Oír Verb Conjugation in Spanish

The verb oír means “to hear” in English and is one of the five senses, or los cinco sentidos. Hearing is something that we do every day making oír a commonly used verb in Spanish. Therefore, it’s important to learn it’s use and its conjugations early on.

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Conjugations for Oír

As the verb oír has two vowels next to each other this makes for some tricky and very irregular conjugations in the present and preterite tenses. This will be one of the many irregular verbs you will have to practice and memorize as it does not follow the normal conjugation rules.

Present

Yo

oigo

Nosotros/as

oímos

oyes

Vosotros/as

oís

Él/Ella/Ud.

oye

Ellos/Ellas/Uds.

oyen

Example Sentence:

  • No te oigo, ¿puedes repetir? → I can’t hear you, can you say that again?

Imperfect

Yo

oía

Nosotros/as

oíamos

oías

Vosotros/as

oíais

Él/Ella/Ud.

oía

Ellos/Ellas/Uds.

oían

Example Sentence:

  • Cuando vivíamos en el campo, oíamos el gallo al amanecer. → When we lived in the country, we used to hear the rooster at sunrise.

Preterite

Yo

Nosotros/as

oímos

oíste

Vosotros/as

oísteis

Él/Ella/Ud.

oyó

Ellos/Ellas/Uds.

oyeron

Example Sentence:

  • ¿Oíste el ruido que estaban haciendo los vecinos toda la noche? → Did you hear all the noise from the neighbors last night?

Future

Yo

oiré

Nosotros/as

oiremos

oirás

Vosotros/as

oiréis

Él/Ella/Ud.

oirá

Ellos/Ellas/Uds.

oirán

Example Sentence:

  • Cuando vayáis a Cadiz, oiréis las olas del mar. → When you guys go to Cadiz, you will hear the waves of the ocean.

Conditional

Yo

oiría

Nosotros/as

oiríamos

oirías

Vosotros/as

oiríais

Él/Ella/Ud.

oiría

Ellos/Ellas/Uds.

oirían

Example Sentence:

  • Si fuéramos a la jungla, oiríamos todos los animales. → If we went to the jungle, we would hear all the animals.

Oír vs Escuchar

Oír is often confused with the verb escuchar meaning “to listen” however the difference between the two is very straightforward. Oír, or “to hear,” is an involuntary action, whereas escuchar, or “to listen,” is voluntary and requires one to pay attention and try to understand what is being heard. Here are two examples to help understand the difference:

  • No te oigo. → I can’t hear you.
    This means that the person speaking physically cannot hear the other person.
  • No te escucho. → I am not listening to you/I can’t understand you
    This means that the person may have been distracted when listening to you. This expression is more often said in the past tense with an apology, perdón, no te escuché, meaning, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear/understand you.”
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Starting a Conversation with the Imperative Form of Oír

It is very common for native speakers to start a conversation with the formal, oiga, and informal, oye, imperative form of the verb oír. This can be most easily translated into English as, “so” or “hey.” To better understand this, let’s look at a few examples of phone conversations.

  • Informal Imperative
    (Mario and Felipe are cousins)

    Mario: Hola, ¿qué tal? ¿Cómo estás? → Hi, what’s up? How are you?
    Felipe: Bien, bien. → Good, good.
    Mario: Oye...¿ya has hablado con María? → Hey, so, have you talked with María?
    Felipe: Pues, todavía no. → Well, not yet.
  • Formal Imperative
    (Ana is calling the dentist’s office)

    Dentist’s Office: Buenos días, ¿en que le puedo ayudar? → Good morning, what can I help you with?
    Ana: Hola, buenos días. Oiga...¿quería saber si podría hacer una cita para mañana a las 2:00 de la tarde? → Hello, good morning. Hey, so, I was wondering if I could make an appointment for tomorrow at 2:00 pm?
    Dentist’s Office: Claro que sí, le agendo ahora mismo. → Of course, I will schedule you right now.

Now that you have some of the most common conjugations as well as some colloquial uses of the verb oír you can start using it in your everyday language.