present subjunctive
comparatives and superlatives
definite articles
demonstrative adjectives
demonstrative pronouns
direct and indirect object pronouns
double object pronouns
hacer expressions
noun suffix
passive voice
personal pronouns
por and para
possessive adjectives
possessive pronouns
present tense
preterite tense
ques expressions
reflexive verbs
relative pronouns
subject pronouns
present subjunctive
tener expressions


All verb forms so far have been in the indicative mood. The indicative is used to indicate or express actions that are definitely taking place, did take place, or will take place. Look at the following statements in the indicative.
Cuando los amigos de Teresa llegaron, ella se levantó.
Ella les dio la mano.
Ella les dio la mano.
Ella es muy cortés.
The above statements express objective, factual, real information. When Teresa's friends arrived she stood up and gave them her hand. Teresa always stands up and extends her hand. She is very courteous. Because of the factual nature of the information in these sentences, they are in the indicative.
The subjunctive is used more often in Spanish than in English. The subjunctive expresses the opposite of the indicative. The indicative indicates what definitely is. The subjunctive, on the other hand, expresses what may be. Analyze the following statements in the subjunctive and compare them with statements in the indicative.
Indicative: Carlos se comporta bien. Él es cortés.
Subjunctive: Los padres de Carlos quieren que él se comporte bien. Ellos insisten en que él sea cortés.
The first group of sentences in the indicative points out factual information. The second set of sentences states what Carlos' parents insist upon. Note, however, the information is not factual. His parents want him to behave well and insist that he be polite. In spite of their wishes and insistence, it is not assured that Carlos will act accordingly. It may or may not happen and for this reason the subjunctive must be used in Spanish. Note that the subjunctive appears in a clause introduced by que.
You are already familiar with the subjunctive form of verbs because of your study of the formal commands. Those forms are the subjunctive.
hable Ud. coma Ud. escriba Ud. venga Ud. salga Ud.
hablen Uds. coman Uds. escriban Uds. vengan Uds. salgan Uds.
To form the present subjunctive drop the final -o from the first person singular, yo, of the present indicitive and add -e endings to -ar verbs and -a endings to -er and -ir verbs.
Present indicative Root Present subjunctive
hablo habl- hable
como com- coma
escribo escrib- escriba
vengo veng- venga
salgo salg- salga
Infinitive Present "yo" Present Subjunctive
tomar tomo tome, tomes, tome, tomemos, toméis, tomen
comer como coma, comas, coma, comamos, comáis, coman
escribir escribo escriba, escribas, escriba, escribamos, escribáis, escriban
caber quepo quepa, -as, -a, etc.
coger cojo coja, -as, -a, etc.
Remember that any verb that is irregular in the first person yo form of the present tense will maintain that irregularity in the present subjunctive.
Infinitive Indicative (yo) Subjunctive Infinitive Indicative (yo) Subjunctive
tener tengo tenga oír oigo oiga
poner pongo ponga decir digo diga
traer traigo traiga conducir conduzco conduzca
hacer hago haga      
In the present subjunctive, verbs ending in -car, -gar, and -zar, will change according to their yo form of the preterite.
buscar busqué busque, busques, busque, busquemos, busquéis, busquen
pagar pagué pague, pagues, pague, paguemos, paguéis, paguen
alzar alcé alce, alces, alce, alcemos, alcéis, alcen
Stem-changing -ar and -er verbs have the same stem-changes in the present subjunctive.
cerrar cierro cierre, cierres, cierre, cerremos, cerréis, cierren
volver vuelvo vuelva, vuelvas, vuelva, volvamos, volváis, vuelvan
Stem-changing -ir verbs have the same changes in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative. In the nosotros and vosotros forms, the stem vowel e changes to i and the stem vowel o changes to u.
sentir sienta, sientas, sienta, sintamos, sintáis, sientan
dormir duerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis, duerman
pedir pida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan
The following are the only verbs that do not follow the normal pattern in the present subjunctive.
dar dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den
estar esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén
ir vaya. vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan
saber sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan
ser sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

Uses of the subjunctive

The subjunctive is used in noun clauses when the verb of the main clause expresses a wish, real or implied, such as advice, command, desire, hope, permission, preference, request.
Le aconsejaron que saliera en seguida. They advised him to leave at once.
Les digo que entren. I tell them to enter (that they should enter)
Quieren que lleguemos temprano. They want us to arrive (wish that we arrive) early.
Espero que se queden aquí. I hope that they remain here.
El profesor no permite que los alumnos hablen en clase. The teacher does not permit the pupils to speak (that the pupils speak) in class.
The subjunctive is used in noun clauses when the verb of the main clause expresses an emotion, such as fear, joy, sorrow, regret, surprise.
Temían que no volviera. They were afraid that he would not return.
Me alegro de que Uds lo hayan visto. I am glad that you have seen it.
Sentimos que ellos no puedan hacer el viaje. We regret that they cannot make the trip with us.
¿Se sorprenden Uds. de que haya examen hoy? Are you surprised that there is an exam today?
The subjunctive is used in noun clauses when the verb in the main clause expresses doubt, disbelief, denial.
Dudamos que lo sepan. We doubt that they know it.
No creo que Pedro lo halle. I don't believe that peter will find it.
Niegan que esto sea importante. They deny that this is important.
Creo (No dudo) que Pedro lo hallará. I believe (I don't doubt) that Peter will find it.
Note: Because of the uncertainty indicated, the verbs dudar and creer, when used interrogatively, are usually followed by the subjunctive.
The subjunctive is used in noun clauses when the main clause contains an impersonal expression, unless the impersonal expression indicates certainty.
Es preciso que yo lo compre. It is necessary that I buy (for me to buy) it.
Era importante que lo viéramos. It was important that we should see (for us to see) it.
Es probable que vayan. It is probable that they will go.
Es cierto que irán. It is certain that they will go.
Es evidente que él no lo sabe. It is evident that he does not know it.
Es verdad que Juan está enfermo. It is true that John is sick.
The tense of the subjunctive depends on the form of the main verb.
If the verb in main clause is: Then the verb in dependent clause will be either:
present, present perfect, future, command present subjunctive or perfect subjunctive
preterite, imperfect, pluperfect, conditional imperfect subjunctive or pluperfect subjunctive


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Jaime El Sabio