Spanish Verb Decir Conjugation

Decir Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

two women enjoying talking
¡No digas! (You don't say!).

Ben Gold/Getty Images 

The Spanish verb decir is an everyday verb that is usually the equivalent of to say or to tell. The conjugation of decir is highly irregular, not following a readily predictable pattern.

In the first person singular conjugation, decir has the -go ending, similar to the verb seguir (to follow). The verb decir also has a stem change, which means that the e in the stem changes to an i when found in a stressed syllable. For example, ella dice (she says). Other verbs that have a similar stem change are pedir, seguir, and vestir (to ask for, to follow, and to dress). In the preterite tense conjugations, the irregular endings of decir include the letter j, as in dije (I said). Other verbs with a similar pattern are traer and conducir.

The only verbs that are conjugated in the same pattern as decir are those derived from it, which include bendecir (to bless), contradecir (to contradict), desdecir (to retract), maldecir (to curse), and predecir (to predict).

In this article you'll find the conjugations of decir in the indicative mood (present, past, and future), the subjunctive mood (present and past), the imperative mood, and other verb forms such as the gerund and past participle.

Using the Verb Decir

The verb decir can be followed by a noun, to indicate something that a person says something. For example Ella dice mentiras (She tells lies) or Carlos dice la verdad (Carlos tells the truth). However, decir is often followed by a clause introduced by que, indicating a statement that a person says. For example, Ella dice que tiene hambre (She says that she is hungry) or Carlos dice que mañana es feriado (Carlos says that tomorrow is a holiday).

Another way that you will frequently see this verb is when someone tells someone something, in which case you will need to use an indirect object pronoun (me, te, le, os, les). For example, Ella me dice lo que quiere (She tells me what she wants) or Carlos les dice la hora (Carlos tells them the time).

Decir Present Indicative

The first person present tense conjugation of decir is irregular, since it has the ending -go. In this verb tense you must also be careful with the stem change e to i in all of the conjugations except nosotros and vosotros.

Yo digo Yo digo siempre la verdad. I always tell the truth.
dices Tú les dices mentiras a tus padres. You tell your parents lies.
Usted/él/ella dice Ella me dice la hora. She tells me the time.
Nosotros decimos Nosotros le decimos adiós a la maestra. We say goodbye to the teacher.
Vosotros decís Vosotros decís a qué hora queréis salir. You say what time you want to leave.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas dicen Ellos dicen que bailar es divertido. They say that dancing is fun.

Decir Preterite Indicative

Of the two forms of the past tense that exist in Spanish, the preterite describes past events that are completed. Notice that the preterite tense endings contain an irregular form including a j.

Yo dije Yo dije siempre la verdad. I always told the truth.
dijiste Tú les dijiste mentiras a tus padres. You told your parents lies.
Usted/él/ella dijo Ella me dijo la hora. She told me the time.
Nosotros dijimos Nosotros le dijimos adiós a la maestra. We said goodbye to the teacher.
Vosotros dijisteis Vosotros dijisteis a qué hora queréis salir. You said what time you want to leave.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas dijeron Ellos dijeron que bailar es divertido. They said that dancing is fun.

Decir Imperfect Indicative

The other past tense that exists in Spanish is the imperfect, which is used to describe ongoing or repeated actions in the past. It can be translated to English as "was saying" or "used to say." The imperfect conjugations of decir follow a regular pattern with the ending -ía.

Yo decía Yo decía siempre la verdad. I used to always tell the truth.
decías Tú les decías mentiras a tus padres. You used to tell your parents lies.
Usted/él/ella decía Ella me decía la hora. She used to tell me the time.
Nosotros decíamos Nosotros le decíamos adiós a la maestra. We used to say goodbye to the teacher.
Vosotros decíais Vosotros decíais a qué hora queríais salir. You used to say what time you wanted to leave.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas decían Ellos decían que bailar es divertido. They used to say that dancing is fun.

Decir Future Indicative

The future tense is normally conjugated starting with the infinitive form. However, decir is irregular because it does not use the infinitive, but instead uses the stem dir-.

Yo diré Yo diré siempre la verdad. I will always tell the truth.
dirás Tú les dirás mentiras a tus padres. You will tell your parents lies.
Usted/él/ella dirá Ella me dirá la hora. She will tell me the time.
Nosotros diremos Nosotros le diremos adiós a la maestra. We will say goodbye to the teacher.
Vosotros diréis Vosotros diréis a qué hora queréis salir. You will say what time you want to leave.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas dirán Ellos dirán que bailar es divertido. They will say that dancing is fun.

Decir Periphrastic Future Indicative 

The periphrastic future is used similarly to the English "going to + verb."

Yo voy a decir Yo voy a decir siempre la verdad. I am going to always tell the truth.
vas a decir Tú les vas a decir mentiras a tus padres. You are going to tell your parents lies.
Usted/él/ella va a decir Ella me va a decir la hora. She is going to tell me the time.
Nosotros vamos a decir Nosotros le vamos a decir adiós a la maestra. We are going to say goodbye to the teacher.
Vosotros vais a decir Vosotros vais a decir a qué hora queréis salir. You are going to say what time you want to leave.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas van a decir Ellos van a decir que bailar es divertido. They are going to say that dancing is fun.

Decir Present Progressive/Gerund Form

The gerund or present participle in Spanish, is the English -ing form, and it can can be used to form the present progressive and other progressive tenses. Notice that the gerund for decir has the stem change e to i.

Present Progressive of Decir está  diciendo Ella me está diciendo la hora. She is telling me the time.

Decir Past Participle

The perfect tenses are made by using the appropriate form of haber and the past participle, which for decir is the irregular form dicho.

Present Perfect of Decir ha dicho Ella me ha dicho la hora. She has told me the time.

Decir Conditional Indicative

The conditional tense uses the same irregular root as the future tense, dir-. It is the equivalent of the English form "would + verb."

Yo diría Yo diría siempre la verdad si fuera honesta. I would always tell the truth if I were honest.
dirías Tú les dirías mentiras a tus padres si fueran muy estrictos. You would tell your parents lies if they were very strict.
Usted/él/ella diría Ella me diría la hora si tuviera un reloj. She would tell me the time if she had a watch.
Nosotros diríamos Nosotros le diríamos adiós a la maestra si se tuviera que ir. We would say goodbye to the teacher if she had to leave.
Vosotros diríais Vosotros diríais a qué hora queréis salir, pero no podéis hacerlo. You would say what time you want to leave, but you cannot do it.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas dirían Ellos dirían que bailar es divertido si supieran bailar. They would say that dancing is fun if they knew how to dance.

Decir Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive is formed starting with the first person conjugation (yo) of the present indicative tense. Since that conjugation for decir is irregular (digo), then the present subjunctive conjugations are also irregular.

Que yo diga Mi madre sugiere que yo diga siempre la verdad. My mother suggests that I always tell the truth.
Que tú digas Tu abuelo espera que tú no les digas mentiras a tus padres. Your grandfather hopes that you do not tell your parents lies.
Que usted/él/ella diga Paco quiere que ella me diga la hora. Paco wants her to tell me the time.
Que nosotros digamos Marta recomienda que nosotros le digamos adiós a la maestra. Marta recommends that we say goodbye to the teacher.
Que vosotros digáis El jefe sugiere que vosotros digáis a qué hora queréis salir. The boss suggests that you say what time you want to leave.
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas digan El instructor quiere que ellos digan que bailar es divertido. The instructor wants them to say that dancing is fun.

Decir Imperfect Subjunctive

There are two different ways of conjugating the imperfect subjunctive:

Option 1

Que yo dijera Mi madre sugería que yo dijera siempre la verdad. My mother suggested that I always tell the truth.
Que tú dijeras Tu abuelo esperaba que tú no les dijeras mentiras a tus padres. Your grandfather hoped that you did not tell your parents lies.
Que usted/él/ella dijera Paco quería que ella me dijera la hora. Paco wanted her to tell me the time.
Que nosotros dijéramos Marta recomendaba que nosotros le dijéramos adiós a la maestra. Marta recommended that we say goodbye to the teacher.
Que vosotros dijerais El jefe sugirió que vosotros dijerais a qué hora queréis salir. The boss suggested that you say what time you want to leave.
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas dijeran El instructor quería que ellos dijeran que bailar es divertido. The instructor wanted them to say that dancing is fun.

Option 2

Que yo dijese Mi madre sugería que yo dijese siempre la verdad. My mother suggested that I always tell the truth.
Que tú dijeses Tu abuelo esperaba que tú no les dijeses mentiras a tus padres. Your grandfather hoped that you did not tell your parents lies.
Que usted/él/ella dijese Paco quería que ella me dijese la hora. Paco wanted her to tell me the time.
Que nosotros dijésemos Marta recomendaba que nosotros le dijésemos adiós a la maestra. Marta recommended that we say goodbye to the teacher.
Que vosotros dijeseis El jefe sugirió que vosotros dijeseis a qué hora queréis salir. The boss suggested that you say what time you want to leave.
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas dijesen El instructor quería que ellos dijesen que bailar es divertido. The instructor wanted them to say that dancing is fun.

Decir Imperative

To give someone an order or command, you would use the imperative mood. Below you can see both positive and negative commands. Notice that when including an indirect object pronoun with a positive command, the pronoun gets attached to the end of the verb, while with a negative command, the pronoun goes before the verb.

Positive Commands

di ¡Diles mentiras a tus padres! Tell your parents lies!
Usted diga ¡Dígame la hora! Tell me the time!
Nosotros digamos ¡Digámosle adiós a la maestra! Let's say goodbye to the teacher!
Vosotros decid  ¡Decid a qué hora queréis salir! Say at what time you want to leave!
Ustedes digan ¡Digan que bailar es divertido! Say that dancing is fun!

Negative Commands

no digas ¡No les digas mentiras a tus padres! Don't tell your parents lies!
Usted no diga ¡No me diga la hora! Don't tell me the time!
Nosotros no digamos ¡No le digamos adiós a la maestra! Let's not say goodbye to the teacher!
Vosotros no digáis ¡No digáis a qué hora queréis salir! Don't say at what time you want to leave!
Ustedes no digan ¡No digan que bailar es divertido! Don't say that dancing is fun!