Give boot verbs the boot! | Why I quit teaching Spanish “boot verbs” and why you should, too!

I get it.  Conjugation is TOUGH!

And teachers will do ANYTHING to help their students grasp this concept as quickly and painlessly as possible.

But “boot verbs”?  Get ready to give them the boot!

Not familiar with “boot verbs”?  Below is an example.

conjugate boot

Any stem-change verb can be conjugated as a “boot verb.”  In the example above, all of the stem-change conjugations fit into the “boot” (yellow space).

Pro:  easy to see the regular conjugations vs. stem-change conjugations

Con:  unless you teach vosotros (and most schools don’t) there’s only ONE verb outside the boot.

Also, if your students are like mine, they wind up orally conjugating like this:  “cierro, cierras, cierra, cerramos, squiggle, cierran.”

Wait!  Squiggle???  UGH!

In my five years of teaching Spanish at the university, *maybe* 10% have said they prefer to conjugate stem-change verbs in a “boot.”  In my ten years of teaching high school Spanish, the percentage of high schoolers who prefer boots verbs has been far fewer.

Another con:  No room for translation.  In my opinion, there is no benefit to students knowing how to conjugate a verb in Spanish if they don’t know what it means!

My suggestion?  Five in a line every time.


In the example above, the infinitive is listed at the top.  On the right side, there is room to DEFINE it.  Below the infinitive in the left column, we have our “5 in a line” verb conjugations.  To the right, their definitions.

Another benefit of five in a line?  Pronouns!


Leave some room and have students pencil in the corresponding pronouns.  This format also leaves room for students to write in the pronouns Usted (Ud.) and Ustedes (Uds.) and define their conjugations.

A better strategy to help students remember NOT to stem-change the nosotros form of a verb?

Nosotros no change-o.

Download a FREE verb conjugation worksheet “Five in a Line & Define” from my Teachers Pay Teachers store now!

So is there ANY benefit to having students conjugate verbs in a 3 x 2 table, rather than five in a line?  Maybe (but I will talk about that in a future post).



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