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Subjunctive - Part I



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation
One of the most complicated topics of the Spanish grammar for non-native speakers is the Subjunctive mood. As a general rule, the Subjunctive is used to describe unreal or potential events, unlike the Indicative mood which it is used to describe real facts.

The Subjunctive is composed of simple and perfect tenses, but unlike the Indicative, there are only three simple tenses and three perfect tenses.

 

Indicative

Subjunctive

  Simple TensesPerfect TensesSimple TensesPerfect Tenses
Present PresentePretérito Perfecto CompuestoPresentePretérito Perfecto Compuesto
Past Pretérito ImperfectoPretérito PluscuamperfectoPretérito ImperfectoPretérito Pluscuamperfecto
  Pretérito Indefinido o Perfecto SimplePretérito Anterior - -
Future Futuro SimpleFuturo CompuestoFuturo ImperfectoFuturo Perfecto
Conditional Condicional SimpleCondicional Compuesto - -


Conjugation

The following chart shows the conjugation of the simple tenses for regular verbs. Notice that the Present Subjunctive has a featured vowel that is the same for each group of verbs.


Verbs ending in -ARVerbs ending in -ERVerbs ending in -IR
Featured vowel: EFeatured vowel: AFeatured vowel: A


 SUBJUNCTIVE – SIMPLE TENSES CONJUGATION
 CANTAR BEBER VIVIR
PRESENTE yocant-ebeb-aviv-a
  cant-esbeb-asviv-as
  él/ella/ustedcant-ebeb-aviv-a
  nosotroscant-emosbeb-amosviv-amos
  vosotroscant-éisbeb-áisviv-áis
  ellos/ellas/ustedescant-enbeb-anviv-an
PRETERITO IMPERFECTO yocant-ara o cant-asebeb-iera o beb-ieseviv-iera o viv-iese
  cant-aras o cant-asesbeb-ieras o beb-iesesviv-ieras o viv-ieses
  él/ella/ustedcant-ara o cant-asebeb-iera o beb-ieseviv-iera o viv-iese
  nosotroscant-áramos o cant-ásemosbeb-iéramos o beb-iésemosviv-iéramos o viv-iésemos
  vosotroscant-arais o cant-aseisbeb-ierais o beb-ieseisviv-ierais o viv-ieseis
  ellos/ellas/ustedescant-aran o cant-asenbeb-ieran o beb-iesenviv-ieran o viv-iesen
FUTURO IMPERFECTO yocant-arebeb-iereviv-iere
  cant-aresbeb-ieresviv-ieres
  él/ella/ustedcant-arebeb-iereviv-iere
  nosotroscant-áremosbeb-iéremosviv-iéremos
  vosotroscant-areisbeb-iereisviv-iereis
  ellos/ellas/ustedescant-arenbeb-ierenviv-ieren


Uses of the Subjunctive

1.- To express wishes or hopes

Espero que te recuperes pronto.
I hope you get better soon.

Ojalá estuvieras aquí.
I wish you were here.

2.- To express requests, suggestions, advice, or intentions

El profesor nos ha pedido que hagamos los deberes de la lección 5.
The teacher has asked us that we do lesson 5 for homework.

Te aconsejo que no camines sola por la noche en esta ciudad.
I advise you not to walk by yourself at night in this city.

3.- To express emotions or feelings

Me alegro de que a tu hermano le vaya todo bien en Irlanda.
I'm glad that everything is going well with your brother in Ireland.

A mis padres les gustó mucho que vinieras a casa a comer.
My parents were very pleased that you came over for lunch.

4.- To express uncertainties, necessity, or hypothesis

Es posible que suspenda el examen.
It is possible that I’ll fail the test.

Es necesario que compres huevos si quieres hacer un pastel.
It is necessary that you buy eggs if you want to make a cake.

5.- To express the future outcome of a present event.

He comprado este teclado para que puedas teclear más fácilmente.
I have bought this keyboard so you can type easily.

Es mejor que nos quedemos en casa este fin de semana.
It's better that we stay in this weekend.

6.- To express that a decision depends on another person and to express commands*.

Llámame cuando tengas un momento.
Call me when you get a chance.

¡Cuidado! No pises ahí.
Watch out! Don't step there.

* In Spanish, even though there might be some situations where the Subjunctive can be used to express commands, it is NOT the mood we use to express commands. The Imperative mood is the correct mood to express commands.