Spanish Language

How do you use the Verb Trabajar in Spanish

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Spanish verb conjugation: Trabajar

If you are interested in learning a second language, one of the most important tasks is to learn the verbs of that language. Without the ability to conjugate verbs, you will be at a loss when it comes to conversing in any language.

The Spanish verb trabajar means "to work" in English. Just as in English, there are different forms of the verb depending on who the subject is and what the tense is. The objective of this article is to present for you in an organized format, conjugations of the verb trabajar for the most important verb tenses.

Throughout this article you will notice letters enclosed in parentheses. Due to formatting constraints, these parentheses are being used in the place of accents above letters. The benefit to you as the reader is that accents are meant to indicate stress. Wherever you see parentheses around a letter, it means that you should emphasize that syllable in the word.

You will probably find it is hard not to emphasize that syllable when it is surrounded by parentheses! If there are no parentheses in a word, you generally should stress the second to last syllable.

In general, in Spanish, the subject of the sentence is dropped unless there is ambiguity about who the subject is. For the purposes of this article, subjects will be left out. However, for your reference, they are presented below:

Yo = I
Tu = You (informal)
Usted = You (formal)
El/Ella = He/She

Nosotros/Nosotras = We
Vosotros/Vosotras = You
Ustedes = You (plural)
Ellos/Ellas = They

Another important note, is that "vosotros" is only used in Spain. If you don't live in Spain and don't plan to travel there, you can ignore this verb form!


1. Trabajar: Present Indicative

The present indicative is used to refer to actions in the present.

Trabajo = I work
Trabajas = You work (formal)
Trabaja = You work (informal), He/She works

Trabajamos = We work
Trabaj(a)is = You work (plural - Spain)
Trabajan = You work (plural), They work


2. Trabajar: Past tense (Preterite)

The preterite is used to refer to actions in the past that are completed.

Trabaj(e) = I worked
Trabajaste = You worked (informal)
Trabaj(o) = You worked (formal), He/She worked

Trabajamos = We worked
Trabajasteis = You worked (plural - Spain)
Trabajaron = You worked (plural), They worked


3. Trabajar: Past tense (Imperfect)

The imperfect tense is used to refer to actions in the past that were habitual or continuing. Notice that the verb form is the same for the "I", "you" (formal), "he" and "she" forms. This should make learning this tense very easy!

Trabajaba = I used to work
Trabajabas = You used to work (informal)
Trabajaba = You used to work (formal), He/She used to work

Trabaj(a)bamos = We used to work
Trabajabais = You used to work (plural - Spain)
Trabajaban = You used to work (plural), They used to work


4. Trabajar: Present Perfect

The present perfect is used to refer to things that you have done. The present perfect of trabajar is formed by using the correct form of the helping verb "haber" plus the past participle of trabajar. Clear as mud? It really is quite simple.

Take "trabajar" and drop the "ar". Add the letters "ado" to the end and presto, you have the past participle, "trabajado", which means "worked". All you need now is another word before it that means "have" as you will see described below.

He trabajado = I have worked
Has trabajado = You have worked (informal)
Ha trabajado = You have worked (formal), He/She has worked

Hemos trabajado = We have worked
Hab(e)is trabajado = You have worked (plural - Spain)
Han trabajado = You have worked (plural), They have worked


5. Trabajar: Present Progressive

The present progressive is a very easy tense to learn and a good one to start out with. Basically, it has to do with the ending "ing" in English. When you say "I am working" in English, you are using the present progressive. In Spanish, instead of adding "ing" they add "ando". Then all you need is a word at the beginning that says "am", "is", or "are" (as shown below) and you are all set.

Estoy trabajando = I am working
Est(a)s trabajando = You are working (informal)
Est(a) trabajando = You are working (formal), He/She is working

Estamos trabajando = We are working
Est(a)is trabajando = You are working (plural - Spain)
Est(a)n trabajando = You are working (plural), They are working


6. Trabajar: Future

There is a very simple way of creating the future tense in Spanish and it mirrors how we speak in English. In English we say "I am going to work". The Spanish sentence is created in the same way. The words "to work" are replaced by "trabajar". All we need is some words at the beginning that mean "going to" which are described below.

Voy a trabajar = I am going to work
Vas a trabajar = You are going to work (informal)
Va a trabajar = You are going to work (formal), He/She is going to work

Vamos a trabajar = We are going to work
Vais a trabajar = You are going to work (plural - Spain)
Van a trabajar = You are going to work (plural), They are going to work


7. Trabajar: Future Perfect

There is another future tense that you will not hear very often in conversation. Make note of this form since it is used in writing, but when you are speaking, it is easiest to use the future tense described in item 6.

Trabajar(e) = I will work
Trabajar(a)s = You will work (informal)
Trabajar(a) = You will work (formal), He/She will work

Trabajaremos = We will work
Trabajar(e)is = You will work (plural - Spain)
Trabajar(a)n = You will work (plural), They will work


8. Trabajar: Imperative

The imperative tense is used when you are giving a command. Since it is a command, it is only used with the "you" forms of the verb.

Trabaja = Work (informal)
Trabaje = Work (formal)

Trabajad = Work (plural - Spain)
Trabajen = Work (plural)


9. Trabajar: Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive is a form of the present tense that is used after certain expressions. In general, in Spanish, if you say things like "I hope that", "I doubt that", "I'm afraid that", the rest of the sentence takes the subjunctive form of the verb. A complete explanation of the subjunctive is beyond the scope of this article. For further information consult the reference given at the end.

Trabaje = I work
Trabajes = You work (informal)
Trabaje = You work (formal), He/She works

Trabajemos = We work
Trabaj(e)is = You work (plural - Spain)
Trabajen = You work (plural), They work


10. Trabajar: Past Subjunctive

The past subjunctive is used in the same circumstances as described above for the present subjunctive.

Trabajara = I worked
Trabajaras = You worked (informal)
Trabajara = You worked (formal), He/She worked

Trabaj(a)ramos = We worked
Trabajarais = You worked (plural - Spain)
Trabajaran = You worked (plural), They worked


11. Trabajar: Compound Subjunctive

The compound subjunctive is used to say that you "have" done something in the same circumstances as outlined for the present subjunctive.

Haya trabajado = I have worked
Hayas trabajado = You have worked (informal)
Haya trabajado = You have worked (formal), He/She has worked

Hayamos trabajado = We have worked
Hay(a)is trabajado = You have worked (plural - Spain)
Hayan trabajado = You have worked (plural), They have worked


12. Trabajar: Conditional

The conditional tense is used to say that you "would" do something.

Trabajar(i)a = I would work
Trabajar(i)as = You would work (informal)
Trabajar(i)a = You would work (formal), He/She would work

Trabajar(i)amos = We would work
Trabajar(i)ais = You would work (plural - Spain)
Trabajar(i)an = You would work (plural), They would work


13. Trabajar: Past Perfect Indicative

The past perfect indicative is used to say that you "had" done something.

Hab(i)a trabajado = I had worked
Hab(i)as trabajado = You had worked (informal)
Hab(i)a trabajado = You had worked (formal), He/She had worked

Hab(i)amos trabajado = We had worked
Hab(i)ais trabajado = You had worked (plural - Spain)
Hab(i)an trabajado = You had worked (plural), They had worked


14. Trabajar: Past Perfect Subjunctive

The past perfect subjunctive is used to say that you "had" done something after the expressions typically requiring the subjunctive.

Hubiera trabajado = I had worked
Hubieras trabajado = You had worked (informal)
Hubiera trabajado = You had worked (formal), He/She had worked

Hubi(e)ramos trabajado = We had worked
Hubierais trabajado = You had worked (plural - Spain)
Hubieran trabajado = You had worked (plural), They had worked


Madrigal, M. Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish (1989). New York: Broadway Books.

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