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“Leer” Conjugation: The Spanish Bookworm’s Must-Read Guide

Do you enjoy reading? Do you get excited about the prospect of visiting a library or bookshop? Then, this article is definitely for you. This time around, we’ll be focusing on the verb leer (to read). As usual, we’ll show you the most common leer conjugations for those who are just starting out and cover examples for more proficient Spanish users. We will also add some reading recommendations and interesting phrases.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get this story started!

What type of verb is leer?

Leer is regular from a morphological point of view, but not when it comes to pronunciation and spelling.

Does this sound too technical? Worry not, here comes the explanation. The trick with leer is that in some conjugations the “i” turns into the consonant “y” when we find it in between two vowels. This means that, although the model form of the gerund would naturally be “leiendo”, because of the “i” being sandwiched between two other vowels it turns into a “y” and we get “leyendo”. What a trip! We hope we have made that a bit clearer.

You can check out our article on the Spanish different tenses if you’re feeling extra curious and want to look at more conjugation examples for regular Spanish verbs.

Verbals of leer: infinitive, gerund and participle

Before we start our official reading lessons, let’s explore the verbals of leer. These are the infinitive, the gerund and the participle. Verbals actually work as nouns, adjectives and adverbs instead of verbs. This can make them a bit confusing at first, but we’re sure you’ll get the hang of them in no time.


Leer (to read)

  • Voy a leer una novela de ciencia ficción. (I’m going to read a science fiction novel.)


Leyendo (reading)

  • Estaba leyendo un artículo muy interesante sobre poesía. (I was reading a very interesting article on poetry.)


Leído (read)

  • Si hubiese leído mis apuntes, me hubiese ido mejor en el examen. (If I had read my notes, I would’ve done better in the exam.)

Leer conjugation for all levels

The children’s book: leer conjugation for beginners

The Spanish indicative mood is quite broad and has 10 tenses. The presente (present), pretérito imperfecto (imperfect preterite, a form of the past tense), pretérito perfecto (perfect preterite, another form of the past tense) and futuro (future) are the most common forms. They are also the easiest tenses to learn for the leer conjugation and, therefore, where we’ll start our reading lesson.

Subject Present Imperfect Preterite Perfect Preterite Future
Yo (I) leo leía leí leeré
Tu (You)
Vos (Latin America)


leías leíste leerás
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

lee leía leyó leerá
Nosotros (We) leemos leíamos leímos leeremos
Vosotros (You, plural)
Ustedes (Latin America)








Ellos (Them) leen leían leyeron leerán

Leer conjugation examples for beginners

  • Present: Yo leo al menos un libro por mes. (I read at least one book every month.)
  • Imperfect preterite: Siempre leíamos cuentos antes de dormir. (We used to read stories before going to bed.)
  • Perfect preterite: No leyó el cartel de pare y casi tuvo un accidente. (He/She didn’t read the stop sign and almost had an accident.)
  • Future: ¿Quién leerá en clase hoy? (Who’ll read in class today?)

The YA novel: leer conjugation for intermediate students

Congratulations! You’ve managed to get your primary school diploma, now onto the next step. Let’s take you to the next level by taking a peek at the compound tenses of the leer conjugation in the indicative mood.

When it comes to compound tenses in Spanish, the most important step is to know your haber conjugation. Compound tenses in Spanish consist of the relevant tense of the verb haber + the past participle of the verb in question (which carries the meaning). This means you’ll only use the participle of leer (leído) in this case.

In the table below, we’ll go over the pretérito perfecto (preterite perfect), pluscuamperfecto (pluperfect) and futuro compuesto (future perfect) indicative tenses for leer, but we recommend you read our article on the haber conjugation as well.

Subject Preterite Perfect Pluperfect Future Perfect
Yo (I) he leído había leído habré leído
Tu (You)
Vos (Latin America)
has leído habías leído habrás leído
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

ha leído había leído habrá leído
Nosotros (We) hemos leído habíamos leído habremos leído
Vosotros (You, plural)

Ustedes (Latin America)

habéis leído

han leído

habíais leído

habían leído

habréis leído

habrán leído

Ellos (Them) han leído habían leído habrán leído

Leer conjugation examples for intermediate level

  • Preterite perfect: Mis alumnos no han leído nada del capítulo que les puse de deberes. (My students haven’t read a word of the chapter they had for homework.)
  • Pluperfect: Había leído en algún lado que iba a haber una lluvia de meteoritos. (I had read somewhere that there would be a meteor shower.)
  • Future perfect: Para entonces, habré leído todos los libros de la biblioteca (By then, I will have read all the books in the library.)

The non-fiction book: leer conjugation for advanced learners

We finally made it to college! Are you ready to ace your finals? The subjunctive mood is definitely for avid Spanish readers. This Spanish mood can be temperamental at times: we use it to express doubts, emotions, desires, and the unknown. Here, we’ll be looking at its presente (present) and imperfecto (imperfect) and futuro (future) tenses.

Subject Present Imperfect Future
Yo (I) lea leyera o leyese leyere
Tu (You)

Vos (Latin America)

leas leyeras o leyeses leyeres
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

lea leyera o leyese leyere
Nosotros (We) leamos leyéramos o leyésemos leyéremos
Vosotros (You, plural)

Ustedes (Latin America)



leyerais o leyeseis

leyeran o leyesen



Ellos (Them) lean leyeran o leyesen leyeren

Leer conjugation examples for advanced learners

  • Present: Cuando leas el libro, me avisas y lo comentamos. (Once you read the book, let me know and we can discuss it.)
  • Imperfect: Si leyeran toda la bibliografía, entenderían mejor el tema. (If you’d read the entire bibliography, you would understand the topic better.)
  • Future: Quien leyere esta oración, pensaría que estás loco. (Whoever read this sentence, would think you mad.)

The subjunctive future can prove tricky as it has no direct English translation, and it might be referring to another future or even the present. Moreover, it is not really used in speech nowadays, and you are more likely to come across it in literature or legal contexts. However, it is still good to know it exists and what it looks like, especially for avid readers.

Extra leer conjugation for bookworms: conditional tenses and imperative

If you are a passionate reader, we have some extra tenses of the leer conjugation for you. These are the condicional simple (simple conditional), the condicional compuesto (conditional perfect) and the imperativo (imperative).

Subject Simple Conditional Conditional Perfect Imperative
Yo (I) leería habría leído
Tu (You)

Vos (Latin America)

leerías habrías leído lee


Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

leería habría leído lea
Nosotros (We) leeríamos habríamos leído leamos
Vosotros (You, plural)

Ustedes (Latin America)



habríais leído

habrían leído



Ellos (Them) leerían habrían leído lean

Leer conjugation examples in the conditional tenses and the imperative

  • Simple conditional: ¿Me leerías el períodico? Es que no encuentro mis gafas. (Would you read me the newspaper? I just can’t find my glasses.)
  • Conditional perfect: ¿Habrías leído este libro si no fuese obligatorio? (Would you have read this book if it hadn’t been mandatory?)
  • Imperative: Lean la página 45, por favor. (Please read page 45.)

If you are still curious about conditional tenses, you should read this article.

Bonus: a fun fact about the imperative leer conjugation

Although we’ve added the imperative conjugation, there is an excellent quote by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges that says “el verbo leer, como el verbo amar y el verbo soñar, no soporta el modo imperativo” (“the verb to read, just like the verb to love and the verb to dream, doesn’t bear the imperative mode”). Borges was a firm believer that reading should be enjoyable and that no one should be forced to read a book that does not bring them joy.

Spanish reading suggestions

As we’ve covered the various forms of leer conjugation for different levels, we’ll leave you with some suggestions of popular books originally written in Spanish you can read for practice, depending on your skills and your preferences.

Books for children

Books for young adults

Books for adults

Moreover, you can find a lot of great reading tips and resources in the first section of our article on the Best Resources for learning Spanish.

Expressions with leer

We would like to end this reading lesson with some popular phrases and expressions that include the verb leer.

Leer entre líneas

This very popular phrase easily translates to “reading between the lines” and is used in the same way as its English counterpart. It’s definitely a useful one to have in your repertoire!

Leer sin entender no es leer

This expression literally translates into “reading without understanding is not reading”. The idea behind it is that reading implies comprehension and learning and that, if you don’t understand the text in front of you, you are not really getting any actual reading done.

Quien poco lee, poco aprende

This saying would translate into something like “those who don’t read much, don’t learn much.” Although we all know there are many ways one can learn, reading is easily one of the best ones. So read up and keep learning!

We hope this article about the leer conjugation helps you improve your Spanish reading skills. If you have any questions about Spanish conjugations in general, you can take a look at the overview of Spanish tenses we mentioned above.

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Learning the leer conjugation might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry, it comes naturally with practice.

Test your skills and see what you’ve learned from this article by playing a selection of sentences with forms of the verb leer.

Sign up here to save your progress and start getting fluent with thousands of Spanish sentences at Clozemaster.

Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in Spanish.

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