El tiempo presente – El Yo Irregular

They say that it takes all kinds to make the world go round. It is a bit of a stretch but that principle also seems to apply to the present tense in Spanish. In fact, a somewhat large group of Spanish verbs feature an irregular termination when it comes to yo, the first person singular pronoun, in the present tense. As it often happens with grammatical exceptions in Romance languages such as Spanish, these irregularities concern high frequency verbs. Therefore, this urges us to learn them promptly, especially since they affect that verbal form that we use when talking about ourselves -or more precisely, myself– in the present.

Firstly, there is a group of verbs that takes an ending -y after the termination -o.


YOdoyI give
dasyou give
ÉL/ELLAdahe/she gives
NOSOTROS/ASdamoswe give
VOSOTROS/ASdaisyou (plur.) give
ELLOS/ELLASdanthey give


Other common verbs that observe the same pattern are:

ser = to be → soy     estar = to be → estoy     ir = to go → voy

Secondly, another group of frequent Spanish verbs add a -g before the termination -o.


YOpongoI put
ponesyou put
ÉL/ELLAponehe/she puts
NOSOTROS/ASponemoswe put
VOSOTROS/ASponéisyou (plur.) put
ELLOS/ELLASponenthey put


Other verbs that belong to the same exceptional group are:

caer = to fall  caigo   decir = to tell/say  digo    hacer = to do/make  hago

oír = to hear  oigo     salir = to leave  salgo        tener = to have  tengo

traer = to bring  traigo       valer = to be worth/cost  valgo

Thirdly, all those verbs whose infinitive form ends in -ger or -gir present a -j replacing the -g before the -o to maintain the same phonetic sound.

YOcojoI take
cogesyou take
ÉL/ELLAcogehe/she takes
NOSOTROS/AScogemoswe take
VOSOTROS/AScogéisyou (plur.) take
ELLOS/ELLAScogenthey take


Among many others, some verbs terminating in -ger or –gir are:

elegir= to choose → elijo      proteger= to protect → protejo        recoger= to collect → recojo

Finally, all those verbs ending in –acer, –ecer, –ocer or -ucir present the first person singular form changing the -c into –zc.


YOconduzcoI drive
conducesyou drive
ÉL/ELLAconducehe/she drives
NOSOTROS/ASconducimoswe drive
VOSOTROS/ASconducísyou (plur.) drive
ELLOS/ELLASconducenthey drive


Other verbs falling into the same category are:

conocer= to meet/know → conozco   desaparecer= to desappear → desaparezco

ofrecer= to offer → ofrezco  nacer= to be born → nazco

parecer= to seem/look like → parezco    reconocer= to recognize → conozco

Here are some example:

Soy italiano y estoy en Londres.→ I am Italian and I live in London.

Cada vez que salgo de casa tengo frío. →Every time I leave my house I feel cold.

¡Exijo hablar con el director! →I demand to speak with the manager!

No conozco a nadie en la fiesta. →I do not know anyone at the party.


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