Spanish Present Subjunctive – Conjugation and Uses of this Tense

Welcome to our grammar lesson about the Spanish Present Subjunctive.

The Present Subjunctive (“Presente del Subjuntivo”) is a verb tense in Spanish. It belongs to the Subjunctive Mood. We use in some types of sentences which express subjectivity: desire, doubt, emotion…

The Present Subjunctive is usually taught in intermediate/advanced level courses, after the student already has a good grasp of all Indicative tenses.

In this lesson we will learn all about the Spanish Present Subjunctive, both the conjugation of verbs, and the types of sentences where we use it, providing examples.

At the end you will find a find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

1. Conjugation of verbs in Present Subjunctive

Endings

The first thing we need to learn are the endings used for each person. Luckily, these endings apply to both Regular and Irregular Verbs.

The following table shows the endings used for verbs in “-AR”, and the endings for verbs in “-ER” and “-IR”:

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


Regular Verbs

Here are 3 regular verbs in Present Subjunctive, where we observe the endings we just learned:

 hablarcomervivir
yohablecomaviva
hablescomasvivas
élhablecomaviva
nosotroshablemoscomamosvivamos
vosotroshabléiscomáisviváis
elloshablencomanvivan

Irregular Verbs

For verbs that are irregular in Present Subjunctive, the endings are the same as for the regulars, but the stem presents some small change.

Identifying irregular verbs is easy: any verb with an irregular “yo” form in Present Indicative (the normal Present Tense you already know so well 🙂 ), is irregular in Present Subjunctive.

Depending on the type of verb, the irregularity will be different. Let’s see a list of all possible irregularities, with examples:

Types of Irregularities

1) Verbs ending in “-AR”, “-ER” where an “E” becomes “IE” for the person “yo” in Present Indicative, has that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive for all persons, except for “nosotros” and “vosotros”:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
pensarpiensopiense, pienses, piense, pensemos, penséis, piensen
perderpierdopierda, pierdas, pierda, perdamos, perdáis, pierdan



2) Verbs ending in “IR” where an “E” becomes “IE” for the person “yo” in Present Indicative, has that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive for all persons, except for “nosotros” and “vosotros”, where “E” becomes “I”:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
preferirprefieroprefiera, prefieras, prefiera, prefiramos, prefiráis, prefieran
sentirsientosienta, sientas, sienta, sintamos, sintáis, sientan



3) Verbs where an “E” that becomes “I” for the person “yo” in Present Indicative, has that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive, for all persons:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
pedirpidopida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan
repetirrepitorepita, repitas, repita, repitamos, repitáis, repitan



4) Verbs where an “O” becomes “UE” for the person “yo” in Present Indicative, has that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive, for all persons except for “nosotros” and “vosotros”:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
contarcuentocuente, cuentes, cuente, contemos, contéis, cuenten
poderpuedopueda, puedas, pueda, podamos, podáis, puedan



5) An exception to case 4), “Dormir” and “Morir”: apart from “O” becoming “UE” for the other persons, “O” becomes “U” for “nosotros” and “vosotros”:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
dormirduermoduerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis, duerman
morirmueromuera, mueras, muera, muramos, muráis, mueran



6) For the verb “Jugar”, the “U” becomes “UE” for all persons except “nosotros” and “vosotros”, and also the “G” becomes “GU”:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
jugarjuegojuegue, juegues, juegue, juguemos, juguéis, jueguen



7) Verbs where a “C” becomes “ZC” for the person “yo” in Present Indicative, present that same irregularity in Present Subjunctive, for all persons:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
conocerconozcoconozca, conozcas, conozca, conozcamos, conozcáis, conozcan
traducirtraduzcotraduzca, traduzcas, traduzca, traduzcamos, traduzcáis, traduzcan



8) Verbs whose “yo” form in Present Indicative ends in “GO”, form the Present Subjunctive with “GA”:

 "yo" form in Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive
hacerhagohaga, hagas, haga, hagamos, hais, hagan
tenertengotenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tenis, tengan



9) For verbs whose Infinitive ends in “UIR”, “I” becomes “Y” :

 "yo" form in Present Indicative"yo" form in Present Indicative
influirinfluyoinfluya, influyas, influya, influyamos, influyáis, influyan
intuirintuyointuya, intuyas, intuya, intuyamos, intuyáis, intuyan

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

Whether a verb is regular or irregular, it might also present spelling changes 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 keeps the “k” sound and maintains a consistent pronunciation.

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

2. Uses of the Present Subjunctive

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

Unfortunately, that idea is not enough to master its use, because the types of sentences where we use it are very specific. The Spanish student should learn each specific type of sentence where we use the Present Subjunctive.

Most times the Present Subjunctive appears in dependent clauses, usually after a relative pronoun such as “que”.

Here are the most frequent cases:

Sentence types where we use the Present Subjunctive

1) After verbs that express a wish or preference (“querer, esperar, necesitar, desear, preferir, tener ganas de…”), when they are in Present Tense and followed by the relative pronoun “que”…, then the next verb in the dependent clause is in Present Subjunctive:

Queremos que estudies más.
We want that you 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 don’t say anything.


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

Que tengas buen viaje.
Have a nice trip!

Que lo paséis bien.
You guys have fun!


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

Ojalá ganemos el partido.
Let’s hope we win the match.

Ojalá que ellos tomen la decisión correcta.
Let’s hope they make the right choice.


4) After verbs that express a feeling or personal taste (“gustar, interesar, sorprender, preocupar, molestar, dar miedo…”) when they are in Present Tense and followed by the relative pronoun “que”…, then the next verb is in Present Subjunctive:

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

Nos da miedo que nos ataquen.
We are scared that they might attack us.


5) After these phrases that express a degree of probability: “posiblemente, probablemente, tal vez, quizás, puede que, es posible que, es probable que”, the next verb can be in Present Subjunctive:

Quizás vayamos a Ecuador en verano.
Maybe we’ll go to Ecuador in the Summer.

Es posible que Juan y Pablo nos llamen.
It’s possible that Juan and Pablo call us.


6) After these expressions that express disbelief or doubt: “No creer que, no pensar que, dudar que”, when they are in Present Tense, then the next verb is in Present Subjunctive:

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

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


7) After expressions that assess or value something, using this structure: es + adjective + que…

Es bueno que vosotros digáis la verdad.
It’s good for you guys to tell the truth.

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


8) After verbs in Present Tense that express a plea, an order or an advice (“pedir, rogar, ordenar, aconsejar, prohibir…”) when they are in Present Tense and followed by the relative pronoun “que”…, then the next verb is in Present Subjunctive:

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

Mis padres me prohiben que salga de noche.
My parent’s prohibit that I go out at night.


9) 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 that you can watch your favorite series.


10) After “cuando…”, only when it 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 arrive at the hotel.

Cuando terminéis el libro, lo comentaremos.
When you guys finish the book, we’ll talk about it.


11) After “hasta que…”, when it introduces a future event:

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


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

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

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


13) After these expressions that point to a necessary condition: “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.


14) After these expressions that point to an hypothetical impediment that can 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.


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

Aunque no quieras, iremos a ver a mi madre.
Even if you don’t want, we’ll go see my mother.


16) After the relative pronouns “que, donde, quien…”, indicating the desired qualities of something or someone.

Busco un piso que tenga 3 habitaciones.
I’m looking for a flat that has 3 rooms.

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 that doesn’t smoke.


17) In this type of phrases that express uncertainty or leave a decision to another person, that in English tend to include words like “whatever”, “however”…:

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

Lo que tú digas.
Whatever you say.

Como ellos quieran.
However they want.

3. Practice the Spanish Present Subjunctive

Quiz

First, take this short Quiz about the Spanish Present Subjunctive:

Exercise

In the next sentences, fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using the Present Subjunctive, then check the solutions below:

Buscamos un profesor que ______ 1.(saber) francés y alemán.
Antes que tú me ______ 2.(preguntar), voy a contártelo todo.
Cuando nosotros ______ 3.(hablar) bien español, haremos un viaje a Chile.
Es importante que vosotros ______ 4.(poner) los libros en la estantería adecuada.
¿Quieres que te ______ 5.(besar, yo) o prefieres que te ______ 6.(abrazar, yo).
No creo que ellos ______ 7.(comprender) el problema.
Ojalá _____ 8.(hacer, tú) cosas muy interesantes y ______ 9.(aprender, tú) mucho.

Solutions: 1 = sepa, 2 = preguntes, 3 = hablemos, 4 = pongáis, 5 = bese, 6 = abrace, 7 = comprendan, 8 = hagas, 9 = aprendas