Understand and use o>ue, e>ie, and e>i stem-changing verbs

Gramática: Verbos con cambio de raíz (Stem-changing verbs)

We’ve seen a number of verbs so far that change the final vowel of their stem in some of their conjugated forms, for example: ¡Ay! Me duelen los pies (doler), and Los niños tienen diez años (tener). These are not random irregularities– there are three categories of stem-changing verbs, which all follow a similar pattern of changing the last vowel of their stem in the conjugated forms where that vowel is stressed.

A. Verbos con cambio de raíz e>ie

Play AudioComenzar (to start, to begin)
Singular Plural
1a Play Audiocomienzo Play Audiocomenzamos
2a Play Audiocomienzas Play Audiocomenzáis
3a Play Audiocomienza Play Audiocomienzan

Note that the nosotros and vosotros forms do not change their ‘e’ to ‘ie’, because the stress in those forms falls on the next syllable.

And remember that the stem-changing vowel does not affect the personal ending for the verb, which depends on who the subject is and whether the verb is in the -AR, -ER, or -IR conjugation group. Here’s an example of an -ER verb that has the e>ie stem change:

Play AudioQuerer (to want)
Singular Plural
1a Play Audioquiero Play Audioqueremos
2a Play Audioquieres Play Audioqueréis
3a Play Audioquiere Play Audioquieren

B. Verbos con cambio de raíz o>ue

Play AudioDormir (to sleep)
Singular Plural
1a Play Audioduermo Play Audiodormimos
2a Play Audioduermes Play Audiodormís
3a Play Audioduerme Play Audioduermen

C. Verbos con cambio de raíz e>i

Interestingly, all the verbs in this group are -IR verbs.

Play AudioPedir (to ask for, to request)
Singular Plural
1a Play Audiopido Play Audiopedimos
2a Play Audiopides Play Audiopedís
3a Play Audiopide Play Audiopiden

Vocabulario: algunos verbos con cambio de raíz


  • Play AudioAlmorzar (to eat lunch)
  • Play AudioCostar (to cost)
  • Play AudioDevolver (to return a thing, to give back)
  • Play AudioEncontrar (to find)
  • Play AudioJugar (to play) (u>ue: juego, juegas, juega, jugamos, jugáis, juegan)
  • Play AudioPoder (to be able)
  • Play AudioRecordar (to remember)
  • Play AudioVolver (to return, to come back)


  • Play AudioCerrar (to close)
  • Play AudioEmpezar (to start, to begin)
  • Play AudioEntender (to understand)
  • Play AudioPensar (to think)
  • Play AudioPreferir (to prefer)
  • Play AudioPerder (to lose)
  • Play AudioSentir (to feel)
  • Play AudioTener (to have) (yo tengo, tú tienes…)
  • Play AudioVenir (to come) (yo vengo, tú vienes…)


“El que rίe de último rίe mejor” (The one that laughs last, laughs better.)

  • Play AudioDecir (to say, to tell) (yo digo, tú dices…)
  • Play AudioReír (to laugh) (yo río, tú ríes, él ríe, nosotros reímos, vosotros reís, ellos ríen)
  • Play AudioRepetir (to repeat)
  • Play AudioSeguir (to follow, to continue)
  • Play AudioServir (to serve)
  • Play AudioSonreír (to smile) (yo sonrío, tú sonríes…)