Conjugate irregular -ir verbs stem changing (e > i) in El Pretérito Indefinido (simple past)

There are some -ir Spanish verbs that are semi-regular in El Pretérito Indefinido. They have a vowel change (e>i) in the third person singular and third person plural.
Have a look at this table showing three of these verbs conjugated in  El Pretérito Indefinido:

  COMPETIR
to compete
SERVIR
to serve
REIR
to laugh
 yo competí
serví
reí
  competiste serviste reíste

él / ella / usted  

compitió
sirvió
rió
nosotros  / nosotras 
competimos servimos
reímos
vosotros  / vosotras 
competisteis
servisteis
reísteis
ellos / ellas/ ustedes  
compitieron
s
i
rvieron



rieron


Notice that in the 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural the -e- changes to -i-.
Read and listen to these examples:

Yo competí en las Olimpiadas
I competed in the Olympics

Tu conseguiste lo que querías.
You got what you wanted.

Amalia pidió paella para comer.
Amalia ordered paella for lunch.

Usted prefirió quedarse en el hotel.
You preferred to stay at the hotel.

Nosotros repetimos la coreografia.
We rehearsed the choreography.

Vosotros seguisteis al coche misterioso.
You followed the mysterious car.

Mis amigos sintieron una gran alegría al verme.
My friends felt great joy at seeing me.

Ustedes no sirvieron para el papel de la obra.
You did not suit the role in the play.

Verbs that follow this pattern are:

  • competir  (to compete)
  • conseguir  (to achieve)
  • pedir (to ask for)
  • preferir  (to prefer)
  • repetir (to repeat/rehearse)
  • seguir (to follow)
  • sentir (to feel)
  • servir (to serve/to be good at something/ be useful)

See also Conjugate regular -er and -ir verbs in El Pretérito Indefinido (simple past)

Examples and resources

Vosotros seguisteis al coche misterioso.
You followed the mysterious car.


Yo competí en las Olimpiadas
I competed in the Olympics


Mis padres prefirieron quedarse en casa.
My parents preferred to stay home.


Tu conseguiste lo que querías.
You got what you wanted.


Tu excusa no sirvió para nada.
Your excuse was pointless.


Usted prefirió quedarse en el hotel.
You preferred to stay at the hotel.


Yo preferí ir al teatro que al cine.
I preferred going to the theater than the cinema.


Antonio repitió el examen.
Antonio took the exam again. [lit: Antonio repeated the exam]


Nosotros repetimos la coreografia.
We rehearsed the choreography.


Mis amigos sintieron una gran alegría al verme.
My friends felt great joy at seeing me.


Ustedes no sirvieron para el papel de la obra.
You did not suit the role in the play.


Q&A

R

Kwiziq community member

24 October 2018

1 reply

Why do these verbs need the irregular stem change?

The pronouncitation without the change does not seem awkward to me.  

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

24 October 2018

24/10/18

¡Hola R! I totally understand what you mean but unfortunately grammar rules are not always logical and we need to accept it as it is...like in all languages.

Thanks for your comment.

Silvia.

Ricky

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2018

2 replies

al verme

Please explain 'al' in Mis amigos sintieron una gran alegría al verme.

Gracias,

Ricky

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

18 October 2018

18/10/18

Hola Ricky,

We use "al" plus an infinitive as a way of saying "when something happened". In this case, with this sentence "Mis amigos sintieron una gran alegría al verme.", it is the same as saying "My friends felt really happy when they saw me.".

Here is a lesson about "al+infinitive". Note it is an advance class, though.

Using conjunction al + infinitive/perfect infinitive = when doing/ because of doing [something]

Also note: Al = contraction of a+el.

I hope it helps.

Un saludo

Inma

Ricky

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2018

18/10/18

Thanks, Inma!
Clever stuff underway!