Contar Conjugation 101: Conjugate Contar in Spanish


Contar is one of the most common stem-changing verbs in Spanish. For that reason, in this guide, you’ll learn the most important conjugations for contar and some of its basic uses. 

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll learn:

Take Note: There are many tenses in Spanish. However, we don’t use them all. Many are simply old and outdated. As a result, in this guide, you’ll only learn the tenses you need to know to become fluent in Spanish.

Overview of Contar

Verb CharacteristicProperty
Verb Type-AR
IrregularNo
InfinitiveContar
Gerund (Present Participle) FormContando
Past Participle FormContado
SynonymsDecir, relatar, numerar

Stem Changes: O to UE

  • Present: cuent (except ‘nosotros’ and ‘vosotros’)
  • Present Subjunctive: cuent
  • Affirmative Imperative: cuent (except ‘vosotros’)
  • Negative Imperative: cuent

Take Note: Notice that when referring to numbers or amounts, contar means ‘to count’. For simplicity and so that this isn’t overly repetitive, each of the tenses will only show translations with the meaning of ‘to tell’.

Indicative Conjugations of Contar

Present tense

The present tense of contar has stem changes. In other words, ‘contar’ is a stem-changing verb for all pronouns, except ‘nosotros’ and ‘ustedes’. As a result, most subject pronouns follow a O to UE change.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCuentoI tell
CuentasYou tell
Él / Ella
Usted
CuentaHe/She tells
You (formal) tell
NosotrosContamosWe tell
VosotrosContáisYou tell
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
CuentanThey/You tell
You (plural) tell

Preterite tense

All the preterite forms of ‘contar’ are regular. The Spanish preterite expresses that you told or counted something at a specific moment in the past. For example: le conté a Daniela.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoContéI told
ContasteYou told
Él / Ella
Usted
ContóHe/She told
You (formal) told
NosotrosContamosWe told
VosotrosContasteisYou told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
ContaronThey told
You (plural) told

Imperfect tense

 The Spanish imperfect tense is used to talk about things you used to tell or count repeatedly in the past. For example, yo contaba muchos chistes. The imperfect conjugation of ‘contar’ is regular and can be translated as ‘used to tell’ or ‘told’.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoContabaI told / I used to tell
ContabasYou told / You used to tell
Él / Ella
Usted
ContabaHe/She told / He/She used to tell
You told / You used to tell
NosotrosContábamosWe told / We used to tell
VosotrosContabaisYou told / You used to tell
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
ContabanThey told / You told
They used to tell / You used to tell

Near future

 The near future in Spanish is used to talk about things you’ll tell or count in the immediate future. This tense is formed with ir (present) + a + contar and can be translated as “going to tell”.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoVoy a contarI’m going to tell
Vas a contarYou’re going to tell
Él / Ella
Usted
Va a contarHe/She is going to tell
You (formal) are going to tell
NosotrosVamos a contarWe’re going to tell
VosotrosVais a contarYou’re going to tell
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Van a contarThey’re going to tell
You (plural) are going to tell

Future simple tense

The simple future allows you to express that you will tell or count something at some point in the future. For example, algún día te contaré cómo conocí a tu papá.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoContaréI will tell
ContarásYou will tell
Él / Ella
Usted
ContaráHe/She will tell
You (formal) will tell
NosotrosContaremosWe will tell
VosotrosContaréisYou will tell
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
ContaránThey will tell
You (plural) will tell

Conditional tense

 The conditional form of ‘contar’ conveys that someone would tell or count something if certain circumstances are met. For example: te contaría, pero no tengo tiempo. This tense is conjugated by adding the conditional endings to ‘contar’.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoContaríaI would tell
ContaríasYou would tell
Él / Ella
Usted
ContaríaHe/She would tell
You (formal) would tell
NosotrosContaríamosWe would tell
VosotrosContaríaisYou would tell
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
ContaríanThey would tell
You (plural) would tell

Present perfect tense

‘Contar’ in the present perfect tense expresses that you told or counted something in a moment close to the present. The formula to conjugate the present perfect tense in Spanish is haber (present tense) + contado.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoHe contadoI have told
Has contadoYou have told
Él / Ella
Usted
Ha contadoHe/She has told
You (formal) have told
NosotrosHemos contadoWe have told
VosotrosHabéis contadoYou have told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Han contadoThey have told
You (plural) have told

Past perfect

To conjugate to the past perfect tense, you need to use the imperfect form of haber + contado, which is the past participle form of ‘contar’. The past perfect of ‘contar’ expresses that you told or counted something before some other reference point in the past. Cuando llegué, Sandra ya te había contado.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoHabía contadoI had told
Habías contadoYou had told
Él / Ella
Usted
Había contadoHe/She had told
You (formal) had told
NosotrosHabíamos contadoWe had told
VosotrosHabíais contadoYou had told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Habían contadoThey had told
You (plural) had told

Future perfect

The future perfect of ‘contar’ is built by conjugating haber to the future tense and adding contar’s past participle (contado). This verb in the future perfect tense communicates you will count or tell something by or before a certain time in the future.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoHabré contadoI will have told
Habrás contadoYou will have told
Él / Ella
Usted
Habrá contadoHe/She will have told
You (formal) will have told
NosotrosHabremos contadoWe will have told
VosotrosHabréis contadoYou will have told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Habrán contadoThey will have told
You (plural) will have told

Conditional perfect

‘Contar’ conjugated to the conditional perfect is used to talk about things you would have told someone if a past condition was met. For example: si hubiera sabido, te habría contado. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoHabría contadoI would have told
Habrías contadoYou would have told
Él / Ella
Usted
Habría contadoHe/She would have told
You (formal) would have told
NosotrosHabríamos contadoWe would have told
VosotrosHabríais contadoYou would have told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Habrían contadoThey would have told
You (plural) would have told

Progressive tenses

The progressive tenses in Spanish refer to actions that are in progress at the moment of speaking. Using ‘contar’, it expresses that someone is telling something right now. The structure to form these tenses is estar (conjugated) + gerund form of contar (contando).

Progressive TenseFormulaTranslation Example
PresentEstar (present) + contandoI am telling
PreteriteEstar (preterite) + contandoYou were telling
ImperfectEstar (imperfect) + contandoHe was telling
FutureEstar (future) + contandoWe will be telling
ConditionalEstar (conditional) + contandoThey would be telling

Contar Subjunctive Conjugations

The Spanish subjunctive mood is used to talk about wishes, hypothetical actions or express uncertainty.

Present subjunctive

In the present subjunctive, contar is also a stem-changing verb. With the exception of ‘nosotros’ and ‘vosotros’, all the present subjunctive forms have an O to UE change. The present subjunctive of ‘contar’ is used to talk about the expectation or possibility of someone telling you something. For example: ojalá Juan nos cuente qué pasó.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCuenteI tell
CuentesYou tell
Él / Ella
Usted
CuenteHe/She tells
You (formal) tell
NosotrosContemosWe tell
VosotrosContéisYou tell
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
CuentenThey tell
You (plural) tell

Present perfect subjunctive

Haber in the present subjunctive + contado is the structure you should use to build the present perfect subjunctive form of ‘contar’. The present perfect subjunctive of ‘contar’ is used to talk about wishes and probabilities. For example, ¿crees que le hayan contado?

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoHaya contadoI have told
Hayas contadoYou have told
Él / Ella
Usted
Haya contadoHe/She has told
You (formal) have told
NosotrosHayamos contadoWe have told
VosotrosHayáis contadoYou have told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Hayan contadoThey have told
You (plural) have told

Imperfect subjunctive

We use the imperfect subjunctive of ‘contar’ to talk about what would happen if we told something to someone. This tense expresses wishes or hypothetical situations that are difficult to accomplish. Juan se enojaría conmigo si le contara lo que hice. 

The imperfect subjunctive has two conjugation models depending on which type of Spanish you’re using:

Latin American Spanish version

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoContaraI told
ContarasYou told
Él / Ella
Usted
ContaraHe/She told
You (formal) told
NosotrosContáramosWe told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
ContaranThey told
You (plural) told

Note: The table above doesn’t include the conjugation for vosotros because this pronoun is not used in Latin American Spanish.

Castilian Spanish version

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoContaseI told
ContasesYou told
Él / Ella
Usted
ContaseHe/She told
You (formal) told
NosotrosContásemosWe told
VosotrosContaseisYou told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
ContasenThey told
You (plural) told

Past perfect subjunctive

The past perfect subjunctive of ‘contar’ can be used to talk about what would have happened if you had told something to someone. These are hypothetical situations that can no longer happen because their time has passed. For example si le hubiera contado…(If I had told him).

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoHubiera contadoI had told
Hubieras contadoYou had told
Él / Ella
Usted
Hubiera contadoHe/She had told
You (formal) had told
NosotrosHubiéramos contadoWe had told
VosotrosHubierais contadoYou had told
Ellos / Ellas
Ustedes
Hubieran contadoThey had told
You (plural) had told

Contar Imperative Conjugations

The Spanish imperative is used to tell people what to do (affirmative commands) or what not to do (negative commands).

Affirmative commands

‘Contar’ affirmative commands have a stem-changing form for ‘tú’, ‘usted’ and ‘ustedes’. Like the present indicative and subjunctive, these pronouns have a change from O to UE. The affirmative imperative of contar allows you to order or ask someone to tell you something. Cuéntame qué pasó.

PersonConjugationTranslation
CuentaTell
UstedCuenteTell
VosotrosContadTell
UstedesCuentenTell

Negative commands

Since the Spanish negative imperative is based on the present subjunctive, contar is a stem-changing verb for all subjects except ‘vosotros’. The negative imperative of contar is used to command people to not tell something to someone. For instance: no le cuentes a Jorge.

PersonConjugationTranslation
No cuentesDon’t tell
UstedNo cuenteDon’t tell
VosotrosNo contéisDon’t tell
UstedesNo cuentenDon’t tell

Meanings of Contar & Examples

Now that you’ve seen all the conjugation charts of contar, you should learn its meanings as well as how and when to use this verb. 

  • Expressing that someone is telling something

[Indirect object pronoun] + [‘contar’ conjugated]

¿Por qué le has contado?
Why have you told him?

Roció contaba muy buenos chistes.
Rocío used to tell very good jokes.

  • Talking about counting things or numbers

Muchachos, cuenten bien su dinero.
Guys, count your money well.

El niño cuenta hasta diez.
The kid counts to ten.

  • Expressing that something is valid or invalid 

Ojalá las tareas contaran menos.
I wish homework counted less.

El gol no contó porque estabas fuera de lugar.
The goal didn’t count because you were offside.

Download Contar Conjugation Tables & Uses Cheat sheets

I’ve created a PDF for you to download containing all Contar’s conjugation tables, verb characteristics, and uses so you can study it at your own pace!

Practice Quiz: Contar Conjugation

Take our ‘contar’ conjugation quiz to test your skills and practice this stem-changing verb in all its tenses. You can customize your quiz based on mood, your Spanish level, and more.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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