Formation of the present subjunctive

Take the first person singular of the present tense, remove the ending -o, and add the following endings:

-AR verbs

-e, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en


Hablar > hablo > habl- >>> hable, hables hable hablemos habléis hablen

-ER and -IR verbs

-a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an


Comer > como > com- >>> coma, comas, coma, comamos, comáis, coman

Verbs that are irregular in the first person singular of the present indicative will be irregular throughout the present subjunctive.


Poner > pongo > pong- >>> ponga, pongas, ponga, pongamos, pongáis, pongan

Tener > tengo > teng- > tenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tengáis, tengan

Estar, ir, dar, ser, saber are all irregular.

Saber > sé >>> sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan

Estar > estoy>>> esté, estés , testé, estemos, estéis, estén

Dar > doy >>> dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den

Ser > soy >>> sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

Ir > voy >>> vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan

These are not all the irregular verbs. There are many more. You can find some in your text book. Note that there are several excellent verb books available from Indigo / Chapters and, including Bescherelle, Baron’s, and 501 Spanish Verbs. These are easily accessible, highly recommended, extremely useful, and relatively cheap.

Remember that stem changing verbs will usually stem change in the subjunctive too:

Volver > vuelvo >>> vuelva, vuelvas, vuelva, volvamos, volváis, vuelvan.

However, there are several irregularities, in addition to tener (above):

Seguir > sigo >>> siga, sigas, siga, sigamos, sigáis, sigan
Pedir > pido >>> pida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan.

Note too spelling changes that occur with the introduction of the vowel -e; for example:

Llegar > llego >>> llegue, llegues, llegue ...
Rogar > ruego >>> ruegue, ruegues, ruegue ...

Buscar > busco >>> busque, busques, busque ...
Acercar > acerco >>> acerque, acerques, acerque ...

I Use of the subjunctive in main clauses

Remember that the subjunctive is also the command form on 8 out of ten occasions.

1. All five negative commands:

No hables tú, no hable Ud., no hablemos nosotros, no habléis vosotros, no hablen Uds.

2. Three positive commands:

Hable Ud., hablemos, and hablen Uds.

3. The two exceptions in the command forms are

Habla tú (verb formed from the third person singular present indicative)

Hablad vosotros (the infinitive [hablar] minus the final -r, add a final -d [hablad]).

II Paradigms for the command forms:

Regular verbs that end in -AR (Example: HABLAR)



Present Subjunctive Negative
yo hablo hable --- ---
hablas hables no hables habla *
Ud. habla hable no hable hable
nosotros hablamos hablemos no hablemos hablemos
vosotros habláis habléis no habléis hablad **
Uds. hablan hablen no hablen hablen

* As was stated above, habla (3rd person singular, present indicative) is irregular.

** Hablad is irregular too (take the infinitive, take off the final -R and add -d.

Regular verbs that end in -ER (Example: COMER)



Present Subjunctive Negative
yo como coma --- ---
comes comas no comas come *
Ud. come coma no coma coma
nosotros comemos comamos no comamos comamos
vosotros coméis comáis no comáis comed **
Uds. comen coman no coman coman

* As was stated above, vive (3rd person singular, present indicative) is irregular.

** Comed is irregular too (take the infinitive, take off the final -R and add -d.

Regular verbs tthat end in -IR (Example: VIVIR)



Present Subjunctive Negative
yo vivo viva --- ---
vives vivas no vivas vive *
Ud. vive viva no viva viva
nosotros vivimos vivamos no vivamos vivamos
vosotros vivís viváis no viváis vivid **
Uds. viven vivan no vivan vivan

* As was stated above, vive (3rd person singular, present indicative) is irregular.

** Vivid is irregular too (take the infinitive, take off the final -R and add -d.

III Subjunctive in Main Clauses (Cont).

The subjunctive is regularly used after ojalá (would that / I wish that):

Ojalá que llegue pronto / I wish he would get here soon.

Ojalá que llueva / I wish it would rain.

Ojalá llueva / Ojalá llegue pronto are also permissible. My personal preference is to include the 'que'!

It is also used after que in constructions which imply an indirect command like

Yo no quiero hacerlo. Que lo haga Pedro. / I don’t want to do it. Let Peter do it.

Yo no quiero trabajar. Que trabaje el profesor. / I don’t want to work. Let the prof do the work.

IV Use of the subjunctive in noun clauses

The basic build up to this goes as follows:

1. I want the book. Quiero el libro.
What do I want? The book. The book is the direct object of the verb.

2. I want the book which is on the table. Quiero el libro que está en la mesa.

3. I want to go. Quiero ir. (Same subject, direct infinitive – I want / I go).

4. I want you! Te quiero!

HOWEVER! I want you to do something; different subject in the dependent clause; then subjunctive needed in the dependent clause.

5. I want you to speak more slowly. Quiero que tú hables más despacio.

6. I want you to improve your Spanish. Quiero que mejores tu español.

7. They want me to write more clearly. Quieren que [yo] escriba con más claridad.

There are other examples in the text book and we will be working on these in class.

This is a very basic introduction to the subjunctive. If you can follow this, then the subjunctive should provide no real difficulties for you.

V Some testing procedures

We are using two types of testing procedures, fill in the blanks (relatively easy if you know your irregular verbs) and generative grammar (relatively easy if you are fluent with vocabulary and the forms you are using or trying to use).

In a generative grammar question, you get a clue and must complete the rest of the exercise based on that clue. usually there is no single correct answer. All the answers you may generate will be correct if the grammar is good, makes sense, and follows the basic rules. However, answers will be incorrect if the rules are broken.

Here is an example:

Omar quiere que yo hable sobre Acadia, pero yo quiero... [rest of sentence needed]

Now, instead of filling in a blank in an otherwise complete sentence, you must generate a response. Suitable responses might be

A1 ... pero yo quiero hablar sobre Quebec o sobre Argentina.
A2 ... pero yo quiero mostrar diapositivas.

B1 ... pero yo quiero que Antonine Maillet hable sobre Acadia.
B2 ... pero yo quiero que mi amiga Annette nos muestre sus fotos de Acadia.

All four are "correct" but there is no one single correct answer. You must generate your own correct answer. Hence, generative grammar.

The only rule you need really worry about is "same subject in main clause and dependent clause means an infinitive" as in answers A1 and A2; "different subjects means you must use a subjunctive" as in answers B1 and B2.

Note that these are, to a certain extent, simplifications for easy learning. A fuller explanation of the uses of the subjunctive can be found in your current grammar book.

Note too that you will be meeting the subjunctive in three different ways: in the grammar class, in the intensive oral class, and in the Culture and Composition class. The combination of all three of these approaches is what will best fix the form and the usage of the subjunctive for you.

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