Mastering the Present Subjunctive in Spanish

Understanding and using the present subjunctive in Spanish is key to expressing desires, doubts, and hypothetical situations. Let’s break down how to form and use this important verb mood:

Forming the Present Subjunctive with Regular Verbs:

Take the infinitive of the verb (e.g., trabajar, with the root trabaj-) and add the following endings:

Verbs ending in -ar: yo trabaje, tú trabajes, él / ella / usted trabaje, nosotros / nosotras trabajemos, vosotros / vosotras trabajéis, ellos / ellas / ustedes trabajen.
Verbs ending in -er or -ir: yo coma, tú comas, él / ella / usted coma, nosotros / nosotras comamos, vosotros / vosotras comáis, ellos / ellas / ustedes coman.

Verbs ending in -arVerbs ending in -er or -ir
yo-e-a
-es-as
él / ella / usted-e-a
nosotros/ nosotras-emos-amos
ustedes-en-an
ellos / ellas-en-an

Handling Irregular Verbs:

Irregular verbs in the first person singular of the present indicative typically maintain the same irregularity in the present subjunctive. For example: tengo – tenga, digo – diga, pido – pida, salgo – salga, pongo – ponga. Simply remove the “o” and add the subjunctive ending.

Some verbs have unique irregularities in the present subjunctive, such as ir, saber, ser, haber, estar: que yo vaya, que yo sepa, que yo sea, que yo haya, que yo esté.

If you want to delve deeper into this topic, I recommend reading this comprehensive article on the present subjunctive in Spanish.

Indicative vs. Subjunctive: something that may or may not exist

We use the indicative mood to talk about things with a known identity or existence:

“Busco a una profesora de español que habla inglés.” 

Here, I already know the teacher exists and speaks English.

In contrast, we use the subjunctive mood to express uncertainty or desires about something that may or may not exist:

“Busco a una profesora de español que hable inglés.” 

In this case, I’m uncertain if such a teacher exists, and speaking English is one of the desired characteristics.

Another example is when shopping:

“Busco una camisa que es de color roja.” 

If you’ve seen the shirt before and want to buy it again.

“Busco una camisa que sea de color roja.”

When you’re unsure if the store has the specific red shirt you want.

Download the “Present Subjunctive” Diagram:

Visualize and reinforce your understanding with our downloadable diagram on the present subjunctive.

Check out this recommended resource for practicing the present subjunctive in Spanish!

I hope this guide has enhanced your practice and comprehension of Spanish grammar!

¡Hasta la próxima!

Giane

About The Author

Gianella

Giane was born and raised in Chile, except for the time she moved to Spain and attended university there. She studied Education and Psychology at the University of Barcelona. She started teaching Spanish when she decided to travel around Europe, since then she has not stopped teaching languages.

Leave a Reply