Learn to Conjugate the Spanish Verb 'Hablar'

Learning A Verb Pattern Leads to Knowing the Patterns for Thousands of Verbs

Red Lips
Los labios son importantes para hablar. (The lips are important for speaking.). Christine Roth/Flickr

The area where Spanish is its most complex is regarding verbs. There are about 16 ways to express a verb, depending on the person, mood, number, tense, personal or formal, aspect and voice.

As is typical of verbs in virtually all languages, Spanish verbs express an action or a state of being of a given subject, and like verbs in most Romance languages, Spanish verbs undergo inflection. It is this inflection that changes the verb, requiring the word to be conjugated or changed to reflect the inflection.

Learning Conjugation Patterns

The beauty of learning to conjugate a regular verb in Spanish is that once you learn to change the ending, those changes translate to all the other regular verbs with the same ending.

Importance of Person, Number and Familiarity

Spanish verbs are conjugated in three persons, each having a singular, plural and formal and familiar form. Also, depending if the speaker is visiting Spain or talking to a native speaker from Spain, there may be an additional conjugation.

In Spanish, like in English, the persons are first person singular and plural, "I" or yo and "we" or nosotros; singular second person, "you" or , which is familiar, and Usted, which is formal, singular "you" and Ustedes, which is formal, plural "you"; and singular third person, "he, she, it," which is el, ella, or ello, respectively. The plural third person is "they" or ellos for a group or ellas for a group of women.

Usted and Ustedes, sometimes written as Ud. and Uds., is used as a form of respect in polite or formal address.

In Spain, there is another conjugation form, a second-person, informal or familiar form for "you," that is used when speaking directly to a familiar group of people. It is vosotros, for a mixed group of people or males only, or vosotras, for a group of females.

Most other Spanish-speaking countries do not use it. 

Conjugation of Hablar

Review the conjugation of the regular verb hablar, "to speak," below. By learning this conjugation pattern for this and other regular verbs ending in -ar, you can learn the conjugation pattern for all other regular verbs ending in -ar. To conjugate the verb, drop the ending -ar and add the new ending. The verb is also known as the infinitive.

Present Indicative Form of Hablar

The present form of the verb hablar means that the verb is expressing an action that is happening now or is current. Indicative means the verb is a statement of fact. In Spanish, this is called the presente del indicativo. An example is, "He speaks Spanish," or Él habla español. In English, the present indicative form of hablar is "speak," "speaks" or "am/is/are speaking."

Person/NumberVerb Change
Yo (I)Hablo
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Habla
Nosotros (we)Hablamos
Vosotros (you)Habláis
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablan

Preterite Indicative Form of Hablar

The preterite indicative form is used for past actions that are completed. In Spanish, this is called the pretérito. For example, "No one spoke," is translated to Nadie habló. In English, the preterite indicative form of hablar is "spoke."

Person/NumberVerb Change
Yo (I)Hablé
Tú (you)Hablaste
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Habló
Nosotros (we)Hablamos
Vosotros (you)Hablasteis
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablaron

Imperfect Indicative Form of Hablar

The imperfect indicative form, or imperfecto del indicativo in Spanish, is used to talk about a past action or state of being without specifying when it began or ended. It is often equivalent to "was speaking" in English. As an example, "I was speaking slowly" is translated to Yo hablaba lentamente. In English, the imperfect indicative form of hablar is "was speaking."

Person/NumberVerb Change
Yo (I)Hablaba
Tú (you)Hablabas
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Hablaba
Nosotros (we)Hablábamos
Vosotros (you)Hablais
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablaban

Future Indicative Form of Hablar

The future indicative form, or futuro del indicativo in Spanish, is used to tell what will or shall happen.

  It means "will speak" in English. For example, Hablaré contigo mañana, means "I will speak with you tomorrow."

Person/NumberVerb Change
Yo (I)Hablaré
Tú (you)Hablarás
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Hablará
Nosotros (we)Hablaremos
Vosotros (you)Hablaréis
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablarán

Conditional Indicative Form of Hablar

The conditional indicative form, or el condicional, is used to express probability, possibility, wonder or conjecture, and is usually translated into English as would, could, must have or probably. For example, "Would you speak English in Spain," would translate to ​¿Hablarías inglés en España?

Person/NumberVerb Change
Yo (I)Hablaría
Tú (you)Hablarías
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Hablaría
Nosotros (we)Hablaríamos
Vosotros (you)Hablaríais
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablarían

Present Subjunctive Form of Hablar

The present subjunctive, or presente subjunctivo, functions much like the present indicative timewise, except it deals with mood and is used in situations of doubt, desire, emotion and is generally subjective. Use the Spanish subjunctive when you want a subject to do something. You also use que with the pronoun and verb. For example, "I want you to speak Spanish," would be said, Yo quiero que usted hable español.

Person/NumberVerb Change
Que Yo (I)Hable
Que Tú (you)Hables
Que Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Hable
Que Nosotros (we)Hablemos
Que Vosotros (you)Habléis
Que Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablen

Imperfect Subjunctive Form of Hablar

The imperfect subjunctive, or imperfecto del subjuntivo, is used as a clause describing something in the past and is used in situations of doubt, desire, emotion and is generally subjective.

You also use que with the pronoun and verb. For example, "Did you want me to talk about the book?" which translates to, ¿Quería usted que yo hablara del libro? 

Person/NumberVerb Change
Que Yo (I)Hablara
Que Tú (you)Hablaras
Que Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Hablara
Que Nosotros (we)Habláramos
Que Vosotros (you)Hablarais
Que Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablaran

Imperative Form of Hablar

The imperative, or imperativo in Spanish, is used to give commands or orders. Since a person orders others, the first person is not used. For example, "(You) Speak more slowly," translates to Habla más lentamente.

Person/NumberVerb Change
Yo (I)--
Tú (you)Habla
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it)Hable
Nosotros (we)Hablemos
Vosotros (you)Hablad
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they)Hablen

Gerund Form of Hablar

The gerund, or gerundio in Spanish, refers to the -ing form of the verb, but in Spanish the gerund behaves more like an adverb. To form the gerund, like in English, all words take on the same ending, in this case, the "ing" becomes -ando. The -ar verb, hablar, becomes hablando. The active verb in the sentence is the verb that conjugates or changes. The gerund stays the same no matter how the subject and verb changes. For example, "She is talking," translates to, Ella esta hablando. Or, if talking in the past tense, "She was the person who was talking," would translate to, Ella era la persona que estaba hablando.

The Past Participle of Hablar

The past participle corresponds to the English -en or -ed form of the verb. It is created by dropping the -ar and adding -ado.

The verb, hablar, become hablado. For example, "I have spoken," translates to, Ha hablado.