Top Spanish Verbs – The 25 Must-Know Spanish Verbs

Learn top Spanish verbs easily with a short video lesson.

In your home country, there are some phrases that are so common you use them or hear them every day.

The same is true in Spain too, so why not give your European Spanish an instant boost by learning them in this video lesson?

With Rosa’s help, you’ll be sounding like a native European Spanish speaker in no time! In this lesson, you’ll learn the top 25 verbs that are used every day in Spain.

Top Spanish Verbs and Their Meaning

1. ser to be (essential/permanent quality) 2. tener to have
3. haber to have (to do something, auxiliary verb) 4. hacer to do, make
5. estar to be (health, location, state) 6. poder to be able, can
7. encontrar to find, encounter 8. ir to go
9. pasar to pass, to spend (time), to happen 10. dar to give
11. saber to know (information) 12. querer to want, love
13. llegar to arrive, come, reach 14. ver to see
15. deber to owe, must, should, ought to 16. poner to put, place, set
17. parecer to seem, appear 18. quedar to stay, remain
19. dejar to leave, abandon, to let, allow 20. hablar to speak
21. llevar to carry, bring 22. creer to believe
23. seguir to follow, continue 24. decir   to say, tell
25. llamar to call, to name

Out of the 25 Spanish verbs described above 10 are “la crème de la crème” and you can’t simply ignore them if you want to express yourself in Spanish, even at a basic level.

1. The verb “ser”

Although the verbs ser and estar are equivalent to the verb to be in English, the meanings and uses for ser and estar vary greatly in Spanish. In an effort to clarify the appropriate uses for these two verbs, this lesson explains the uses for each verb, and how they differ.

Conjugation of the Spanish Verb Ser (to be):

Present Tense Imperfect Tense
Yo soy (I am) Yo era (I used to be, was)
eres (you are) eras (you used to be, were)
Él/ella/Usted es (he/she is) Él/ella/Usted era (he/she was)
Nosotros somos (we are) Nosotros éramos (we used to be, were)
Vosotros/ustedes sois  (you are) Vosotros/ustedes erais  (we were)
Ellos/ellas/Ustedes son  (they are) Ellos/ellas/Ustedes eran  (they were)

The most important factor that should be understood about ser is that it embodies the aspect of the verb to be that it is definite, permanent, unchangeable, or inherent. Because of this, in Spanish ser is used to describe persons, professions, personality aspects, time, and nationalities. Each particular use for ser is explained below – This verb can be used to:

a. Express Physical traits of people and objects:

Jorge es alto. (Jorge is tall.)   — Doris era flaca. (Doris was skinny.)
La madre de Juan es bonita. (Juanita’s mother is pretty.)
La catedral es grande y vieja. (The cathedral is big and old.)
Lima es una ciudad Peruana. (Lima is a Peruvian city.)
La manzana es roja. (The apple is red.)
Don Julio ya no es joven. Es anciano. (Mr. Julio is no longer young. He is a senior citizen.)

b. Express Nationality/Citizenship:

Yo soy Colombiana. (I am Colombian.) – Él es hispano. (He is latino.)
Tomasina era Dominicana. (Tomasina was Dominican/was a Dominican citizen.)

c. Express Personality traits:

Juan y Carla son inteligentes. (Juan and Carla are intelligent.)  – Tú eres honesta. (You are honest.)
Los muchachos eran tímidos. (The boys were timid.) –
Mariana era humilde. (Mariana was humble.)

d. Express Professions:

Tulia es una doctora famosa. (Tulia is a famous doctor.) — Somos choferes. (We are drivers.)
Mi abuelo era alcalde. (My grandfather was mayor.) — Ellos son profesores. (They are professors.)
Éramos choferes, pero ahora somos gerentes.  — (We were drivers, but now we are managers.)

d. Express possession or the origin of an item:

With this particular use, the verb ser is usually followed by de (of). For example:

Este reloj es de Inglaterra. (This watch is from England.)
El cuaderno es de Raquel. (The notebook is Raquel’s.)
La computadora de Roberto es de Alemania. (Roberto’s computer is from Germany.)

e. Express the time:

¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?) – Son las siete y cuarto. (It is seven fifteen.)

F. Ser is also used for common impersonal expressions in Spanish related to time:

Es tarde. (It is late.) – Es temprano. (It is early.) – Es de noche. (It is night.)

2. The verb “Estar”

In Spanish, the verb estar is used to express what is more temporary, and changeable compared to ser. Let’s review the conjugations for estar in the present and imperfect tenses:

Conjugation of the Spanish Verb Ser (to be):

Present Tense Imperfect Tense
Yo estoy (I am) Yo estaba (I used to be, was)
estás (you are) estabas  (you used to be, were)
Él/ella/Usted está (he/she is) Él/ella/Usted estaba (he/she was)
Nosotros estamos (we are) Nosotros estábamos (we used to be, were)
Vosotros/ustedes estáis (you are) Vosotros/ustedes estabais  (we were)
Ellos/ellas/Ustedes están (they are) Ellos/ellas/Ustedes estaban  (they were)

Compared to the permanence expressed in ser, estar is used to express situations, aspects, and traits that may change at any time. Each particular use for estar is explained below:

a. To express feelings or emotions for a particular moment.

Juan Carlos está feliz hoy. (Juan Carlos is happy today.)
Yo estoy satisfecha con mi trabajo. (I am satisfied with my job.)
Marta estaba triste cuando hablé con ella. (Marta was sad when I spoke with her.)

* It should be noted that in the above examples, the use of estar stresses the temporal nature of the emotions described. However, if one wants to describe a person’s nature as being happy, or sad, the verb ser is then used; because it reflects a more permanent personality trait. For example, the above example could change from:

Juan Carlos está feliz hoy. (Juan Carlos is happy today.)

to: Juan Carlos es una persona feliz. (Juan Carlos is a happy person.)

b. To express a temporary or accidental aspectof a person, place, or thing that can change. This includes one’s state of health.

El café está frio. (The coffee is cold.)  — Marcos está en el parque. (Marcos is in the park.)
Mi cuaderno está en la escuela. (My notebook is at school.)
Milagros está enferma. (Milagros is sick.)  —  ¿Cómo está usted? (How are you?)

c. To express location.

¿Dónde está el museo? (Where is the museum?)

El museo está en la Calle Federal. (The museum is on Federal Street.)
¿Dónde está el banco? (Where is the bank?) — El banco está lejos de aquí. (The bank is far from here.)

“Ser” and “Estar” – a Video Lesson!

Here’s a great video lesson about the Spanish verbs “ser” and “estar” by Ana:


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