There is no rule that applies to these stem-changing verbs in terms of knowing which ones undergo a change, if that is what you're referring to. We add to these lessons a link to a list (by the end of the lesson) with the most common verbs that have this change, to help memorise them a bit.
Hi there Annie !
My CLAVE dictionary included a CD with a "reverse alphabetic" option - thereby making it possible to examine and compare verbs ending (for example) in -ertir, -egir, -erir, -etir etc. etc... There is no 'simple rule' governing the behaviour of all -ir verbs, but a few specific patterns did emerge which (for me) have been quite helpful.
1. For example, having learned that preferir is e>ie changing, it is worth remembering that this also applies to diferir, inferir, referir, conferir, transferir and interferir. Indeed, some people may find it useful to bear in mind that we can extend this to all -erir verbs, namely sugerir, requerir, herir, digerir, adherir etc.
And every -vertir verb adopts this same e>ie vowel-shift, namely divertir, convertir, advertir, invertir, revertir, etc.
In addition, -entir verbs like sentir, mentir and arrepentir are others which belong in this e>ie category.
2. On the other hand, those which follow the e>i switch include:
-etir verbs like repetir, competir and derretir;
-egir ones like elegir, [cor]regir and colegir;
-edir ones like pedir, medir and impedir;
-eír ones like reír and freír.
3. The -ergir verbs make no change in their conjugation (sumergir, divergir and convergir); e.g. "ellos convergen".
4. An -ervir ending is the only one which does not indicate the required change ! - because:
servir is an e>i verb (él sirve), whereas hervir alters the e>ie (él hierve).
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