On a recent trip to Mexico I had the chance to use my Spanish (oh I’m quite the Renaissance man) and found that what I lose first is my ability to quickly say “he did X” or “they do Y”. Worse is my need to reverse-engineer what I’m hearing back to an infinitive. If someone says “Ellos me hablaban”, I decipher it like: “hablaban, ok, that is the third person plural for hablaba, which is hablar, which means to speak, so it’s they were speaking.” That probably explains the glassy look in my eyes as I listen to native speakers.
Once home I searched for a database of conjugated verbs to make flash cards that, rather than working with infinitives, would read simple actions like “They walk”, “He used to sing” or “We would have spoken” and the reverse would have the proper Spanish conjugation. Despite my uber Google skills, I was unable to find any non-commercial products. However, I did come across one great resource that had the data I needed.
Fred Jehle, formerly a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, published approximately 600 verbs, fully conjugated in all moods and tenses, on his website in 1998. The resource helped students improve their verb use in addition to a variety of notes on other aspects of the language. I contacted Mr. Jehle to inquire if a database of his verbs were behind the scenes but unfortunately only the static web pages exist.
Out of curiosity, I opened up a couple of pages to see what the source HTML looked like and, luckily, it was pretty uniform. I broke out my editor and wrote a script to read in each page, parse out the various conjugations and dump them in to a (PostgreSQL 9.x) database. The roughly 600 verbs converted to 11,467 combinations of moods + tenses.
In coordination with copyright holder Professor Jehle, this data is available free of charge via a Creative Commons license for anyone to use for non-commercial purposes so long as you provide attribution. If you alter, transform or build upon this work then you may distribute the resulting work only under the same license.
My thanks go to Mr. Jehle for quickly answering my questions and allowing me to publish the data for other would-be Spanish students. I recommend that you also check out his website for additional Spanish content at http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/VERBLIST.HTM.