The Present Subjunctive

Uses:

In Spanish, the Present Subjunctive is used in 11 main instances:

1. To express desire: desear que, preferir que, querer que.
For example: “quiero que hagas tus deberes.”


2. To express hope: esperar que, ojalá.
For example: "espero que vayas a la fiesta"


3. To express fear: temer que, tener miedo que.
For example: "temo que no
hablen inglés"


4. To express an emotion that an action provokes: estar contento/triste que, gustar que.
For example: “me gusta que
coman comida picante"
 

5. To express doubt: dudar que, no creer que, no imaginarse que, negar que, no parecer que, no pensar que, no suponer que.
For example: “no creo que
sea divertido.”
 

6. For negative expressions with verbs that indicate speech: no decir que.
For example: “no digo que
sea fácil.”

7. To express possibility: es posible que, no es posible que, es imposible que.

For example: "es posible que ya sepan la verdad."

8. To express requests and influence: exigir que, insistir en que, pedir que, sugerir que.

For example: "exigo que hagas tus deberes"

9. After impersonal expressions (usually with es): es aconsejable que, es importante que, es primordial que, etc.:

For example: "es importante que estudies mucho."

10. To express a formal imperative (usted/ustedes) and to express a negative imperative in the tú form.

For example: ¡no me digas!"

11. With specific words and phrases: acaso, a menos que, antes de que, aunque*, como si, en el caso de que, hasta que, mientras que, para que, quizás, sin que, tal vez.

For example: “debes hacer tus deberes para que aprendas.”


 

*Notebook: Aunque can be used in the Indicative as well as the Subjunctive.
**Notebook: The subject must change for the Subjunctive to be used. 

Formation: Regular verbs

The formation of regular verbs in Spanish is fairly simple. In their infinitive form, verbs end in either: -ar, -er or –ir.

To form the Present Subjunctive for regular verbs in Spanish, we remove the -ar, -er or –ir ending of the verb to obtain the stem.

For example: hablar - ar = habl

Then the correct Present Subjunctive ending must be added to the stem in order to indicate who/what is doing/does the action. 

For example: the stem of hablar = habl, the ending for I is "e", the conjugated verb becomes "hable".

*Notebook: note how the ar, er/ir endings in the Present Tense have basically swapped in the Present Subjunctive.

The endings for each person are as follows:

Here is an example of each type of regular verb:

Irregulars: Stem-changing verbs

In the Present Subjunctive, the irregular verbs take the stem from their yo form in the Present Tense and add the subjunctive endings.

For example:

Present Tense → Present Subjunctive:

  • (yo) tengo  →  (yo) tenga, (tú) tengas, (él) tenga, etc.

  • (yo) hago  →  (yo) haga, (tú) hagas, (él) haga, etc

  • (yo) juego  →  (yo) juega, (tú) juegas, (él) juega, etc

Below is a list of common verbs with an irregular stem in the Present Subjunctive:

1. Very important verbs:

  • comenzar → comienc

  • empezar → empiec

  • hacer → hag

  • jugar → jueg

  • pensar → piens

  • poder → pued

  • preferir → prefier

  • querer → quier

  • sentir → sient

  • tener → teng

  • volver → vuelv

2. Important verbs:

  • ccordarse → (me) acuerd

  • cerrar → cierr

  • concluir → concluy

  • confesar → confies

  • confiar → confí

  • contar → cuent

  • defender → defiend

  • despertarse → (me) despiert

  • doler → duel

  • dormir → duerm

  • encontrar → encuentr

  • entender → entiend

  • enviar → enví

  • morir → uer

  • mostrar → muestr

  • mover → muev

  • negar → nieg

  • perder → pierd

  • recomendar → recomiend

  • recordar → recuerd

  • sentarse → (me) sient

  • soñar → sueñ

  • sugerir → sugier

  • vestirse → (me) vist

  • volar → vuel

3. Less important verbs:

  • acentuar → acentú

  • actuar → actú

  • adquirir → adquier

  • almorzar → almuerc

  • ampliar → amplí

  • aprobar → aprueb

  • atravesar → atravies

  • atribuir → atribuy

  • calentar → calient

  • conservar → consirv

  • constituir → constituy

  • construir → construy

  • continuar → continú

  • corregir → corrig

  • criar → crí

  • destruir → destruy

  • disminuir → disminuy

  • distribuir → distrubuy

  • divertirse → (me) diviert

  • elegir → elij

  • espiar → espí

  • excluir → excluy

  • fluir → fluy

  • gobernar → gobiern

  • graduar → gradú

  • huir → huy

  • incluir → incluy

  • influir → influy

  • inquirir → inquier

  • instituir → instituy

  • llover → lluev

  • mentir → mient

  • nevar → niev

  • obstruir → obstruy

  • reír → rí

  • repetir → repit

  • rogar → rueg

  • servir → sirv

  • situar → sitú

  • soler → suel

  • sonar → suen

  • sustituir → sustituy

  • valuar → valú

  • variar → varí

In addition to these verbs with irregular stems, 6 verbs have an entirely different form in the Present Subjunctive:

  • Dar

  • Estar

  • Haber

  • Ir

  • Saber

  • Ser

Here are tables showing their Present Subjunctive forms:

Click here to continue to exercises on the Present Subjunctive

Published: 18/04/2016