Spanish Question

Hi SD,

Are andar and estar the only verbs that end in -ar that have a preterite using the -uve -uviste preterite verb forms? If so, why just these verbs? They don’t seem related to each other, and other verbs that also are spelled similarly use an expected ending. For example, for prestar vs. estar, yo este (accent on e) is wrong, but preste (accent on e) is ok? Similarly, andar has the same spelling as brindar (same last four letters at least) and brinde is good but not ande? What makes these two words special? Can you enlighten me on what is going on?

Thanks, Dave

They follow the “-tener verb” form of irregular conjugation. All verbs with ‘tener’ in them like mantener, obtener, contener, sostener, etc. conjugate with the uve, uviste, etc. form in the preterite tense. The same words in English end in “-tain” - maintain, obtain, contain, sustain, etc.

No idea why andar and estar follow that form too, but in almost all questions about why irregular verbs are the way they are the only answer is “because that is just the way they are.”

I hope that someone with better Spanish grammar knowledge can shed more light but I fear that is probably the case here too.

+1 and a “thank you” to Crazyhorse.

I think, basically, because they are “irregular”, and that’s what makes them irregular. As far as I know, all natural inflected languages have some irregular forms.

Most languages that are restricted to a single country, from time to time, simply “announce” that there will be changes in the language, and it’s a done deal, and people just have to get used to it. Why can’t the powers that be just regularize all irregular forms, they way they metricized measurement to universalize the metric system? L’academie francais could just make French a wonderfully easy language to learn.

It would be a great deal more difficult to do that in a language spoken in many countries, like English or Spanish. Even American and Canadian “rules” differ.

Cite please for this naked assertion of fact. Cite to its occurrence and to the idea “most” of a language that meets to supposed criteria take any such action “from time to time” please.

First, because for the native speaker learner this perspective is imposing a large cost for no great advantage to the native speakers.

Or the French language…

For the second time this week, I recommend to Dopers the book Words and Rules, by Steven Pinker. Most of its examples are from English, but not all of them. It’s really about how the human brain processes “regular” and “irregular” forms differently. Among other things, you’ll learn that “irregular” forms have their own regularities.

A perfect example of this: the other day, my 5-year-old son said he thought he might have “sprun” his ankle (he was perfectly fine, BTW). He had subconsciously put “to sprain” in the same category as, say, “to sing.” If there is a “rule” he’s applying (mistakenly, in this case), then maybe calling these verbs “irregular” is a bit misleading. “Non-default” would be more accurate.

These verbs descent from the ablaut system. Which is a sort-of regular system, just a different regular system.

Who, henceforth, shall be knowns as “Caballo Loco”! :smiley:

Exactly. Well put. Known as “strong” verbs in some Germanic language studies. The distinction goes all the way back to Proto-Indo-European – even the basic English forms are detectable at that early date (present tenses with more of an -e or -i type of sound, or unmarked; past tenses with more of an -o or -u type of sound).

Et encore, “Cite please for this naked assertion of fact. Cite to its occurrence and to the idea “most” of a language that meets to supposed criteria take any such action “from time to time” please…

A reformof spelling is not relevant to the concept of the change of the grammatical system.

It also is not relevant to the idea that “most” countries of single language zones do such reforms / changes to their standard taught grammars.

in effect it is 100 per cent irrelevant.

Note that the cite itself indicates people did not “just accept the changes”. And one thing the cite does not say is that, as spelling reforms don’t affect material written prior to them, they mean people need to be familiar with two versions, old and new. OK, so they eliminated a lot of instances of ß from schoolbooks - that didn’t eliminate words with its old usage from a ton of signs, movies, paintings, glass windows…

The Spanish Academies very-slight updates to their Ortografía seem to come in two flavors: those which are linked to the limitations of some new medium (teletext, computers, text messages) and those which reflect the acceptance of some usage that’s pretty extensive.


The minor adjustment of the spelling is not any way similar to a change of the system of conjugation of verbs and of course the naked assertion that these acts are taken all the time is not supported.

Please, just admit you were wrong.

De nada senorita.

That’s Don Caballo Loco to you, senor! :slight_smile:

Wait, wait, I just needed to send a letter to my city hall…

Muy Excelentísimo Señor Don Caballo Loco.

You’re not clergy, are you? That could get you a Reverendísimo :slight_smile:

I meant in the Mexican Spanish sense of Don - i.e. very important and respected or very old and respected. (take your pick.) But I do sort of like the sound of this Reverendísimo status! :slight_smile: