To return is regresar. I have heard that when there is a stress on e, it caves in and it turns into ie. For instance querer become quiero because at present tense the penultimate syllable is stressed and it should have been quero but the e part caves in.

Why doesn't this happen in the case of regresar. You would think it should have become regrieso but it is in fact regreso. Can anyone explain why?

  • What? This is not a rule, that's just how it's conjugated.
    – Schwale
    May 4 '16 at 2:00
  • 1
    This is what is taught by Michel Thomas, the famous language instructor. At any rate, I am sure there must rules of thumb on when to use e and when to use ie when constructing the present tense from roots. May 4 '16 at 2:26
  • There are many other exceptions to the rule: esperar -> espero, or depender -> dependo, for instance. But it is true that it happens most of the times.
    – Gorpik
    May 4 '16 at 6:12
  • I'd say the general rule is maintaining the e as in temer > temo. Here is a list of 2nd conjugation verbs that undergo e > ie stem change. As for Mr. Thomas (whom I don't know), I guess he favors speed over accuracy.
    – guillem
    May 4 '16 at 7:14
  • I can no longer edit my former comment. The mentioned list is for verbs of any conjugation.
    – guillem
    May 4 '16 at 7:22

The e → ie change is something that happens with what in Latin was a short e (same for o->ue and short o). Long e doesn't change.

It's not a hard and fast rule, however. Spanish tended to regularize more such words than, say, Asturian or Mirandese, which also underwent similar changes. So even though we might expect -gresar verbs to change because in Latin that e was short, for some reason, they don't (and in fact, they don't in Mirandese or Asturian either – so perhaps something happened in late Iberian Latin to explain it, but I'm not a Latinist)

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