Learn to Conjugate the Spanish Verb ‘Hablar’

Verb for speaking serves as pattern for other ‘-ar’ verbs

Woman speaking
La mujer habla. (The woman is speaking.). Caiaimage / Martin Barraud / Getty Images

Hablar, meaning "to speak," is often one of the first verbs that Spanish students learn to conjugate, and for good reason: It is a regular verb ending in -ar, meaning that most other verbs ending in -ar, the most common verb type, are conjugated the same way.

Conjugation is simply the process of changing a verb to reflect its application, such as to indicate its tense or mood. We conjugate verbs in English, such as by using forms such as "speak," "spoke," "speaks" and "spoken." But in Spanish it's much more complicated, since most verbs have at least 50 conjugated simple forms, compared with a handful in English.

Below are the most important conjugated forms of hablar:

Present Indicative 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/Number Verb Change
Yo (I) Hablo
(you) Hablas
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it) Habla
Nosotros (we) Hablamos
Vosotros (you) Habláis
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they) Hablan

Preterite Indicative 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/Number Verb Change
Yo (I) Hablé
(you) Hablaste
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it) Habló
Nosotros (we) Hablamos
Vosotros (you) Hablasteis
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they) Hablaron

Imperfect Indicative of Hablar

The imperfect indicative form, or imperfecto del indicativo, 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/Number Verb Change
Yo (I) Hablaba
(you) Hablabas
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it) Hablaba
Nosotros (we) Hablábamos
Vosotros (you) Hablais
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they) Hablaban

Future Indicative 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/Number Verb Change
Yo (I) Hablaré
(you) Hablarás
Usted, él, ella (he, she, it) Hablará
Nosotros (we) Hablaremos
Vosotros (you) Hablaréis
Ustedes, ellos, ellas (they) Hablarán

Conditional Indicative of Hablar

The conditional 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/Number Verb Change
Yo (I) Hablaría
(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 subjuntivo, functions much like the present indicative timewise, except it deals with mood and is used in situations of doubt, desire, or emotion and is generally subjective. For example, "I want you to speak Spanish," would be said, Yo quiero que usted hable español.

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

Gerund 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.

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.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "Learn to Conjugate the Spanish Verb ‘Hablar’." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/conjugation-of-hablar-3078332. Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). Learn to Conjugate the Spanish Verb ‘Hablar’. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/conjugation-of-hablar-3078332 Erichsen, Gerald. "Learn to Conjugate the Spanish Verb ‘Hablar’." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/conjugation-of-hablar-3078332 (accessed June 3, 2023).