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More or ‘e – i’ Root-Changing Verbs

We finished off last month’s article on our third category of root-changing verbs, namely ‘e – I’.  This root change only occurs in the ‘-ir’ group of verbs and as we said, some of the most common ones are:  decir (to say, to tell)

pedir (to ask for, to order)

medir (to measure)

seguir (to follow, to continue)

repetir (to repeat)

We looked at the example pedir (or ask for, to request, to order) and that is where we will start off from, as it is a nice clear one to understand:

pido pedimos

pides pedís

pide piden

As you can see, there are certain constants here which apply to all root-changing verbs.  The first is, of course, that the endings are the same as for all ‘-ir’ verbs.  The second is that the root changes, in this case ‘e – i’, occur in the first, second and third persons singular and the third person plural.

pido, pides, pide, piden

The first and second persons plural revert to the same root as the infinitive of the verb

pedimos, pedís

Finally, the beat or emphasis in each case falls on the changed roots where they occur and on the endings –imos and –ís where the root change doesn’t occur.

All of that is identical in principle to all other Root-Changing verbs.  The part that perhaps makes these ‘e – i’ verbs appear more confusing is that there is an inverse relationship between what is happening to the root and what is happening to the endings, since the –ir verb endings involve the letter ‘e’ except in first and second persons plural where they involve the letter ‘i’, giving us:

pides’ (you order – singular you)

pedís’ (you order – plural you)

Quite a few articles ago I mentioned the fact that there are some verbs in all of these categories and groups; both standard and Root-Changing, which ‘do their own thing’ in the first person singular.   We looked at one or two examples like:

hacer (to do)

hago (I do)

salir (to go out)

salgo (I go out).

Another very familiar example is tener.  This is an ‘e – ieRoot-Changing verb, but the first person singular is tengo, which of course we all know means ‘I have’.

The point was made quite clearly that just because there is a variation in the first person singular, this does not mean that the verb can be counted as ‘irregular’, as they follow regular patterns in all other changes.

This same ‘one-off’ sort of variation occurs with some or our ‘i – eRoot-Changing verbs.  By far the most common is the verb decir (to say, to tell).  We hear this used constantly, so it’s one we need to understand properly.  This is how it goes:

digo decimos

dices decís

dice dicen

As you can see, we are looking at a straightforward ‘e – iRoot-Changing ‘–ir’ verb, with a variant first person singular.

To be perfectly frank, if you managed to read and understand that last statement without batting an eyelid, take it from me, you’re getting somewhere!  See you next month.

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.