Overcoming grammatical hurdles can take time, patience, and practice. One of the challenging concepts to master in this beautiful language is the use of the present subjunctive Spanish.
First, let’s check out this video by Mariana from Spring Spanish (a project I’m a co-founder) where she walks you through an easy way to always use this mood correctly!
In this blog post, we will take you through the present subjunctive Spanish: its definition, usage, formation, examples, common errors, and practice exercises to help you master it!
1. What is Present Subjunctive Spanish (el presente de subjuntivo)?
Common verbs and chunks used with the present subjunctive
|es posible||it’s possible|
|es importante que||it’s important that|
Take a look at the following examples about the present subjunctive Spanish:
Espero que ellos vengan pronto. – I hope they come soon.
This sentence uses the verb ‘esperar’ to indicate a doubt or uncertainty in the sentence and uses ‘venir’ in present subjunctive form.
Quiero que tú sepas la verdad. – I want you to know the truth.
This sentence introduces the verb ‘querer’ to indicate a desire or imperative need. The speaker wants a certain outcome (to know the truth – sepas) but whether this will happen isn’t clear.
Es importante que nosotros estudiemos para el examen. – It’s important that we study for the exam.
This sentence uses the chunk ‘es importante’ to express a necessity or obligation. The outcome (to study for the exam – estudiemos) isn’t reality yet but it’s important for the speaker to happen.
So, to summarize all of this: these sentences use the present subjunctive and the present subjunctive conjugation of verbs because there is doubt, uncertainty and necessity in them.
The present subjunctive is formed by changing the endings of the verbs, which we will discuss in the next section!
2. How to form the present subjunctive with regular verbs
If you want to correctly conjugate the present subjunctive Spanish, you have to start with the present indicative form of the verb in 1st person singular – yo.
To form the present subjunctive, you simply have to drop the “-o” ending of the “yo” form in present indicative and add the appropriate endings: “-e” for “-ar” verbs and “-a” for “-er” and “-ir” verbs.
Here’s the present subjunctive conjugation table for -ar verbs
|Subject||-AR Verb Endings||Example|
Check out the correct conjugation of esperar in subjunctive
Esperamos que ustedes comprendan la importancia de este proyecto. – We hope that you understand the importance of this project.
Here’s the present subjunctive conjugation table for -er and -ir verbs
|Subject||-ER/-IR Verb Endings||Example|
Here’s an example for the correct conjugation of the verb querer in the present subjunctive
Here’s an example for the correct conjugation of the verb vivir in the present subjunctive:
Let’s take a look at the following sentences to see all of this in action:
Espero que ellos quieran participar en el concurso. – I hope that they want to participate in the contest.
Es importante que él viva una vida saludable. – It’s important that he leads a healthy life.
3. How to use the present subjunctive in Spanish with irregular verbs
Irregular verbs in subjunctive possess stem changes or completely change compared to their indicative forms.
Lucky for any Spanish language learner, there are only 6 irregular verbs in the present subjunctive, and these are:
- Dar (to give)
- Estar (to be)
- Ser (to be)
- Ir (to go)
- Saber (to know)
- Haber (to have)
Conjugation table for Dar, Estar and Ser
Conjugation table for Ir, Saber and Haber
Stem-changing verbs in the present subjunctive mood
Some verbs in Spanish have a unique feature where the final vowel in their stem changes when conjugated in the present subjunctive form.
To help you, we created a table of these verbs and their corresponding stem changes in their present subjunctive forms.
Take a look!
Remember: when we conjugate regular verbs in the present subjunctive, we conjugate the verb based on its infinitive form and then we remove the infinitive ending.
- e to i
|Subject||Conjugated verb (correr)|
Other stem-changing (e to i) verbs: conseguir, seguir, servir, pedir.
- e to ie/e
|Subject||Conjugated verb (entender)|
Other stem-changing (e to ie/e) verbs: pensar, empezar, perder.
- e to ie/i
|Subject||Conjugated verb (preferir)|
Other stem-changing (e to ie/i) verbs: mentir, sentir.
- o to ue/o
|Subject||Conjugated verb (costar)|
Other stem-changing (o to ue/o) verbs: volver, volar, poder, encontrar.
- o to ue/u
|Subject||Conjugated verb (dormir)|
Other stem-changing (o to ue/u) verbs: morir.
- u to ue/u
|Subject||Conjugated verb (jugar)|
If you’re studying Spanish or planning to, you might want to take note of these verbs, practice with them and use them correctly in sentences.
4. When to use the subjunctive in Spanish vs indicative in Spanish?
Sometimes, it’s a little bit hard to differentiate the subjunctive and the indicative in Spanish.
The biggest difference between the subjunctive and indicative in Spanish has to do with the level of certainty or factualness of the information.
The subjunctive is used when the speaker is expressing:
- personal opinions
On the other hand, the indicative is used to express:
- facts or
- to describe specific people or things
Whether the action has already happened or not also plays a part in which mood to use:
Action has not yet happened = SUBJUNCTIVE.
Action has already taken place = INDICATIVE.
For an in-depth explanation of the difference between subjunctive vs indicative mood, you can check out the following video from Spring Spanish: Don’t ever confuse them!
5. Practice section – Fill in the blanks!
I. Complete the sentences with the appropriate present subjunctive form of the verbs in parentheses.
If you want, you can get the full access to our library of practice worksheets where you can perfect your Spanish knowledge! What’s even better? A downloadable PDF to save all of these examples to your PC. Click the button below to get access!
6. Learn the Spanish present subjunctive with Conversation Based Chunking
Mastering the Spanish subjunctive isn’t just about memorizing the conjugations, but understanding how and when to use them correctly.
Remember, the subjunctive is all about expressing feelings, doubts, and uncertainties, while the indicative deals with facts and sureties. The difference might seem subtle, but it’s crucial in Spanish grammar. Keep practicing with these verbs and applying them in context.
To make your learning journey easier and more enjoyable, consider getting our Spanish Chunking Starter Pack. It’s a comprehensive resource, filled with exercises that will help you understand and use Spanish like a native.
Don’t wait, grab your pack down below and embrace the beauty of Spanish!