The preterite of regular -ar verbs
To form the preterite of -ar verbs, replace the final -ar with the following endings (for our example, we'll use the verb tomar, to take, drink):
Spelling rule for verbs ending in -gar, -car and -zar
When you remove the -ar from a verb such as llegar, jugar, you end up with a stem (lleg-, jug-) ending in g. As you might expect, when -é is added to this stem, an extra u is inserted in the spelling: llegué, jugué. (Recall that a g before a e or i normally represents the same sound as j in Spanish.)
Similarly, to preserve its sound, the c of verbs such as buscar changes to qu before the preterite ending -é: (yo) busqué.
In verbs ending in -zar such as empezar, the z also changes to c before the -é ending ((yo) empecé).
Practise the preterite of -ar verbs
Fill in the grid below with the appropriate preterite form. Click on the vocab button to the left of the grid to see the list of verbs expected.
On the next page, we move on to look at the preterite of -er and -ir verbs.