It also suffers from some adjustments to its spelling, in common with a few other similar verbs.

Here is the conjugation in full:

Oigo Oímos
Oyes Oís
Oye Oyen

As you will see the letter ‘y’ comes into play in three of the forms for no apparent reason, but in fact the reasons are good sound linguistic ones linked to ease of pronunciation. To put it simply, ‘oyes’ is a great deal easier to get one’s mouth round than ‘oes’.

Just to digress for a moment, there is a close relationship between the letters ‘i’ and ‘y’ in Spanish and sometimes there is a substitution of one letter for another in various word changes. The name of the ‘y’ is ‘igriega’ – the Greek ‘I’. (At least it was, but they have now changed the name of it but that’s another story!). Sometimes the ‘i’ is referred to as the ‘ilatina’ – the Latin ‘I’.

Going back to the verb ‘oír’, you will notice that in the first and second persons plural, there is an accent placed on the ‘í’ vowel to distinguish it as a separate beat from the ‘o’. Somehow I’m not sure I’ve convinced you with any of that explanation, so if that’s the case then I recommend you try out this one which works wonders for some people but not for others – ‘That’s just how it is!’

Obviously, and as ever, there is more to say about standard verbs, but I think the time is approaching when we need to move forward to look at our second category of verb which is the ‘root-changing’ one. Before we do though, it is a while since you have had any homework, and also I think it would be a good idea to see some of these verbs in action in sentences. Here are some disconnected phrases for you to translate whilst you admire their verbs at the same time.

Mi marido lee el periódico todos los días.
Mi hijo sale los sábados por la noche.
¿A qué hora coméis normalmente?
Los chicos cocinan cuando están en el campo.
No oigo mi móvil.
¿Escribes en español y en inglés?
No hago las camas siempre.
Aprendo poco a poco.
Abrimos la tienda a las 9 de la mañana.
¿Dónde vivís?

Answers and explanations will be duly offered next month for your delight and curiosity.

See you then!

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.