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How to Learn Spanish Verb Tenses

Table of Contents

Depending on who you ask, there are anywhere between 14 and 22 verb tenses in Spanish.

These tenses allow your language to be far more complex than stating facts in the past, present, or future. You can discuss hypotheticals, give instructions, and speak about conditional situations.

Plus, English already has 12 verb tenses, so it must be an achievable goal!

Verb Tense is one of the main four advanced concepts related to Spanish verb conjugation. To start learning Spanish verb tenses, read this brief article on how they work, and how to choose the right one.

Also, check out our guide to master more Spanish verb concepts (basic and advanced).

How Spanish Verb Tenses Work

There are three factors that determine the verb tense you need:

  1. Mood
  2. Temporality
  3. Aspect

Mood means how a verb is used. For example, to state a fact or to give a command. The moods in Spanish are the indicative (which includes conditional), the subjunctive, and the imperative.

Temporality refers to the time of the verb's action. Similarly to English, this is past, present, or future. Temporality alone can be referred to as tense, but most often, verb tense means a combination of all three factors.

Once you know the mood and the temporality, the last step is the aspect. Verb aspect refers to nuance in how the noun progresses through time, or relative to other things.

With these three steps, you can find the right verb tense. Therefore you can conjugate it correctly.

For example, consider these statements:

  • I was working.
  • I worked.

The verb is conjugated differently: "was working" vs "worked."

Both are in the past tense (temporality). Both are stating a fact (mood). So where they differ must be their aspect; the first is imperfective, the second perfective.

Now you get the idea, let's look at all the verb tenses in Spanish. We've split them by mood and temporality so you can easily find the one you want to learn!

Verb Tenses in the Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is used to make statements. Therefore it's the most common mood in both written and spoken Spanish. Here are verb tenses that fall under the indicative mood.

Verb Tenses in the Subjunctive Mood

As opposed to certain statements of the indicative mood, the subjunctive mood is used for hypotheticals. While it's far less common in English nowadays, it's still a frequently used mood in Spanish. Click on a subjunctive mood tense lesson below to start learning.

Verb Tenses in the Imperative Mood

The imperative mood, also called the imperative tense, is used for instructions and commands. It can look like the indicative mood at first glance, except that the verb's subject is usually implied, not stated. Click below to study the Spanish imperative verb tense.

Note that there is only the imperative in the present, not past or future.

How to Learn Progressive Tenses

Our final tip is about progressive verb tenses; those that suggest that the verb was, is, or will be ongoing.

You may have spotted that progressive tenses were missing from our lists. That's because Spanish progressive verb tenses are related to the aspect of a verb tense. And there's a very simple way to learn the rules! Discover how to use the progressive aspect for any verb in Spanish here.

Spanish Verb Tense Exercises

Time to practise the Spanish verb tenses! Dive into our Verb Tense Exercises and challenge your Spanish verb skills with these exercises curated by our expert Spanish teachers:

A1 Level Fill-in-the-blanks exercises

A2 Level Fill-in-the-blanks exercises

B1 Level Fill-in-the-blanks exercises

B2 Level Fill-in-the-blanks exercises

Learn Spanish Verb Tenses For Good!

Spanish verb tenses may seem to have lots of rules, but they're easy to memorise little by little. With a free Kwiziq account, let Kwizbot test your Spanish skills to figure out your exact level, along with your strengths and weaknesses. Then, it'll create a custom Study Plan just for you.

For access to Kwiziq's verb tense exercises, get a free account today!



 

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