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I've heard that "jugar" is the only 'u'-to-'ue' stem-changing verb. Is this true?

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Yes.

All stem changing verbs fall into one of three categories (e→ie(→i), e→i(→i), o→ue(→u), where -ir verbs do the second change). There are exactly nine exceptions in three special categories:

  • i→ie→i
    adquirir, perquirir, inquirir, preadquirir
  • e→ie→e
    cernir, concernir, decernir, discernir
  • u→ue
    jugar

The reason for jugar being a special case is that it was originally jogar (and thus o→ue) but for some reason as the vowel shifted the stem change remained.

| improve this answer | |
  • Nunca había oído decernir, que veo que es lo mismo (pero en desuso) que discernir. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' May 7 '19 at 12:20
  • @fedorqui yo tampoco hasta hace poco :-) – user0721090601 May 7 '19 at 12:21
  • El verbo "soldar" aplica tambien? – gustavovelascoh May 7 '19 at 13:04
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    @gustavovelascoh soldar es un verbo típico de alternancia o→ue, no hay nada excepcional en su conjugación. – user0721090601 May 7 '19 at 13:08
  • This would make a good canonical answer -- you gave a complete run-down. I'll ask a general question -- would you mind repeating this answer there? If there's anything to add to make it complete, please do. – aparente001 May 8 '19 at 7:20

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