Spanish Preterite: -gar, -car and -zar verbs

For some verbs to maintain the sound they make in the infinitive, it is necessary for them to change orthographically (spelling) in the preterite past tense.

Preterite "yo" form changes

The following changes are made in the "yo" form only for verbs ending in -gar, -car and -zar:

  • Verbs with -gar ending: g changes to gu (i.e jugar -> yo jugué)
  • Verbs with -car ending: c changes to qu (i.e buscar -> yo busqué)
  • Verbs with -zar ending: z changes to c (i.e almorzar -> yo almorcé)

Below we've listed some of the most common orthographic changing -gar, -car and -zar verbs for the preterite tense in Spanish. Read and listen to each word, then repeat it out loud.

-gar Verbs

to blind
cegar
I blinded
yo cegué


to hang
colgar
I hung
yo colgué


to play
jugar
I played
yo jugué


to arrive
llegar
I arrived
yo llegué


to pay
pagar
I paid
yo pagué


to fold
plegar
I folded
yo plegué


to water
regar
I watered
yo regué


to beg
rogar
I begged
yo rogué


to swallow
tragar
I swallowed
yo tragué


to wander
vagar
I wandered
yo vagué

-car Verbs

to park
aparcar
I parked
yo apaqué


to search for
buscar
I searched
yo busqué


to clarify
clarificar
I clarified
yo clarifiqué


to classify
clasificar
I classified
yo clasifiqué


to highlight
destacar
I highlighted
yo destaqué


to pack
empacar
I packed
yo empaqué


to justify
justificar
I justified
yo justifiqué


to practice
practicar
I practiced
yo practiqué


to take
sacar
I took
yo saqué


to touch
tocar
I touched
yo toqué

-zar Verbs

to have lunch
almorzar
I had lunch
yo almor


to authorize
autorizar
I authorized
yo autori


to hunt
cazar
I hunted
yo ca


to begin
comenzar
I began
yo comen


to cross
cruzar
I crossed
yo cru


to start
empezar
I started
yo empe


to force
forzar
I forced
yo for


to organize
organizar
I organized
yo organi


to symbolize
simbolizar
I symbolized
yo simboli


to stumble
tropezarse
I stumbled
yo me trope