Spanish has evolved from Latin. The Spanish -ar, -er, and -ir verbs are also from Latin.

Accordding to http://spanishlinguist.us/2013/10/the-origins-of-spanish-ar-er-and-ir-verbs:

Latin’s -āre verb class, which evolved into the -ar class of Spanish, was used:

  1. to turn nouns and adjectives into verbs. Some examples are curare “to care” from cura “care”, navigare “sail” from navex “sailor”, and novare “to renew” from novus “new”.
  2. for repeated or frequent actions. Some examples are dictare “recite” from dicere “say” and factitare “to practice” from facere “to do, make”. for intensives (with a prefix). One example is ocupare “to seize” from capere “to take”.
  3. for intensives (with a prefix). One example is ocupare “to seize” from capere “to take”.

Latin’s -ēre class, which evolved into the -er class of Spanish, was used:

  1. for causatives, such as monere “warn” from men “think” (i.e. to cause someone to think) and docere “to teach” from dek “accept” (i.e. to cause someone to accept).
  2. for verbs that describe states, e.g. calere “to be hot”, frigere “to be cold”, pendere “to be hanging”. Latin’s -ĕre class, which merged into the -er class of Spanish, included a group of change-of-state verbs, e.g. calescere “get hot” (from calere) and tacescere “become quiet” (from tacere “to be quiet”).

Latin’s -īre class, which evolved into the -ir class of Spanish, was used:

  1. to turn nouns into verbs, as in finire “to finish” from finis “end” and servire “to serve, be a slave” from servus “slave”. I don’t know what, if anything, distinguished these from the verbs-from-nouns in the -are class.
  2. for desires, e.g. esurire “to be hungry” from esse “to eat”, parturire “to be in labor” from parere “to give birth”. "

In Spanish there are some pairs of verbs with opposite meanings, where one of them is an -ar verb, while the other one is either an -er or an -ir verb?
"entrar" (to enter) and "salir" (to leave)
"saludar" (to greet) and "despedir" (to dismiss)
"quitar" (to remove) and "poner" (to put)
"levantar" (to awaken) and "dormir" (to sleep)

So, what was the original Latin word for "levantar" and how does it turn a noun or an adjective into a verb or how is it a repeated or frequent action? And I have the same questions for every Spanish verb I have listed in my examples.

  • I first tried asking the question at spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/35378/….
    – Arunabh
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 16:28
  • 7
    This is pretty pedantic, but it feels weird to say that Latin has influences on Spanish - Spanish is a modern form of Latin!
    – Javier
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 6:16
  • I can't find any evidence for a noun navex. Navigare is usually explained as from navis ('ship') + the productive suffix -igo. If navex exists, I'm sure it is a back-formation from navigo.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 22:03
  • Would you really say the opposite of odiar (Latin odi, defective verb, not -are conjugation) is quierer and not amar? The two aren't the same,, but I'm no Spanish native.
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 4:35
  • 1
    I couldn't find navex (sailor) anywhere on Wiktionary, but we all know nauta; perhaps the OP meant that? Commented Jan 5 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, your source is slightly misleading.

It's true that verbs formed from nouns and verbs denoting repeated action in Latin tend to be in the -āre conjugation. However, many other miscellaneous verbs are in the -āre conjugation as well, such as amāre "love", adjuvāre "help", lavāre "wash"…

In most cases, the conjugation of a verb is a historical accident; Latin "cleaned up" its verb system very thoroughly, sorting all verbs into one of four or five different patterns for the present tense. So in most cases, knowing the meaning of a verb won't tell you which conjugation it falls into. For example, audīre and auscultāre both mean "hear/listen", and imperāre and jubēre both mean "command", but they've ended up in different conjugations.

Now, there are certain suffixes that created verbs in a specific conjugation. For example, the suffix -scere creates a verb meaning "to become ___" (calēre "to be hot" > calēscere "to become hot"), and these verbs always end up in the -ere conjugation. This is where most of the meanings listed on that website come from. But there were still, for example, many -ere verbs which weren't created with the suffix -scere, which had all sorts of different meanings (dicere "say", currere "run", etc).

(As a side note, the site also implies certain things are Latin when they're not. For example, the roots it lists as "men" and "dek" are actually Proto-Indo-European reconstructions, *m-n- and *d-ḱ-, not anything that ever existed within Latin itself. Those pertain to how the -ēre conjugation originally developed in the first place, not how it worked in Latin times.)

  • 1
    Just a minor qualification on your statement "the suffix -scere creates a verb meaning "to become__"( calēre 'to be hot' > calēscere 'to become hot')". Strictly speaking, unprefixed -sc- verbs are not telic, whereby the translation of calescere as 'to become hot' is not accurate enough. As pointed out by Haverling (2010: 297-298), the suffix -sc- just adds dynamicity to the stative verb, as in calescit 'it is getting warmer'; the -sco verbs become telic when prefixed as in concalescit 'it becomes warm'. So unprefixed -sc- verbs express atelic/ indefinite change of state.
    – Mitomino
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 19:01
  • 1
    See Haverling's (2010: 299) precise translations of stative verbs (calere 'to be hot'), atelic/ indefinite change of state verbs (calescere 'to become warmer'), and telic/definite change of state verbs (concalescere 'to become warm'). Source: Haverling, Gerd. (2010). “Actionality, Tense, and Viewpoint”. In Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax (chap. 4, vol. II), Philip Baldi & Pierluigi Cuzzolin (eds.), 277-524. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    – Mitomino
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 19:11

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