Gramática: Verbos en -ar

Students gathering on the steps of a building
"BarCampBA 2012" by LABgcba is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Describing what you do: the present indicative of -ar verbs

You have already learned the present indicative forms of the verbs ser and tener. Now you will learn the present indicative forms of -ar verbs. We use the present indicative to express the following:
  • To describe routine actions:
Estudias español en la universidad. / You study Spanish at the university.
  • To say what you are doing right now:
Ahora estudias matemáticas. / Now you’re studying math.
  • To ask questions about present events:
¿Estudias en la biblioteca después de clase? / Do you study in the library after class?
  • To describe plans for the immediate future:
Mañana estudias con tus compañeros de clase. / Tomorrow you’re going to study with your classmates.

Conjugating -ar verbs in the present indicative

An infinitive verb is a verb before it has been conjugated to reflect the subject of the verb. Estudiar (to study) is an infinitive. In Spanish, infinitives end in -ar, -er, or -ir. For now, you will learn to conjugate only -ar verbs.
A verb stem is what is left after you remove the -ar, -er, or -ir ending from the infinitive. Estudi- is the stem of estudiar.
A conjugated verb is a verb whose endings reflect person (I, you, he/she, we, you, they) and time (in this case, the present).
To conjugate an -ar verb in the present indicative, simply remove the -ar from the verb and attach the following endings to the stem, depending on the subject.

Estudiar to study

Yo estudio

nosotros estudiamos

tú estudias

vosotros estudiáis

él / ella / usted estudia

ellos / ellas/ ustedes estudian

Forming sentences

To form a complete sentence using the present indicative of -ar verbs, remember to follow basic Spanish sentence structure:

  • Subject + verb + when / where / what / with whom, etc.
  • Yo + miro + televisión los fines de semana. / I + watch + tv on the weekends.
  • Remember that in Spanish, subject pronouns are only necessary to emphasize or clarify.
  • Yo miro televisión, pero mi amiga habla por teléfono. (emphasis)
    • Vs. Miro televisión.
  • Usted camina en el parque. (Clarifies that the subject is usted, not él or élla)
    • Vs. Camina en el parque. (There must be a previous context that provides the meaning of camina so that we do not need to write it.)
To say what you do not do, place no before the conjugated verb. If the subject is used, put the “no” between the subject and the conjugated verb.
  • No trabajo los fines de semana. / I do not work on the weekends.
  • Luis no trabaja los fines de semana. / Louis does not work on the weekends.
Certain present tense conjugations can be followed by infinitives. However, we cannot use two conjugated verbs together unless they are separated by a comma or y (and), pero (but), or o (or).
  • Necesitamos estudiar el vocabulario. / We need to study vocabulary.
  • Los viernes, trabajo, ceno con amigos y descanso. / On Fridays, I work, eat dinner with friends, and rest.

To form a yes or no question, add question marks to a present tense sentence. If the subject is used, it usually follows the verb or is placed at the end of the sentence.

(Note: Certain dialects of Spanish simply take the statement and use intonation to create the question rather than changing word order.)

  • ¿Trabajas los fines de semana? / Do you work on weekends?
  • ¿Trabaja Marta los fines de semana? / Does Martha work on the weekends? OR
  • ¿Trabaja los fines de semana Marta? / Does Martha work on the weekends?

Vocabulario útil

Here are some regular -ar verbs referring to pastimes and activities:

alquilar (películas, coches) 

to rent (movies, cars)

mirar (televisión)

to watch (television)


to dance

navegar por internet

to surf the web


to walk


to skate


to sing


to paint


to cook

practicar deportes

to practice/play sports


to rest

sacar/tomar fotos

to take photos

escuchar (música)

to listen to (music)

tocar un instrumento musical

to play a musical instrument*


to ski

tomar un refresco

to drink a soft drink

estudiar (en la biblioteca, en casa)

to study (in the library, at home)

tomar el sol

to sunbathe

hablar (por teléfono)

to talk (on the phone)


to travel

levantar pesas

to lift weights

visitar a amigos

to visit friends

*instrumentos musicales: la guitarra – the guitar, el piano – the piano, la trompeta – the trumpet, el violín – the violin

**esquiar – the forms add an accent: esquío, esquías, esquía, esquiamos, esquiáis, esquían. We will talk about why the accent is added when we study diphthongs.

Here are some additional regular -ar verbs not necessarily related to pastimes or activities, but commonly used:

acabar (+infinitivo) 

to have just (done something)

limpiar to clean 


to turn off 

llamar to call 


to park


to arrive 


to help 

necesitar (+infinitivo)

to need (to do something)


to look for 


to pass 


to eat dinner 


to prepare 


to buy 


to work 

desear (+infinitivo) 

to desire, to want (to)


to use 


to show



  • Acabo de llamar a mi mamá por teléfono.
  • Deseamos estudiar español.
  • Ramón necesita limpiar el escritorio.
  • Busca el libro, pero no lo puede encontrar. (cannot find it).

Graffiti of Homer Simpson, with text "Nota mental: No aparcar!"
"Vado simpático" by guerrera is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Actividades de conversación

Actividad 1. ¿Qué hacen?

Say what the following people do on the indicated days and times. Follow the model. Use different verbs for each sentence.
  • Modelo:
    • You see: tus amigos y tú: los viernes por la tarde
    • You say or write: Tus amigos y tú practican (o practicáis en España) deportes los viernes por la tarde.
  1. Yo: los domingos por la tarde
  1. Mi compañero(a) de cuarto: los viernes por la noche
  1. Mis padres: los sábados por la mañana
  1. Mis amigos y yo: los sábados por la noche
Vocabulario útil:
  • viernes – Friday
  • sábado – Saturday
  • domingo – Sunday
  • la mañana – morning
  • la tarde – afternoon
  • la noche – night

Actividad 2. Habilidades. (Abilities)

In groups, say what you do very well, and what you do not do well.

Then, summarize your group’s abilities for the class using the third person.

Actividad 3. Encuesta. (Survey)

Ask your classmates if they do the following activities. Keep a count of how many classmates answer affirmatively and how many answer negatively. Then, write complete sentences saying what your classmates do.

  1. tocar un instrumento Sí: ______ No: ______
  1. estudiar en la biblioteca Sí: ______ No: ______
  1. escuchar música mientras (while) estudiar Sí: ______ No: ______
  1. bailar con amigos los fines de semana Sí: ______ No: ______
  1. viajar en el verano (summer) Sí: ______ No: ______
  1. caminar a las clases Sí: ______ No: ______
  1. cocinar con frecuencia Sí: ______ No: ______

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