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Grammar Tip | The Present Subjunctive in Spanish

Spanish Grammar Tip

The Spanish Present Subjunctive

El presente de subjuntivo (Spanish present subjunctive) can be better defined as a grammatical mood rather than a proper tense and is used in Spanish to express personal opinions, unreal or hypothetical wishes, doubts, commands or feelings in the present or the future. For this, it is often used in clauses that depend on the verb in the main clause.

To form the present subjunctive, take the first person singular (yo) of the present tense, remove the final -o and add the following endings:

-AR -ER/-IR
YO (I) -e -a
TÚ (you) -es -as
ÉL/ELLA (he/she) -e -a
NOSOTROS/AS (we) -emos -amos
VOSOTROS/AS (you lot) -éis -áis
ELLOS/ELLAS (they) -en -an

 

Following this rule, those verbs with an irregular present tense will feature the same irregularity throughout the present subjunctive. Here are some examples:

tener (to have) → tengo = tenga        hacer (to do/make) → hago = haga

traducir (to translate) → traduzco = traduzca        decir (to say) → digo = diga

The same occurs with verbs with diptongación (e>ei, o>ue, i>ie, u>ue). However, the verbal forms of the first and second person plural, that is nosotros and vosotros, do not suffer any change, as seen in the regular present tense.

cerrar (to close) → cierro = cierre // cerramos = cerremos

encontrar (to meet/find) → encuentro = encuentre // encontráis = encontréis

Nonetheless, there are some verbs to which the rule above does not apply, such as:

INFINITIVO PRESENTE de INDICATIVO PRESENTE DE SUBJUNTIVO
dar (to give) doy
estar (to be) estoy esté
haber (to have) he haya
ir (to go) voy vaya
saber (to know) sepa
ser (to be) soy sea

 

The present subjunctive is used after the word cuando (when) when talking about the future.

Cuando vaya a Roma, comeré muchos helados. → When I go to Rome, I’ll eat lots of ice cream.

Other similar expressions which require the present subjunctive are:

antes de que = before | sin que = without having to | después (de) que = after

en cuanto/tan pronto como = as soos as| hasta que = until | mientras = whilst

The present subjunctive is also used after the negative form of verbs such as considerar (to consider), creer (to believe), parecer (to seem), pensar (to think).

No parece que nos entiendan bien. → It doesn’t seem like they understand us properly.

Additionally, the present subjunctive is used after expressing feelings through the structure es + adjective + que.

Es necesario que esta tarde hagamos la compra para mañana. → It’s necessary that we do tomorrow’s grocery shopping this afternoon.

When formulating hypothetical conditions or consequences in the present or the future, the present subjunctive is used after expressions such as:

a pesar de que/aunque = even though | como = as/like | cuanto = as much as

de modo que = so that | por más que = no matter how much

For example:

Lo va a intentar, aunque esté muy cansado. = He’s going to try it, even though he’s very tired.

Similarly, the Spanish present subjunctive is used in main clauses where present or future likelihood is expressed. These clauses are usually introduced by adverbs such as:

ojalá = hopefully/let’s hope | probablemente = probably

posiblemente = possibly | quizá(s)/tal vez = maybe/perhaps

Let’s look at some examples:

Tal vez llueva. → Maybe it will rain.

Ojalá consiga el trabajo. → Let’s hope she gets the job.

Lastly, the present subjunctive is used after verbs of emotion (alegrarse = to be happy for), command (exigir = to demand), request (pedir = to ask for) or wishing (desear = to wish) followed by que. In this particular instance, the subjects of both the main clause and the dependent one must differ.

¿Te alegras de que venga? → Are you happy that she is coming?

Quieren que escuchemos. → They want us to listen.


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