Spanish Verb Doler Conjugation

Doler Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

runner in pain
¿Te duele? (Does it hurt?). Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images

The Spanish verb doler means "to cause pain." It is always conjugated in the third person singular or plural, depending on what is causing the pain, and the indirect object pronoun is always included. Doler is an intransitive verb that requires changes to the common subject, verb, object sentence structure.

This article includes doler conjugations in the present, past, future, and conditional indicative mood, the present and past subjunctive, and other verb forms. You'll also find examples and translations of the verb doler in frequently used scenarios.

Using the Verb Doler

Although similar in meaning, doler, an intransitive verb, can't be used to translate the verb "to hurt" without changing the sentence structure. To express the meaning of the transitive verb to hurt someone or something, in Spanish you would need a different verb such as herir, lastimar, or hacer daño.

A different structure should be used in Spanish for the verb doler. Notice the pattern in these sentences:

  • Me duele el diente. (My tooth hurts. Literally, the tooth hurts me.)
  • Me duele amarte. (It hurts me to love you. Literally, to love you pains me.)
  • ¿Te duele la cabeza? (Do you have a headache? Literally, is the head hurting you?)
  •  A mi hijo le duele la garganta. (My son's throat hurts. Literally, the throat is causing pain to my son.)

Note, first, that doler takes an indirect-object pronoun (as in le in the final example). Then, note that the pronoun refers to the person who is experiencing the pain, not what is causing the pain, as is often the case in English. It is usual, as in the above examples, to place the subject of doler after the verb, but it isn't required. Thus, you could say either "me duele el oído" or "el oído me duele" for "I have an earache," but the former is much more common.

One of the peculiarities of Spanish is that the language doesn't use the equivalent of "my" when referring to body parts with the verb doler (and in many other instances). See how the first example above says el diente, not mi diente. The same is true in the following examples:

  • Me duelen los ojos al leer. (My eyes hurt when I read. Literally, the eyes pain me when I read.)
  • Si te duele el pie es mejor que vayas a un doctor. (If your foot hurts, it is best that you go to a doctor. Literally, if the foot pains you, it is best that you go to a doctor)
  • Nos duelen las manos y las rodillas. (Our hands and knees hurt. Literally, the hands and knees pain us.)

Conjugating the Verb Doler

Doler is often used with the body part that hurts as the subject of the sentence, and the person affected as the indirect object. Therefore, the tables below show examples using that format: the verb doler is always conjugated in the third person singular or plural, depending on what is causing the pain, and the indirect object pronoun is always included. For example, la cabeza (head) would use the singular conjugation, Me duele la cabeza (My head hurts), but los pies (feet) would use the plural conjugation Me duelen los pies (My feet hurt). Also, the pain can be caused by something expressed with a verb phrase or clause, in which case the singular form of the verb is used. For example, Le duele dejar al bebé en la guardería (It hurts him to leave the baby at the daycare).

Doler is a stem changing verb, so it is conjugated irregularly in much the same way as contar: If the stem is stressed, the -o- becomes -ue-.

Present Indicative

Notice that in the present indicative there is a stem change o to ue.

A mí me duele(n) Me duele la cabeza de tanto estudiar. My head hurts from studying so much.
A ti te duele(n) Te duelen los pies después de la carrera. Your feet hurt after the race.
A usted/él/ella le duele(n) Le duele el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart hurts because of the sad news.
A nosotros nos duele(n) Nos duelen los brazos de tanto trabajar. Our arms hurt from working so much.
A vosotros os duele(n) Os duele la espalda después del accidente. Your back hurts after the accident.
A ustedes/ellos/ellas les duele(n) Les duele gastar tanto dinero. It pains them to spend so much money.

Preterite Indicative

A mí me dolió/dolieron Me dolió la cabeza de tanto estudiar. My head hurt from studying so much.
A ti te dolió/dolieron Te dolieron los pies después de la carrera. Your feet hurt after the race.
A usted/él/ella le dolió/dolieron Le dolió el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart hurt because of the sad news.
A nosotros nos dolió/dolieron Nos dolieron los brazos de tanto trabajar. Our arms hurt from working so much.
A vosotros os dolió/dolieron Os dolió la espalda después del accidente. Your back hurt after the accident.
A ustedes/ellos/ellas les dolió/dolieron Les dolió gastar tanto dinero. It pained them to spend so much money.

Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect can be translated to English as "was hurting" or "used to hurt."

A mí me dolía(n) Me dolía la cabeza de tanto estudiar. My head was hurting from studying so much.
A ti te dolía(n) Te dolían los pies después de la carrera. Your feet were hurting after the race.
A usted/él/ella le dolía(n) Le dolía el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart was hurting because of the sad news.
A nosotros nos dolía(n) Nos dolían los brazos de tanto trabajar. Our arms were hurting from working so much.
A vosotros os dolía(n) Os dolía la espalda después del accidente. Your back was hurting after the accident.
A ustedes/ellos/ellas les dolía(n) Les dolía gastar tanto dinero. It used to pain them to spend so much money.

Future Indicative

A mí me dolerá(n) Me dolerá la cabeza de tanto estudiar. My head will hurt from studying so much.
A ti te dolerá(n) Te dolerán los pies después de la carrera. Your feet will hurt after the race.
A usted/él/ella le dolerá(n) Le dolerá el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart will hurt because of the sad news.
A nosotros nos dolerá(n) Nos dolerán los brazos de tanto trabajar. Our arms will hurt from working so much.
A vosotros os dolerá(n) Os dolerá la espalda después del accidente. Your back will hurt after the accident.
A ustedes/ellos/ellas les dolerá(n) Les dolerá gastar tanto dinero. It will pain them to spend so much money.

Periphrastic Future Indicative 

A mí me va(n) a doler Me va a doler la cabeza de tanto estudiar. My head is going to hurt from studying so much.
A ti te va(n) a doler Te van a doler los pies después de la carrera. Your feet are going to hurt after the race.
A usted/él/ella le va(n) a doler Le va a doler el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart is going to hurt because of the sad news.
A nosotros nos va(n) a doler Nos van a doler los brazos de tanto trabajar. Our arms are going to hurt from working so much.
A vosotros os va(n) a doler Os va a doler la espalda después del accidente. Your back is going to hurt after the accident.
A ustedes/ellos/ellas les va(n) a doler Les va a doler gastar tanto dinero. It is going to pain them to spend so much money.

Present Progressive/Gerund Form

The present progressive is a verb form that uses the present participle or gerund.

Present Progressive of Doler está(n) doliendo A ella le está doliendo el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart is hurting because of the sad news.

Doler Past Participle

The present perfect is one of the compound verb forms that uses the verb haber and the past participle.

Present Perfect of Doler ha(n) dolido A ella le ha dolido el corazón por la triste noticia. Her heart has hurt because of the sad news.

Doler Conditional Indicative

A mí me dolería(n) Me dolería la cabeza de tanto estudiar si no tomara un descanso. My head would hurt from studying so much if I didn't take a break.
A ti te dolería(n) Te dolerían los pies después de la carrera si no tuvieras buenos zapatos. Your feet would hurt after the race if you didn't have good shoes.
A usted/él/ella le dolería(n) Le dolería el corazón por la triste noticia, pero ella es muy fuerte. Her heart would hurt because of the sad news, but she is very tough.
A nosotros nos dolería(n) Nos dolerían los brazos de tanto trabajar, pero ya estamos acostumbrados. Our arms would hurt from working so much, but we are used to it.
A vosotros os dolería(n) Os dolería la espalda después del accidente si hubiera sido más serio. Your back would hurt after the accident if it had been more serious.
A ustedes/ellos/ellas les dolería(n) Les dolería gastar tanto dinero si no fueran millonarios. It would pain them to spend so much money if they weren't millionaires.

Doler Present Subjunctive

In the present subjunctive the stem change o to ue does occur, just like in the present indicative tense.

Que a mí me duela(n) La maestra espera que no me duela la cabeza de tanto estudiar. The teacher hopes that my head doesn't hurt from studying so much.
Que a ti te duela(n) El entrenador espera que no te duelan los pies después de la carrera.  The coach hopes that your feet don't hurt after the race.
Que a usted/él/ella le duela(n) Su madre espera que no le duela el corazón por la triste noticia. Her mother hopes that her heart doesn't hurt because of the bad news.
Que a nosotros nos duela(n) El jefe espera que no nos duelan los brazos de tanto trabajar. The boss hopes that our arms don't hurt from working so much.
Que a vosotros os duela(n) El doctor espera que no os duela la espalda después del accidente. The doctor hopes that your back doesn't hurt after the accident.
Que a ustedes/ellos/ellas les duela(n) El vendedor espera que no les duela gastar tanto dinero. The salesman hopes that it does not pain them to spend so much money.

Doler Imperfect Subjunctive

There are two options for conjugating the imperfect subjunctive, both considered correct.

Option 1

Que a mí me doliera(n) La maestra esperaba que no me doliera la cabeza de tanto estudiar. The teacher hoped that my head wouldn't hurt from studying so much.
Que a ti te doliera(n) El entrenador esperaba que no te dolieran los pies después de la carrera.  The coach hoped that your feet wouldn't hurt after the race.
Que a usted/él/ella le doliera(n) Su madre esperaba que no le doliera el corazón por la triste noticia. Her mother hoped that her heart wouldn't hurt because of the bad news.
Que a nosotros nos doliera(n) El jefe esperaba que no nos dolieran los brazos de tanto trabajar. The boss hoped that our arms wouldn't hurt from working so much.
Que a vosotros os doliera(n) El doctor esperaba que no os doliera la espalda después del accidente. The doctor hoped that your back wouldn't hurt after the accident.
Que a ustedes/ellos/ellas les doliera(n) El vendedor esperaba que no les doliera gastar tanto dinero. The salesman hoped that it wouldn't pain them to spend so much money.

Option 2

Que a mí me doliese(n) La maestra esperaba que no me doliese la cabeza de tanto estudiar. The teacher hoped that my head wouldn't hurt from studying so much.
Que a ti te doliese(n) El entrenador esperaba que no te doliesen los pies después de la carrera.  The coach hoped that your feet wouldn't hurt after the race.
Que a usted/él/ella le doliese(n) Su madre esperaba que no le doliese el corazón por la triste noticia. Her mother hoped that her heart wouldn't hurt because of the bad news.
Que a nosotros nos doliese(n) El jefe esperaba que no nos doliesen los brazos de tanto trabajar. The boss hoped that our arms wouldn't hurt from working so much.
Que a vosotros os doliese(n) El doctor esperaba que no os doliese la espalda después del accidente. The doctor hoped that your back wouldn't hurt after the accident.
Que a ustedes/ellos/ellas les doliese(n) El vendedor esperaba que no les doliese gastar tanto dinero. The salesman hoped that it wouldn't pain them to spend so much money.

Doler Imperative

The imperative mood is used to give orders or commands, but it doesn't apply to the verb doler. In this case, since the subject is the body part or cause of the pain, the imperative verb forms are never used. To tell a person to hurt someone else, you would use a different verb, such as herir, lastimar or hacer daño.