Spanish verb pairs that differ only in conjugation class

While researching the origin of the three conjugation classes of Spanish — ar, er, and ir — I recently turned to the lovely folks at the Spanish-English vocabulary forum to help me think of pairs of Spanish verbs that differ only in their conjugation class. The only two I had thought of were sentar/sentir and crear/creer.

These pairs are a nice reminder that the conjugation classes, by themselves, are void of meaning. Please see my original post (link above) for an example of a language (Hebrew) where the same verb root can appear in more than one conjugation class, with each class adding a predictable nuance to the verb root’s core meaning.

Here is my full list, which I will continue to edit as I learn of more. Note that there are no triplets on the list, and that all the pairs contrast -ar with either -er or -ir. This may be a coincidence, but the fact that -er and -ir verbs have almost identical conjugations (the only difference is in the nosotros and vosotros present indicative) would make triplets or an -er/-ir contrast hard to learn and to maintain.

Please let me know if can think of any more.

  • asentar/asentir
  • crear/creer
  • fundar/fundir
  • mentar/mentir
  • molar/moler
  • morar/morir
  • parar/parir
  • podar/poder
  • rendar/rendir (render is also in the RAE, but only as an antiquated form of rendir).
  • salar/salir
  • sentar/sentir
  • solar/soler
  • sumar/sumir
  • tejar/tejer
  • vivar/vivir

2 thoughts on “Spanish verb pairs that differ only in conjugation class

  1. Kevin Shea

    Here are some more pairs and trios. I am only a student of Spanish, so don’t take my word for them. It was a fun exercise to try finding them (I have an interest in linguistics and computer science). I’ve included words that have stems that can sound the same. If you consider these, then asar/asir/hacer make one for each class. Also note that the only other contrast of two different verbs with a similar stem, which also belong to -er and -ir are desasir/deshacer. Interesting because of what you said about difficulty in maintaining contrast.

    Verbs whose stems can sound the same, but are in different classes:

    aplacer please
    aplazar put off

    asar roast
    asir grasp
    hacer make

    balar baa, bleat
    valer cost

    vendar bandage, bind
    vender sell

    desasir disengage, loosen
    deshacer undo

    fallar fail, miss
    fallir go bankrupt

    imprimar prime
    imprimir imprint

    caber admit
    cavar dig

    converger converge
    convergir converge

    consumar complete
    consumir consume

    malparar damage
    malparir miscarry

    mecer swing
    mesar tear

    pacer graze
    pasar pass

    prendar enchant, pawn
    prender turn on

    presentar introduce
    presentir forebode, suspect

    remecer rock, shake, swing
    remesar remit, send

    repelar crop
    repeler repel, repulse

    resumir summarize
    rezumar leak, ooze

    cegar blind, dazzle
    segar cut, mow
    seguir follow

    sumar add
    sumir plunge

    Verbs whose stems can sound the same, and are in the same class:

    abrasar burn
    abrazar hug

    acecinar cure, dry
    asesinar kill

    botar throw away
    votar vote

    errar mistaken, wander
    herrar brand with iron

    estibar load, stow
    estivar estivate

    fresar mill
    frezar spawn

    grabar engrave
    gravar burden

    casar marry
    cazar hunt

    cocer cook
    coser sew

    hozar nuzzle
    osar dare, venture

    recocer boil over
    recoser darn

    cerrar close
    serrar saw

    1. jhochberg Post author

      Kevin, thanks — these are great! I will add those in the first group to my list. Those in the second group show the advantage of being Castilian. Your examples with hacer are the only ones I’ve seen that contrast -er and -ir verbs. And then there’s the converger/ir thing — very, very odd. I have to look into that one. Gracias por leer y escribir — Judy


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