Spanish Present Subjunctive

Welcome to our grammar lesson about the Spanish Present Subjunctive (“Presente del Subjuntivo”)

We use the Present Subjunctive in some types of sentences that express subjectivity: desire, doubt, emotion…

A couple of sentences with verbs in Spanish Present Subjunctive
A couple of sentences with verbs in Present Subjunctive (the ones in green)

This lesson will teach you everything about the Present Subjunctive: how to conjugate verbs and how to use it, providing example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Conjugation of verbs in Present Subjunctive

Endings

The following table shows the endings we attach to verbs in Present Subjunctive.

These endings apply to both regular and irregular verbs:

 Verbs in -ARVerbs in -ER, -IR
yo-e-a
-es-as
él-e-a
nosotros-emos-amos
vosotros-éis-áis
ellos-en-an


Regular verbs

Here are some regular verbs in Present Subjunctive, with the endings we just learned:

 hablarcomervivir
yohablecomaviva
hablescomasvivas
élhablecomaviva
nosotroshablemoscomamosvivamos
vosotroshabléiscomáisviváis
elloshablencomanvivan


Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs in Present Subjunctive have the same endings as the regulars, but the stem has some irregularity.

But… which verbs are irregular?

The answer is easy: any verb that has an irregular “yo” form in Present Indicative (the “normal” Present) is irregular in Present Subjunctive.

Irregular verbs can be grouped into different types:


1) Verbs with any of the following irregularities in the Present Indicative “yo” form:

  • c becomes zc
  • letter g appears
  • letter y appears

… have that irregularity in Present Subjunctive for all persons:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
conocerconozcoconozca, conozcas, conozca, conozcamos, conozcáis, conozcan
traducirtraduzcotraduzca, traduzcas, traduzca, traduzcamos, traduzcáis, traduzcan
hacerhagohaga, hagas, haga, hagamos, hagáis, hagan
tenertengotenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tengáis, tengan
influirinfluyoinfluya, influyas, influya, influyamos, influyáis, influyan
intuirintuyointuya, intuyas, intuya, intuyamos, intuyáis, intuyan


2) Verbs ending in -AR / -ER where e becomes ie in the Present Indicative “yo” form, have that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive for all persons, except “nosotros” and “vosotros”:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
pensarpiensopiense, pienses, piense, pensemos, penséis, piensen
perderpierdopierda, pierdas, pierda, perdamos, perdáis, pierdan



3) Verbs ending in -IR where e becomes ie in the Present Indicative “yo” form, have that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive for all persons, except “nosotros” and “vosotros”, where e becomes i:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
preferirprefieroprefiera, prefieras, prefiera, prefiramos, prefiráis, prefieran
sentirsientosienta, sientas, sienta, sintamos, sintáis, sientan



4) Verbs where e becomes i in the Present Indicative “yo” form, have that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive, for all persons:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
pedirpidopida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan
repetirrepitorepita, repitas, repita, repitamos, repitáis, repitan



5) Verbs where o becomes ue in the Present Indicative “yo” form, have that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive, for all persons except “nosotros” and “vosotros”:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
contarcuentocuente, cuentes, cuente, contemos, contéis, cuenten
poderpuedopueda, puedas, pueda, podamos, podáis, puedan



6) An exception to case 5… For the verbs “dormir” and “morir”, o becomes u for “nosotros” and “vosotros”, and o becomes ue for the other persons:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
dormirduermoduerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis, duerman
morirmueromuera, mueras, muera, muramos, muráis, mueran



7) For the verb “jugar”, u becomes ue for all persons except “nosotros” and “vosotros”. Also, “g” becomes “gu” for all persons:

 Present Indicative yoPresent Subjunctive
jugarjuegojuegue, juegues, juegue, juguemos, juguéis, jueguen


8) Very irregular verbs

Finally, here are 7 very irregular verbs that don’t fit into any of the previous types:

darestarir

esté
vaya
des
estés
vayas

esté
vaya
demos
estemos
vayamos
deis
estéis
vayáis
den
estén
vayan

saberserver
sepaseavea
sepasseasveas
sepaseavea
sepamosseamosveamos
sepáisseáisveáis
sepanseanvean

haber
haya
hayas
haya
hayamos
hayáis
hayan


Spelling changes

Regardless of a verb being regular or irregular in Present Subjunctive, it may also have a spelling change at the end of its stem, for pronunciation reasons.

For example, take the verb “marcar”. That verb is fundamentally regular, but it still requires a change for all persons: the “c” must become “qu”, so that it maintains the “k” sound.

Here are some examples of spelling changes:

coger (g → j)coja, cojas, coja, cojamos, cojáis, cojan
marcar (c → qu)marque, marques, marque, marquemos, marquéis, marquen
pagar (g → gu)pague, pagues, pague, paguemos, paguéis, paguen
seguir (gu → g)siga, sigas, siga, sigamos, sigáis, sigan
utilizar (z → c)utilice, utilices, utilice, utilicemos, utilicéis, utilicen
vencer (c→ z)venza, venzas, venza, venzamos, venzáis, venzan

Uses of the Present Subjunctive

We use the Present Subjunctive in some sentences that express subjectivity: desire, doubt, emotion…

Here are the most frequent types of sentences where we use it:

a) After a verb that expresses wish or preference, such as:

  • querer
  • esperar
  • necesitar
  • desear
  • preferir
  • tener ganas de

… if that verb is in Present Tense and followed by “que”, then the next verb in the sentence is usually in Present Subjunctive:

Nosotros queremos que estudies más.
We want you to study more.

Espero que Miguel venga a mi cumpleaños.
I hope Miguel comes to my birthday.

Ellos prefieren que yo no diga nada.
They prefer that I say nothing.


b) After a verb that expresses a feeling or personal taste, such as:

  • gustar
  • interesar
  • sorprender
  • preocupar
  • molestar
  • dar miedo

if that verb is in Present Tense and followed by “que”, then the next verb in the sentence is usually in Present Subjunctive:

No me gusta que hables así.
I don’t like that you talk like that.

Nos da miedo que nos ataquen.
We are afraid of being attacked.


c) After a verb that expresses a plea, order or advice, such as:

  • pedir
  • rogar
  • ordenar
  • aconsejar
  • prohibir

… if that verb is in Present Tense and followed by “que”, then the next verb in the sentence is usually in Present Subjunctive:

Te aconsejo que lo investigues.
I advise you to research it.

Mis padres me prohiben que salga de noche.
My parents forbid me to go out at night.


d) After these expressions of disbelief or doubt:

  • no creer que (only when “no” is before “creer”)
  • no pensar que (only when “no” is before “pensar”)
  • dudar que

El director no cree que eso sea importante.
The director doesn’t think that’s important.

Dudo que compremos el coche.
I doubt we will buy the car.


e) In sentences where we wish something to someone starting directly with “que”, the next verb in the sentence is in Present Subjunctive:

¡Que tengas buen viaje!
Have a nice trip!

¡Que lo paséis bien!
You guys have a nice time!


f) After “ojalá” or “ojalá que”, when they express a wish that seems realistic to fulfill, the next verb in the sentence is in Present Subjunctive:

Ojalá ganemos el partido.
Hopefully we win the game.

Ojalá que ellos tomen la decisión correcta.
Hopefully they make the right decision.


g) After these phrases that express a degree of probability about something in the present or future:

  • posiblemente
  • probablemente
  • tal vez, quizás
  • puede que
  • es posible que
  • es probable que

the next verb in the sentence is usually in Present Subjunctive:

Quizás vayamos a Ecuador en verano.
Maybe we will go to Ecuador in the summer..

Es posible que ellos nos llamen.
They may call us.


h) After expressions that assess or value something with this structure: [es + adjective + que…], the next verb in the sentence is usually in Present Subjunctive:

Es bueno que vosotros digáis la verdad.
It is good that you guys tell the truth.

Es importante que sepamos la verdad.
It’s important for us to know the truth.


i) After “para que” and “a fin de que”, which express motivation:

Te regalo esta tele para que veas tu serie favorita.
I give you this TV so you can watch your favorite series.


j) When “cuando” introduces a future event that is expected to happen, that future event is in Present Subjunctive:

Llámame cuando llegues al hotel.
Call me when you get to the hotel.

Cuando terminéis el libro, lo comentaremos.
When you guys finish the book, we will discuss it.


k) When“hasta que” introduces a future event:

No pagaré el ordenador hasta que funcione.
I won’t pay for the computer until it works.


l) After “antes de que” and “después de que” referring to future events:

Los niños estudian antes de que sus amigos lleguen.
Children study before their friends arrive.

No pises el suelo después de que yo friegue.
Don’t step on the floor after I scrub.


m) After these expressions that introduce a necessary condition for something in the present or future: “siempre que, a condición de que, siempre y cuando”.

Puedes ir a la fiesta siempre que lleves ropa elegante.
You can go to the party as long as you wear elegant clothes.

Siempre y cuando seas amable, la gente te tratará bien.
As long as you are nice, people will treat you well.


n) After these expressions that introduce a hypothetical impediment that may cause something not to happen: “salvo que, a no ser que”.

Cocinaré carne, a no ser que seáis vegetarianos.
I will cook meat, unless you guys are vegetarian.


o) After these expressions, when they introduce a hypothetical obstacle to something that ends up happening anyway: “aunque, a pesar de que”.

Aunque no quieras, iremos a la playa.
Even if you don’t want to, we’ll go to the beach.


p) When “que, donde, quien” introduce the desired qualities of something or someone.

Busco un piso que tenga 3 habitaciones.
I am looking for an apartment that has 3 bedrooms.

Queremos vivir en una zona donde haya supermercados.
We want to live in an area where there are supermarkets.

Queremos una compañera de piso que no fume.
We want a flatmate who doesn’t smoke.


q) In some phrases like the English “whatever you want, as they want…”, which express uncertainty or leave a decision to another person:

Podemos ir al cine o al teatro, lo que sea.
We can go to the movies or the theater, whatever.

Lo que tú digas.
Whatever you say.

Como ellos quieran.
As they want.

Practice

Quiz

First, take this short Quiz about the Present Subjunctive:


Exercise 1

Conjugate the following verbs in Present Subjunctive for the given person.

We have included all types of regular and irregular verbs taught in this lesson:

1) yo ___ (trabajar)
2) tú ___ (comprender)
3) él ___ (pensar)
4) nosotros ___ (sentir)
5) vosotros ___ (repetir)
6) ellos ___ (contar)
7) yo ___ (dormir)
8)___ (jugar)
9) él ___ (conocer)
10) nosotros ___ (tener)
11) vosotros ___ (influir)
12) ellos ___ (ser)

Solutions:
1) trabaje
2) comprendas
3) piense
4) sintamos
5) repitáis
6) cuenten
7) duerma
8) juegues
9) conozca
10) tengamos
11) influyáis
12) sean


Exercise 2

In the following sentences, fill the gaps conjugating the verbs in brackets in Present Subjunctive:

Buscamos un profesor que ___ 1.(saber) francés y alemán.
We are looking for a teacher who knows French and German.

Antes de que tú me ___ 2.(preguntar), voy a contártelo todo.
Before you ask me, I’m going to tell you everything.

Cuando nosotros ___ 3.(hablar) bien español, haremos un viaje a Chile.
When we speak Spanish well, we will take a trip to Chile.

Es importante que vosotros ___ 4.(poner) los libros en la estantería correcta.
It is important that you guys put the books on the correct shelf.

¿Quieres que ___ 5.(llamar) o prefieres que ___ 6.(mandar) un mensaje?
Do you want me to call or do you prefer me to send a message?

No creo que ellos ___ 7.(comprender) el problema.
I don’t think they understand the problem.

Ojalá ___ 8.(hacer) cosas interesantes y ___ 9.(aprender) mucho.
Let’s hope you do interesting things and learn a lot.

Solutions:
1) sepa
2) preguntes
3) hablemos
4) pongáis
5) llame
6) mande
7) comprendan
8) hagas
9) aprendas

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