- How Spanish Verb Tenses Work
- Verb Tenses in the Indicative Mood
- Verb Tenses in the Subjunctive Mood
- Verb Tenses in the Imperative Mood
- How to Learn Progressive Tenses
- Spanish Verb Tense Exercises
- Learn Spanish Verb Tenses For Good!
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!
To start learning Spanish verb tenses, read this brief article on how they work, and how to choose the right one.
How Spanish Verb Tenses Work
There are three factors that determine the verb tense you need:
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. 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.
- Pretérito Imperfecto de indicativo / Imperfect indicative
- Pretérito Perfecto Simple de indicativo / Simple Past indicative
- Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto de indicativo / Present Perfect indicative
- Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de indicativo / Past Perfect or Pluperfect indicative
- Pretérito Anterior de indicativo / Past Perfect or Pluperfect indicative
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
- La mala suerte de Julieta (Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto de indicativo)
- Las paletas mexicanas (Pretérito Perfecto Simple de indicativo)
- Día Internacional de la Educación (Pretérito Imperfecto de indicativo)
B1 Level Fill-in-the-blanks exercises
B2 Level Fill-in-the-blanks exercises
- El grito de Dolores en México (Imperfecto de subjuntivo/Pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo)
- Mi artículo para el 8M (Presente de subjuntivo)
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, you get unlimited access to all our free exercises!
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