A.  EL SUBJUNTIVO. Expressing Subjective Actions or States. An introduction to the Present Subjunctive.

Let's take a look at the subjunctive!
Make sure you send me an e-mail  if there is something you don't understand.

I am sure most of you are wondering what the subjunctive is What is the subjunctive? First of all, you need to understand that the subjunctive is not a tense, it is a mood. In Spanish there are three moods: the indicative (that's the one you have been studying until now), the subjunctive and the imperative. The indicative mood is used to state facts, ask questions, express actions or states of being that are considered to be true by the speaker. The subjunctive mood is used to express more subjective or conceptualized actions or states. The imperative mood is the one used for the informal commands.

Even though you may not be familiar with the concept of subjunctive, it also exists in English, though in the spoken language it is rarely used. Here are some examples of the subjunctive in English:

            God bless you.

             I suggest you be there at ten.

             If I were a rich man...

  • The subjunctive is mostly used in complex sentences (those with more than one clause) in the subordinate or dependent clause. Both clauses (the main clause and the subordinate clause) require a conjugated verb. The clauses are often linked by the conjunction que, which in Spanish cannot be omitted.

  • The typical sentence structure of a complex sentence requiring the subjunctive is as follows:

            Main Clause (Indicative mood) + conjunction + Subordinate Clause (Subjunctive mood)

                          La profesora quiere que los alumnos estudien mucho.
                                            (indicative)                    (subjunctive)

  • The subjunctive is commonly used in complex sentences when the verb in the main clause is a verb that expresses influence, emotion, doubt or denial. Remember that the main clause verb will be in the indicative mood, but these verbs will trigger the use of the subjunctive in the subordinate clause. Examples of verbs which will trigger the subjunctive are querer, desear, esperar, dudar and negar. Look at the following sentences
                    Julio desea que Luisa hable espa

                          Los estudiantes esperan que el examen sea fácil.

                          Marta duda que sus amigos puedan ir a la fiesta.

   With verbs that express emotion and influence, there must be a different subject in each clause for the subordinate clause to be in the subjunctive mood. If the subject is the same, use the infinite for the second verb, and the conjunction que will not be used.


   Juan quiere ir al cine (no subject change)
   Juan wants to go the movies  
   Juan quiere que Beatriz vaya al cine con él.
   Juan wants Beatriz to go to the movies with him.                   


B.    Forms of the Subjunctive.

  • Though this constitutes your first real look at the subjunctive, you already learned some its forms when you  studied the formal commands. The formal commands use the third person present subjunctive forms of the verb.

  • To form the subjunctive, you will need to take the first person present indicative forms of the verb
    Infinitive            1st person prest. ind.
    trabajar                      trabajo
    hablar                         hablo
    cerrar                         cierro
    hacer                          hago
    Drop the -o. This gives you the stem for the present subjunctive. For the verbs listed above, you will be left with
    trabaj-,  habl-,  cierr-,  and hag-

    Because you are taking the first person present indicative form as your basis for the subjunctive, irregular yo-form verbs  and stem-changing verbs are going to have the same peculiarities in the present subjunctive. 


  • The endings for -ar verbs have an -e throughout the conjugation, -er and -ir  verbs have an -a throughout the conjugation.

               trabajar                                  correr                                    vivir
    e        trabajemos             corra    corramos                    viva    vivamos
    trabajes      trabajéis                 corras   corráis                        vivas   viváis
    trabaje        trabajen                 corra    corran                         viva    vivan

  • The same spelling changes you learned when studying the preterite tense apply here. Remember that these changes occur in order to retain the sounds of the infinitive and only affect -ar verbs that end in -car, -gar, and -zar.

  • Verbs with irregular yo forms show the irregularity in all forms of the present subjunctive.

  • -ar and -er stem-changing vebs follow the stem-changing pattern of the present indicative. The nosotros and vosotros forms do not show stem changes.

  • -ir stem-changing verbs show a stem change in the same forms that have a change  in the present indicative. In addition, they show a second stem change in the nosotros and vosotros forms (o changes to u, e changes to i).

  • A few verbs have irregular present subjunctive forms.

    dar:       dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den
    estar:     esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén
    haber:    haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan
    ir:          vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan
    saber:    sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan 
    ser:        sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

        Hay is an impersonal form of the verb haber. The subjunctive of hay is haya, and like hay, it does not change to the plural form before a plural noun.


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