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We have now covered the bare bones of all standard and Root-Changing Verbs.  However, we need to go back a little bit to pick up a few bits and pieces before we move on to our four Irregular Verbs.

We are going to return to the matter of ‘first person singular’ variations, several of which have been mentioned already in previous articles.

The principle is this – amongst the wide range of standard and Root-Changing Verbs in the present tense, across the spectrum of ‘–ar’, ‘-er’ and ‘–ir’ groups, there is a smattering of verbs which have one form that doesn’t follow the regular pattern.  This only ever applies to the first person singular ‘i’ forms and it does not affect anything else about the verb at all.  All the other forms of these verbs are entirely regular according to which group or pattern they fall into.

Why (we might ask) do these changes occur?

Well, I am not an expert in the history of language, but the reason clearly lies in the way speech develops over a period of many years.  Sometimes certain sounds are easier to say than others and through constant repetition and usage, odd forms find their way into a language and eventually become accepted as correct.

We mentioned a familiar example in our last article – ‘tengo’ (I have).  If the verb, in this case ‘tener’, followed the complete pattern of an ‘e – ieRoot-Changing verb, then instead of ‘tengo’, we would be saying ‘tieno’.  However, in my simple way, I suspect that over a period of many years and given just how frequently people use this word, ‘tieno’ turned into something that is easier to say; namely ‘tengo’.

If you’re prepared to accept this as an explanation that’s great, if not, the only other one I have to offer you is “That’s how it is, so tough!”

The letter ‘g’ is often involved in these changes and here is a list of the most frequent examples of this:

caer (to fall) caigo (I fall)

hacer (to do) hago (I do)

oír (to hear) oigo (I hear)

poner (to put) pongo (I put)

salir (to go out) salgo (I go out)

venir (to come) vengo (I come)

decir (to say) digo (I say)

Another common ‘odd-ball’ is the word for ‘I give’ – ‘doy’, which in theory ought to be ‘do’ as it comes from the verb ‘dar’ (to give).  This will remind some people of the similar forms:

voy (I go)

estoy (I am)

soy (I am)

These actually belong to three or our four Irregular Verbs to be looked at later.

Another even stranger example is the first person singular of ‘saber’ (to know) which is ‘’.  Why isn’t it ‘sabo’?   Answer – I have no idea, but if someone would like to find out and let me know I’d be delighted!   This form is a good illustration of the best way to learn these things though and that is by constant use.  Most people learn early on in their Spanish to say ‘no sé’ (I don’t know), without ever realising that they are using an odd form at all!   

Finally on this subject, there is a particular change that occurs in the first person singular to verbs that end in ‘cer’ or ‘cir’ in the infinitive.  Here is an example:

conocer (to know, to be familiar with).  ‘I know’ (I am familiar with) is ‘conozco’ (pronounced conothko).

Here are some more examples:

parezco (I seem)

conduzco (I drive)

reduzco (I reduce).

There are quite few more – something for you to look out for!

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.