Conjugation of the Spanish Verb 'Decir'

Verb meaning 'to say' is highly irregular

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

Ben Gold/Getty Images 

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

The only verbs that are conjugated in the pattern of decir are those derived from it, which include bendecir, contradecir, desdecir, interdecir, maldecir, and predecir.

Irregular forms are shown below in boldface. Translations are given as a guide and in real life vary with context.

Infinitive of Decir

decir (to say)

Gerund of Decir

diciendeo (saying)

Participle of Decir

dicho (said)

Present Indicative of Decir

digo, tú dices, usted/él/ella dice, nosotros/as decimos, vosotros/as decís, ustedes/ellos/ellas dicen (I say, you say, he says, etc.)

Preterite of Decir

yo dije, tú dijiste, usted/él/ella dijo, nosotros/as dijimos, vosotros/as dijisteis, ustedes/ellos/ellas dijeron (I said, you said, she said, etc.)

Imperfect Indicative of Decir

yo decía, tú decías, usted/él/ella decía, nosotros/as decíamos, vosotros/as decíais, ustedes/ellos/ellas decían (I used to say, you used to say, he used to say, etc.)

Future Indicative of Decir

yo diré, tú dirás, usted/él/ella dirá, nosotros/as diremos, vosotros/as diréis, ustedes/ellos/ellas dirán (I will say, you will say, he will say, etc.)

Conditional of Decir

yo diría, tú dirías, usted/él/ella diría, nosotros/as diríamos, vosotros/as diríais, ustedes/ellos/ellas dirían (I would say, you would say, she would say, etc.)

Present Subjunctive of Decir

que yo diga, que tú digas, que usted/él/ella diga, que nosotros/as digamos, que vosotros/as digáis, que ustedes/ellos/ellas digan (that I say, that you say, that she say, etc.)

Imperfect Subjunctive of Decir

que yo dijera (dijese), que tú dijeras (dijeses), que usted/él/ella dijera (dijese), que nosotros/as dijéramos (dijésemos), que vosotros/as dijerais (dijeseis), que ustedes/ellos/ellas dijeran (dijesen) (that I said, that you said, that he said, etc.)

Imperative of Decir

di tú, no digas tú, diga usted, digamos nosotros/as, decid vosotros/as, no digáis vosotros/as, digan ustedes (say, don't say, say, let's say, etc.)

Compound Tenses of Decir

Key Takeaways

Like most common verbs, decir is highly irregular, breaking the usual pattern in nearly all tenses other than the imperfect indicative.

When stressed, the de- of the first syllable changes to di-, and in many cases the c of the stem changes to g or j.

A handful of common verbs based on decir follow its conjugation pattern.The perfect tenses are made by using the appropriate form of haber and the past participle, dicho. The progressive tenses use estar with the gerund, diciendo.

Sample Sentences Showing Conjugation of Decir and Related Verbs

No queremos decir que tenemos toda la verdad. (We don't want to say we have all the truth. Infinitive.)

Os lo he dicho muchas veces. (I have told you it many times. Present perfect.)

No entiendo lo que me están diciendo. (I don't understand what they're telling me. Present progressive.)

Todos estaban diciendo que mi carrera había terminado. (Everybody was saying that my career was over. Imperfect progressive.)

No obstante, predigo que en el futuro cercano vamos a ver muchos cambios en la industria. (Nevertheless, I predict that in the near future we will see many changes in the industry. Present indicative.)

Una premisa de la ciencia ficción es "si no contradice las leyes físicas, entonces es posible." (One premise of science fiction is "if it doesn't contradict the laws of physics, then it is possible." Present indicative.)

¿Le dijiste que todo era mentira? (Did you tell him it was all a lie? Preterite.)

Mi doctora me dijo que tengo diabetes. (My doctor told me I have diabetes. Preterite.)

Unos meses antes de mi nacimiento, mi madre predijo que yo sería muy rica. (A few months before my birth, my mother predicted I would be very rich. Preterite)

Creía que me contradecía por su manera de vivir. (I used to believe she was contradicting me by her lifestyle. Imperfect.)

Te dirán lo que quieras escuchar. (They'll tell you what you want to hear. Future.)

Si era en su casa, yo deciría que soy alérgica para un ingrediente de la comida y no puedo comerla. (If I were at his home, I would say that I'm allergic to an ingredient in the food and that I can't eat it. Conditional.)

En el mundo en el cual vivimos, es inevitable que alguien nos maldiga. (In the world we live in, it is inevitable that someone will criticize us. Present subjunctive.)

Niega que dijera que Cataluña debe ser reconocida como nación. (She denies saying that Catalonia should be recognized as a country. Imperfect subjunctive.)

Dice que es tu turno. (Say it's your turn. Imperative.)

Key Takeaways

  • Like most common verbs, decir is highly irregular, breaking the usual pattern in nearly all tenses other than the imperfect indicative.
  • When stressed, the de- of the first syllable changes to di-, and in many cases the c of the stem changes to g or j.
  • A handful of common verbs based on decir follow its conjugation pattern.