Posted by: janecronin | March 24, 2019


Here is a verb that does what it says on the packet.  It looks like “prefer” and that is exactly what it means.  This verb is “root-changing e-ie” which means that in certain forms the middle “e” becomes “ie”.  Therefore, for example “I prefer” is “prefiero” or if we wanted to say “What do you prefer?” we would say “¿Qué prefieres?  Apart from this root-change which affects the present tense and the present subjunctive, all the other tenses of this verb are entirely standard.

If we want to say that we prefer one thing over another, as in “I prefer cream to cheese” or “I prefer Spain to England” we need the word “a” – “prefiero la nata al queso”;  “prefiero España a Inglaterra”.  Notice, incidentally, that when we talk about food items in general we use the article meaning “the” which is “la” (feminine) and “el” (masculine) and when the word “el” is preceded by the word “a” they merge together to form “al”.

There are quite a few derivations from “preferir” in the Spanish language, and one that immediately comes to mind is the word “preferente” which is used by the national train company RENFE.  When talking about transport in English we say “first class” or “business class” and “second class” or “economy class”, but on Spanish trains “first class” is called “preferente” while the rest of us hoi polloi travel in “turista”.  Either way, you get reserved seats and a far more comfortable journey than any I have had recently in the UK.

In actual fact “preferente” is an adjective which could be translated as “priority” and there are two other adjectives from the verb “preferir”, namely “preferido” and “preferible”.  “Preferido” basically means “preferred” and is another way of saying “favourite”.  “Mi programa de tele preferido es Gran Hermano” (My favourite television programme is Big Brother): if you believe that, you really don´t know me!  Let’s try this one: “Mi mascota preferida es el gato” (My favourite pet is the cat).  That´s more like it, and in the second example of course I have changed the ending to the feminine “a” to match the feminine word “mascota”.

To change adjectives into adverbs, in other words to change an English word like “preferable” into “preferably” we add the suffix “-mente” which is the equivalent of our “-ly”.  Therefore “preferably” in Spanish is “preferiblemente”.  Very similar in meaning is the adverb formed from “preferente” namely “preferentemente”.  There are other rules surrounding the formation of adverbs which I have talked about in other articles, but suffice it to say for now that if you see a word ending in “-mente” it is the equivalent of a “-ly” word in English.

Finally, we have the noun meaning “preference” which is “preferencia”.  If you don´t mind which cake you take from a plate, what kind of music is played in the car or what time a meeting should start, you can say “no tengo preferencia” (I don´t have any preference).


  1. Thank you for another enjoyable article. I do like the way you explain these verbs.
    Bueno, adelante y arriba, ¿no?


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