Soler is one of the most frequently used Spanish verbs among native speakers. That’s why I wanted to bring it into spotlight today.
The sooner you know how to use this verb the better, because it has a wide application area.
It is highly possible that you hear this verb being used while having conversations on habits or hobbies. It’s therefore very practical to learn this verb. Think that how often you talk about your habits and hobbies; you will understand that starting to use this verb will make your Spanish vocabulary sound great, already at the stage when you are a beginner.
What is so special about this verb is that it does not express an activity as we would expect from a verb.
It has two separate but close meanings. The first meaning is related to how often an activity is done at present. And the second meaning expresses that an activity was used to be done in the past
1. It is used to indicate the frequency of an activity
More specifically, when soler is used the speaker tells that the activity is done generally.
It is also possible to translate soler as typically, normally or usually. Thus,
Soler ~ normally, generally, typically, usually…
The only point you should take into account is the following. The words which indicate how often something is done, such as normally, generally, usually etc. are adverbs. But, soler is a verb. That means if you want to make sentences with it, you need to conjugate soler in accordance with the personal pronoun.
Let us look at its conjugation in present tense.
Soler is an irregular verb and it follows the rule: o->ue. This means that when conjugating this verb, only the first and second persons plural (nosotros/-as and vosotros/-as) remain the same. The root of the verb for the other personal pronouns change from “o” to “ue”.
|ellos/ ellas/ ustedes||suelen|
Let us make an example sentence:
- suelo ir a clase de ingles los juevos
Above sentence means
“I generally go to english class on thurdays”. Instead, you could say also “voy a clase de ingles los juevos generalmente”.
As you see from the example sentence, soler is used together with the infinitive form of the verb. Thus;
FORMULA for soler:
Soler (conjugate it in accordance with the right person) + VERBO INFINITIVO
If you want to make sentences for other persons, of course you need to conjugate
For the other subject pronouns the same sentence reads
- sueles ir a clase de ingles los juevos
- suele ir a clase de ingles los juevos
- solemos ir a clase de ingles los juevos
- soléis ir a clase de ingles los juevos
- suelen ir a clase de ingles los juevos
2. It is used to express that an activity was being done in the past
When it is used in the past tense, soler can be translated to English as “used to”; as in the sentence “I used to go to church on Sundays but not anymore”.
Let us have an example sentence again
- solíamos jugar al tennis todos los días we used to play tennis every day
- Solía jugar al tenis todos los días (I used to play tenis everyday)
From this sentence, we understand that these people had the habit to go to beach in the past. So, translation is “I/we used to play tennis everyday”. Or “It was my/our custom to play tennis everyday”.
In english, “used to” does not change according to the pronoun. But the Spanish soler does. Hence the formula is the same as point 1 above, but this time we need to conjugate the verb in a past tense. Very often this past tense will be “imperfect”.
FORMULA for soler
Soler (conjugate it in accordance with the subject pronoun but in this case in the past tense, for example in “imperfect”) + VERBO INFINITIVO