Before we look at using verbs in Spanish, we first need to know what an infinitive is.
What is an infinitive?
An infinitive is the verb in its most basic form without any changes to it.
It is not in the present, not in the past or future, it is the original form of the verb. It is not connected to any time or person so it does not have any change to its ending (no -s or -ed or -ing).
In English an infinitive is: TO + VERB
To be, to go, to sleep, to dance …. these are all infinitives in English.
What is an infinitive in Spanish?
In Spanish the infinitive (infinitivo) consists of one word and not two words as in English (to + verb …. are two words).
- hablar = to speak
- comer = to eat
- vivir = to live
Spanish verbs are divided into three groups. These groups are based on the ending (the last two letters) of the infinitive which is either -ar, -er or -ir.
Examples of -AR verbs: comprar (to buy), estudiar (to study), hablar (to speak), bailar (to dance)
Examples of -ER verbs: comer (to eat), aprender (to learn), beber (to drink), vender (to sell)
Examples of -IR verbs: dormir (to sleep), escribir (to write), vivir (to live), abrir (to open)
Why is it important to know what an infinitive is?
Knowing the infinitive of a verb in Spanish will help you conjugate (= change the ending of) a verb to its correct form depending on the tense (past, present, future etc.) and agreeing with the subject (who is doing the verb).
When you look for a Spanish verb in the dictionary, the verb will appear in its infinitive form.
We will see more about verb conjugation in the next lesson.