Spanish Preterite: -aer, -eer, -or, and -oer verbs

In order for many Spanish verbs to maintain their infinitive form sound, it's necessary for them to change orthographically (spelling) when in the preterite past tense. For verbs ending in -aer, -eer, -or, and -oer, in the l/ella/usted forms the "i" is replaced with "y". And in the third person plural (ustedes/ellos/ellas) the ending is replaced with "yeron". In all other preterite forms an accent is placed over the letter "i". Consider the following examples. Listen to each conjugation, then repeat them out loud.

-aer, -eer, -or, and -oer verbs

The verb creer (to believe) is a good example of how -aer, -eer, -or, and -oer verbs are conjugated in the preterite. Other verbs that are conjugated in the preterite in the same way as creer include:

  • caer (to fall)
  • leer (to read)
  • or (to hear)
  • poseer (to possess)
  • proveer (to provide)
  • roer (to gnaw)

to believe
creer
I believed
cre
you believed (familiar)
creste
you believed (formal)
he believed
she believed
crey
we believed
cremos
you believed (familiar plural)
cresteis
you believed (formal plural)
they believed
creyeron
There are however a few exceptions to how -aer verbs are conjugated in the preterite. These include the verbs traer, atraer and distraer. Conjugation of these verbs in the preterite is covered in another section.

-uir verbs in the preterite

Spanish verbs ending in -uir are conjugated in the preterite in a similar fashion to -eer verbs, but an accent (tilde) is placed over the letter "i" in the "yo" form. Read and listen to the following conjugations of the word "huir" in the preterite, then repeat each out loud.

to flee
huir
I fled
hu
you fled (familiar)
huiste
you fled (formal)
he fled
she fled
huy
we fled
huimos
you fled (familiar plural)
huisteis
you fled (formal plural)
they fled
huyeron