Posted by: janecronin | April 15, 2018


“Conducir” means “to drive” and comes from the same root as our English word “conduct” although of course it has a different meaning.  “Conducir” is a regular verb in all but one tense, namely the Preterite, or past simple.  In that tense its forms are:  “conduje” (I drove); “condujiste” (you drove) “condujo” (he or she drove); “condujimos” (we drove); “condujisteis” (you drove, plural); “condujeron” (they drove).    Most of the irregular verbs in this tense are rather common ones like “go” “put” and “have” so an irregular “conducir” can come as a surprise.  You may be aware that there is an English football commentator who works on the Spanish media by the name of Michael Robinson.  His Spanish is very fluent but he does make some choice mistakes from time to time and gets his leg pulled for them.  The other day on the radio he said: “conducí” instead of “conduje” for “I drove”.  I just thought you might like to know that even the great have their moments of weakness when it comes to irregular verbs.

Apart from that, the first person singular in the present tense has that lovely form “conduzco” (I drive) where the “z” (which sounds like our “th”) and the “c” (which sounds like our “k”) get put together, so that the  sound is “conduthko”.  There are a few other verbs whose infinitive ends in “cer” or “cir” that do the same thing.  I call them “committee” verbs because I always imagine that the spelling could just as easily have been “conduzo” or “conduco” but it was put to a special verb committee and there was no casting vote that day so they just decided to stick both sounds together.  Please don´t take any notice of this theory, I just have to amuse myself somehow.

So, you may or may not be surprised to know that the word for “driver” in Spanish is “conductor” and a female driver a “conductora”.  This is completely logical if you think about it, and I don´t know why we gave that word to those people who used to walk up and down buses selling tickets.  In English we also use the word “conductor” to describe someone who leads an orchestra but in Spanish that person is a “director” or “directora” as they “direct” (dirigir) the orchestra.

When we use the verb “conducir” in speech we should be careful not to translate one of our English peculiarities into literal Spanish as it will not make sense.  We say “I’ll drive you to the airport” or “He drove his friend to the station”.   In Spanish we drive cars, buses, lorries and taxis but we don´t drive people, instead we say “llevar (en coche)”. So these sentences would be “Te llevo al aeropuerto” and “Llevó a sus amigos a la estación”.  We only need to add “en coche” if there is any kind of doubt about the form of transport being used.

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