Lesson 21:
The Present Subjunctive

The Present Subjunctive

Difference between subjunctive and indicative

Indicative: The indicative describes actions perform, which were performed or to be performed, are real and defined actions. The indicative mood states facts and expresses certainty or reality. It is based upon knowledge or certainty, and is used in main or leading clauses.

Example:

Ella tiene clases todos los días.
She has classes every day.

Nosotros no estuvimos allí ayer.
We were not there yesterday.

Tú vas a aprender español muy rápido.
You are going to learn Spanish very fast.

These actions are real because they are being made, were made or will be performed, are and also defined actions.

Subjunctive: The subjunctive mood expresses uncertainty, doubt, wishes, desires, fears, and conditions that are unreal or contrary to fact.

It occurs in dependent clauses and is more common in Spanish than in English.

Example:

Ella quiere que nosotros vayamos a la fiesta, pero no podemos.
She wants us to go to the party, but we can’t.

Yo prefiero que ellos coman antes de salir al parque.
I prefer that they eat before leaving to the park.

As can be seen, to form the subjunctive mood it takes two ideas in the same sentence. The first is the sentence that is described by the desire, supplication, suggestion or emotion of a person, and the other is the dependent clause, it depends on the first clause because without the first one could not express, usually it takes two people, and they are two sentences.

Then, in order to express the subjunctive mood takes two sentences, these two sentences are called: Clauses, and we will divide into: Main Clause and Dependent Clause. In the main clause we will find the indicative mood and the dependent clause we will find the subjunctive mood.

Generally these two clauses are joined by the conjunction “que”. If there is no conjunction “que”, then it’s using the infinitive and has a completely different meaning.

 

CONCORDANCE OF TENSES

Main Clause

Indicative mood

 
+
 
que
 
+
Dependent Clause

Subjunctive mood

Generally the two subjects of the two clauses are different.

To form the sentence, we must first learn what we will use in each of the clauses.

The main clause is divided into:

Nominal clause: This clause uses verbs.
Impersonal clause: This clause uses impersonal phrases.
Adverbial clause: This clause uses conjunctions.
Indefinite clause: This clause is formed by subjects or things.
Negative clause: This clause is formed by negative background.

The Dependent clause is divided into:

Present Subjunctive
Past Subjunctive
Present Perfect Subjunctive
Past Perfect Subjunctive

These are the four tenses of the subjunctive mood. And with each one of them we will combine the five clauses of main clause. Recall that the main clause we will find the indicative mood, and the dependent clause we will find the subjunctive mood.

Example:

Yo quiero que él venga temprano.
I want him to come early.

Yo quiero = nominal clause (verb)
que él venga = subjunctive

Es necesario que él venga temprano.
It is necessary that he comes early.

Es necesario = impersonal clause (impersonal phrases)
que él venga = subjunctive

Aunque él no venga temprano, nosotros iremos.
Although he did not come early, we’ll go.

Aunque = adverbial clause (conjunctions)
él no venga = subjunctive

Él necesita una secretaria que hable varios idiomas.
He needs a secretary who speaks several languages.

Él necesita una secretaria = indefinite clause (non-specific)
que hable = subjunctive

No hay nadie que pueda volar.
There isn’t anyone that can fly.

No hay nadie = Negative clause (negative background)
que pueda = subjunctive

Now let’s study the conjugation of verbs for each tense the subjunctive. We will also study the combination of main clauses and these tenses.

 

Present Subjunctive

Formation of verbs

Regular Verbs:

Most verbs in the present subjunctive are formed by dropping the ending “-o” of the “yo” in the present indicative and adding the corresponding endings.

For “-ar” verbs, we change “-o” for the following endings:

Caminar (to walk)
Yo -e Yo camine
-es camines
usted/Él/ella -e usted/Él/ella camine
Nosotros -emos Nosotros caminemos
Ellos/ellas -en Ellos/ellas caminen
Ustedes -en Ustedes caminen

For -er / ir verbs, we change -o to the following endings:

Poner (to drive) Conducir (to put)
Yo -a Yo ponga conduzca
-as pongas conduzcas
usted/Él/ella -a usted/Él/ella ponga conduzca
Nosotros -amos Nosotros pongamos conduzcamos
Ellos/ellas -an Ellos/ellas pongan conduzcan
Ustedes -an Ustedes pongan conduzcan

The verbs with irregular forms in “yo” in the present tense indicative, use the same irregular stem to form the present tense subjunctive.

Stem-Changing Verbs:

Stem-Changing “-ar” and “-er” verbs have the same stem changes in the present tense subjunctive as in the present tense indicative, e to ie / o to ue. And like the present tense indicative, there is no change when using “nosotros”.

Pensar (to think) Contar (to count)
Yo piense cuente
pienses cuentes
usted/Él/ella piense cuente
Nosotros pensemos contemos
Ellos/ellas piensen cuenten
Ustedes piensen cuenten

Stem -Changing “-ir” verbs have the same stem change in the present tense subjunctive as in the present tense indicative, e to ie / o to ue / e to i. In the “nosotros” form, the stem vowel “e” changes to “i” and the stem vowel “o” changes to “u”.

Sentir (to feel) Dormir (to sleep) Repetir (to repeat)
Yo sienta duerma repita
sientas duermas repitas
usted/Él/ella sienta duerma repita
Nosotros sintamos durmamos repitamos
Ellos/ellas sientan duerman repitan
Ustedes sientan duerman repitan

In the present subjunctive of verbs ending in “-car”, “-gar” and “-zar”, “c” changes to “qu”, “g” to “gu”, and “z” to “c”. The spelling changes are the same as those that occur in the “yo” form of the preterit. But in this case, the change occurs in all grammatical persons.

Example: tocar = yo toqué / pagar = yo pagué / lanzar = yo lan

Tocar (to touch) Pagar (to pay) Lanzar (to throw)
Yo toque pague lance
toques pagues lances
usted/Él/ella toque pague lance
Nosotros toquemos paguemos lancemos
Ellos/ellas toquen paguen lancen
Ustedes toquen paguen lancen

Irregular Verbs:

The following verbs have irregular forms in the present subjunctive.

Ir
(to go)
Ser
(to be)
Dar
(to give)
Haber
(to have)
Estar
(to be)
Saber
(to know)
Yo vaya sea haya esté sepa
vayas seas des hayas estés sepas
usted/Él/ella vaya sea haya esté sepa
Nosotros vayamos seamos demos hayamos estemos sepamos
Ellos/ellas vayan sean den hayan estén sepan
Ustedes vayan sean den hayan estén sepan

The present subjunctive tense expresses a present desire, suggestion, plea, doubt, emotion, or probability, which may or may not happen in the future. Recall that future probabilities are expressed by the subjunctive in the dependent clause.

 

CONCORDANCE OF TENSES

Main Clause

Present tense indicative
Future tense indicative
Commands: The Imperative

+
que
+
Dependent Clause

 
Present Subjunctive

Nominal clause (verbs)

In nominal clause verbs, there is a specific classification of verbs that can be combined with the subjunctive.

These verbs are:

Desire: desear, esperar, necesitar, querer, preferir.

Example:

Él quiere que yo vaya a la fiesta con él.
He wants me to go to the party with him.

Yo necesito que tú termines el ejercicio en la clase.
I need you to finish the exercise in the class.

La mamá prefiere que los niños jueguen adentro.
The mom prefers that the children play inside.

Suggestion: aconsejar, prevenir, proponer, recomendar, sugerir.

Example:

Yo propongo que hagamos más ejercicios del subjuntivo.
I propose that we do more subjunctive exercises.

La maestra sugiere que todos hagamos un resumen del libro.
The teacher suggests that we all do a summary of the book.

Los guías recomiendan que los turistas no se separen del grupo.
The guides recommend that tourists not separate from the group.

Plea: implorar, orar, pedir, rezar, rogar, suplicar.

Example:

La mamá ruega que sus hijos estén bien.
The mother begs that her children are well.

Los ciudadanos rogarán que el nuevo presidente sea bueno.
Citizens will pray that the new president will be good.

Doubt: creer, dudar*, imaginar, pensar, sospechar, suponer.

*All verbs except dudar use the subjunctive only in a negative or interrogative form.

Example:

Yo dudo que llueva hoy, hace mucho sol.
I doubt that it rains today, it’s very sunny.

No creo que él venga rápido, hay mucho tráfico.
I do not think he comes fast, there is a lot of traffic.

¿Sospechas tú que alguien de la oficina esté involucrado en el robo?
Do you suspect that someone in the office is involved in the robbery?

Command: decir, dejar, empeñarse en, exigir, hacer, impedir, insistir en, mandar, necesitar, obligar, ordenar, permitir, prohibir.

Example:

Mi mamá dice a mis hermanos que coman todas las verduras.
My mom says to my brothers to eat all of the vegetables.

El gobierno obligará a todos los padres de familia a que inscriban a sus hijos a la escuela.
The government will force all parents to enroll their children to school.

En mi trabajo, pronto prohibirán que lleguemos sin uniforme.
In my work, soon they will forbid that we go to work without uniforms.

Feeling: encantar, extrañar, gustar, lamentar, sentir, temer, tener miedo de.

Example:

Lamento que ya tengas que irte de la fiesta.
I am sorry that you have to leave the party.

Extraño mucho que me llame todas los días, antes lo hacìa ahora ya no mucho.
I miss that he/she calls me everyday, before he/she did, but now not so much.

Emotion: (Reflexive emotion verbs use the subjunctive with indirect object pronouns plus the third person singular él of the verb.) Alegrarse, angustiarse, asombrarse, asustarse, conmoverse, disgustarse, emocionarse, enfadarse, enojarse, espantarse, incomodarse, indignarse, interesarse, irritarse, molestar, preocuparse, sorprenderse.

Example:

Emocionarse

me emociona
te emociona
le emociona
nos emociona
les emociona
Example:

Me emociona que tú vengas a mi país.
I’m excited for you to come to my country.

A la señora le alegrará que tú rescates a su gato del árbol.
The lady will be happy that you rescue her cat from the tree.

A él le sorprende que tú tengas hambre, porque ya comiste mucho.
He was surprised that you’re hungry, because you already ate a lot.

When the previous verbs use the reflexive form, they generally use “de” before “que”

Example:

Emocionarse

me emociono de
te emocionas de
se emociona de
nos emocionamos de
se emocionan de
Example:

Me emociono de que tú vengas a mi país.
I’m excited for you to come to my country.

La señora se alegrará de que tú rescates a su gato del árbol.
The lady will be happy that you rescue her cat from the tree.

Él se sorprende de que tú tengas hambre, porque ya comiste mucho.
He was surprised that you’re hungry, because you already ate a lot.

Impersonal clause (impersonal phrases)

We will divide these clauses into two groups, as follows.

Impersonal phrases expressing doubt, possibility or any opinion, plus the conjunction “que”, use the subjunctive. If they do not use this conjunction, do not use the subjunctive, and the verb should be in the infinitive.

These phrases are:

conviene que agree that / should es probable que it is likely that
es aconsejable que it is advisable that es recomendable que it is recommended that
es alegre que it is great that es sorprendente que it is surprising that
es asombroso que it is amazing that es triste que it is sad that
es bueno que it is good that es una lástima que it is a pity that
es conveniente que it is desirable that es urgente que it is urgent that
es difícil que it is difficult that importa que it matters that
es dudoso que it is doubtful that más vale que It’s worth that
es fácil que it is easy that ojalá que hopefully that
es importante que it is important that parece mentira que not believe that
es imposible que it is impossible that posiblemente possibly
es increíble que it is incredible that probablemente maybe / possibly
es lamentable que it is a shame / unfortunate that puede ser que it can be that
es malo que it is wrong that quizá / quizás perhaps
es mejor que it is better that sorprende que surprising that
es necesario que it is necessary that tal vez maybe
es posible que it is possible that urge que urgent that
es preciso que it is necessary that vale la pena que it is worthwhile that
es preferible que it is preferable that
Example:

Es importante que todos los estudiantes hablen constantemente español.
It is important that all students consistently speak Spanish.

Ojalá que mi mamá traiga todo lo que le pedimos para la fiesta.
Hopefully my mom brings all that we ask her for the party.

Es lamentable que los políticos no hagan nada por su pueblo.
It is unfortunate that politicians do nothing for their town.

Quizás él venga temprano, pero lo dudo porque él tenía mucho trabajo.
Maybe he comes early, but I doubt it because he had so much work.

La maestra dice que es mejor que los estudiantes traigan todo el material a la clase.
The teacher says that it’s better that the students bring all the materials to the class.

Impersonal phrases expressing certainty only use the subjunctive mood in a negative way and used the conjunction “que”. When they are used in affirmative form, they use the verb in the indicative, and not subjunctive.

These phrases are:

no es cierto que it is not true that
no es claro que it is not clear that
no es evidente que it is not evident that
no es lógico que it is not logical that
no es obvio que it is not obvious that
no es seguro que it is not sure that
no es verdad que it is not true that
no parece que it doesn’t seem that
Example:

No es claro que los acusados estén diciendo la verdad.
It is not clear that the defendants are telling the truth.

No es lógico que traigamos más comida, ya tenemos suficiente.
It is not logical that we bring more food, we have enough.

No es seguro que el doctor traiga la medicina, así que es mejor que nosotros vayamos a comprarla.
It is not certain that the doctor brings the medicine, so it’s better that we go to buy it.

Adverbial clause (conjunctions)

Adverbial clauses are words or phrases that join two sentences. These conjunctions are divided into three groups.

In the first group we use the subjunctive after the conjunction if the idea is in future, and if the idea is in present, we use the indicative mood.

These conjunctions are:

apenas barely, just
así que so that
cuando when, whenever
después de que after that
durante during
en cuanto as soon as
en seguida de que inmediately after that
hasta que until
luego de que after that
mientras que while, whereas
tan pronto como as soon as
Example:

Vamos a ir al cine en cuanto mi mamá regrese del supermercado.
We’re going to the movies as soon as my mom comes back from the supermarket.

Dale postre al niño después de que se coma todo el almuerzo.
Give the child dessert after he eats the entire lunch.

Los manifestantes no se van a retirar hasta que el gobierno cumpla con todas sus demandas.
Protesters will not withdraw until the government meets all of their demands.

The following conjunctions use the subjunctive form when they use the word “que”, if not, use the infinitive.

These conjunctions are:

a fin de que in order that
a menos que unless
a no ser que unless
antes de que before
con la condición de que with the condition that
con tal de que as long as
en caso de que in case that
para que in order that, so that, for
sin que without
Example:

Lee en voz alta para que todos oigan.
Read out loud for everyone to hear.

Vamos a hacer la tarea antes de que mi mamá regrese de trabajar.
We will do the homework before my mom gets back from work.

Él irá a la fiesta con tal de que ella no se enoje.
He will go to the party as long as she doesn’t get mad.

The following conjunctions use the subjunctive if the idea is unknown, if the idea is known use the indicative.

aunque in spite of / even if
como how
de manera que so that, and so
de modo que so that, and so
donde where
la próxima vez que the next time
según according to
Example:

Ellos van a hacer las cosas como lo indique su mamá.
They are going to do the things as their mom says.
Ellos van a hacer las cosas como lo indica su mamá. (known)

Yo iré al doctor de modo que mi hija vaya también.
I will go to the doctor so that my daughter goes too.
Yo iré al doctor de modo que mi hija va también. (known)

Tráeme la información la próxima vez que vengas.
Bring me the information the next time you come.
Tráeme la información la próxima vez. (known)

Indefinite clause (non-specific persons or things)

Any clause with an indefinite subject uses the subjunctive and generally uses the following verbs: desear, querer, requerir, necesitar, buscar, pedir. Here we use the indefinite article un, una, unos, unas because the subject is non-specific.

Example:

El director necesita un maestro que esté capacitado para esta clase.
The principal needs a teacher who is qualified for this class.

Yo deseo una casa que sea amplia y tenga espacios abiertos.
I want a home that is spacious and has open spaces.

La maestra necesita un libro que contenga todos los temas para su clase.
The teacher needs a book that contains all the topics for her class.

The following expressions always use the subjunctive in order to express an idea indefinitely.

Comoquiera que however
Cualquier + noun + que any + noun + that
Cualquiera que whoever
Cuandoquiera que whenever
Dondequiera que wherever
¿hay algo que …? Is there something that …?
¿hay alguien que …? Is there someone who …?
¿hay algún + noun + que …? Is there any + noun + that … ?
¿hay alguna / algunas / algunos + noun + que …? Is there any + noun + that … ?
Lo que / el que / la que / los que / las que what / that / which
Por + adjective or adverb + que for + adjective or adverb + that
Quienquiera que Whoever
siempre que as long as
Example:

Iré dondequiera que él vaya.
I will go wherever he goes.

No compraré la blusa por barata que sea, es muy grande para mí.
I will not buy the blouse, even if it is cheap, it’s too big for me.

¿Hay algo aquí que yo pueda usar para cocinar el pollo?
Is there something here that I can use to cook the chicken?

Compraré lo que yo necesite para la fiesta en la misma tienda, no quiero caminar mucho.
I will buy what I need for the party in the same store; I do not want to walk far.

Negative clause (negative background)

A grammatical sentence that contradicts (or negates) all or part of the meaning of a sentence.

Example:

No + verb + noun + que No + verb + noun + that
No hay + noun + que There is no + noun + que
No hay nada que There is nothing that
No hay nadie que There is no one that
No hay ningún + noun + que There is no + noun + that
No hay ninguna / ningunas / ningunos + noun + que There is no + noun + that
No hay ninguno que There is no one that
No puede ser que It cannot be that
Example:

No hay ningún carro que pueda volar.
There is no car that can fly.

No hay nadie que pueda ir al sol.
There is no one that can go to the sun.

No necesito una casa que tenga terraza.
I do not need a house that has a terrace.