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#249 – Spanish Preterit tense – Part 5

Corporate Spanish Trainer

Spanish Preterit tense – Part 5

-car, -gar and -zar verbs

Yo toqué mi guitarra anoche.







Post 249/365
Es jueves, 30 de noviembre de 2017



Muchas gracias por estar aquí.


We’ve been learning the preterit tense in Spanish. We did regular verbs on Tuesday and yesterday we started irregular verbs with the verb ‘ir’.


Today, let’s look at ‘Yo’ form irregular verbs in the preterit tense. These are called -car, -gar and -zar verbs.


This group of verbs end in… -car, -gar and -zar verbs.



tocar – to play a musical instrument / to touch

llegar – to arrive

gozar – to enjoy

Note: Even if you don’t know the rule I’m about to present, you’ll probably still pronounce these correctly. It’s the reading or writing that can throw us. Especially the 1st time you see these.



When we say ‘tocar’ the ‘ca’ sound is hard like a ‘k
When we say ‘llegar’ the ‘ga‘ is a hard sound
The –zar verbs are not based on a sound like the -car / -gar verbs are.


If we were to conjugate these verbs just like any other verb in the preterit tense, we’d get…

Yo to – soft like an ‘s’
Yo lle – soft like an ‘h’
-zar verbs – see note below*


3. In order to avoid this phonetic change to the verb, we need to change the spelling slightly.


-car verbs – buscar, sacar, tocar, pescar, explicar, marcar

Change the ‘c’ to a ‘qu’ then add the accented ‘é’.

Yo toqué

Yo busqué

Yo expliqué



-gar verbs – llegar, apagar, jugar, pagar, colgar

Add a ‘u’ to make the ‘g’ hard the add the accented ‘é’.

Yo llegué

Yo pagué

Yo jugué



-zar verbs – gozar, almorzar, realizar, abrazar, cruzar

Change the ‘z’ to a ‘c’ then add the accented ‘é’.

Yo gocé

Yo almorcé

Yo crucé


*The reason why -zar verbs get this change is because they are actually ‘irregular’ in the infinitive form. The verb is really ‘almorcar’, but that sound is hard so the infinitive actually changes to the ‘z‘ to soften the sound, ‘almorzar’. In the ‘Yo’ form of the preterit tense, we don’t need that irregularity so these verbs go back to their natural state. Did you know that there were irregular infinitives?!



4. Notice that all the other forms of these verbs are regular:

Tú tocaste la guitarra pero yo la toqué.

Ella buscó a su gato pero yo busqué a mi gato.

Ellos almorzaron al mediodía y yo almorcé a la 1:00 (una)





(apagar) Yo _____________ la luz. – I turned off the light.

(llegar) Yo _____________ temprano. – I arrived early

(explicar) Yo _____________ la situación. – I explained the situation.

(marcar) Yo _____________ el número. – I dialed the number

(abrazar) Yo _____________ a mi hijo. – I hugged my son.

(gozar) Yo _____________ de la cena. – I enjoyed the dinner.

(jugar) Yo _____________ al aljedrez. – I played chess.

(cruzar) Yo _____________ la calle. – I crossed the street.



Action steps: Take one verb per group and conjugate it the whole way out. Do the Práctica above aloud several times.

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Muchas gracias y hasta mañana,