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The Past Subjunctive Tense
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  Verb Tenses  
    An introduction to verbs & personal pronouns  
    Verbs - Ser (to be) Estar (to be)  
    The present simple tense - regular verbs (I am)  
    The present simple tense - irregular verbs (I am)  
    The past simple tense - regular verbs (I was)  
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    The present subjunctive tense  
    The past subjunctive tense (If I were to)  
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Summary of Lesson
When the past subjunctive tense is used and how it compares to how it is used in English.
Looking at how verb endings are formed in the past subjunctive tense with regular verbs. (Two different methods).
A look at some irregular verbs in the past subjunctive tense and how the formation of verb stems mirror those of the past simple (preterite), tense.
A look at how the past subjunctive tense is used with 'if statements' and when the present simple tense might be used instead.
   
  What you can learn from this lesson
   
Understanding when the past subjunctive tense is used in conversation and in what types of situations. (Hypothetical constructions.)
Understanding how verbs in the past subjunctive tense are formed. Being able to identify common stem changes with those of the past simple (preterite), tense. Knowing how to form verb ending using both formation methods and appreciating when each may be used in the real world!
Being able to formulate sentences in the past subjunctive tense when using 'if statements' and comparing these to 'if statements' in the present simple tense.
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PART 1

 

The first part of this lesson looks at when the past subjunctive tense is used. In Spanish this tense is used less often than other tenses but of course it is still very important. Like the present subjunctive tense the past subjunctive tense is used to reflect mood, desire, and the existence of doubt or potential. It is similar to the conditional tenses in that it is often used to convey hypothetical situations.

 

The past subjunctive tense does not exist in English in the same way that it does in Spanish. No direct comparison can be made between Spanish and English like it can with other tenses. Instead in English other past tenses, the imperative tense or the conditional tense might be used instead.

 

When the past subjunctive tense is used.

 

1)      Like the present subjunctive tense the past subjunctive tense is often used in sentences that contain two different verbs and two different subjects. (The second verb in the sentence is formed in the past subjunctive tense.) The difference however is that the first verb in the sentence will usually be in one of the past tenses.

 

Yo querría que él viviera conmigo.

I wanted him to live with me.

 

Ella me preguntó que yo no le diga nada.

She asked me not to tell him anything.

 

Notice how in English the second verb in each sentence is in the imperative form. This is also true of similar sentences in the present subjunctive tense. The first verb in each sentence in both Spanish and English is in one of the past tenses.

 

2)      When forming sentences with the conjunction ‘si’ meaning ‘if’ (if statements). The past subjunctive tense is used with if statements to express hypothetical situations or unlikely or impossible conditions.

 

Si yo fuera tú yo no compraría ese coche.

If I were you I wouldn’t buy that car.

 

Si solamente () estuvieras diez años más joven.

If only you were ten years younger.

 

Si yo tuviera más dinero yo podría comprarlo.

If I had more money I cold buy it.

 

Notice that where in Spanish the past subjunctive tense is used, the past simple (preterite), tense is used in English.

 

PART 2

 

The second part of the lesson looks at how the past subjunctive tense is formed with regular verbs. As is the case with all regular verb formations it is only the endings of the verbs that change.

 

In Spanish there are two ways in which the past subjunctive tense can be formed. The first method illustrated below is the most common. The second method is still used however especially in some older texts. Whichever method is used it is important to remember that the meaning is exactly the same.

 

Method 1

 

personal pronoun bailar comer vivir
  (to dance) (to eat) (to live)
yo bailara comiera viviera
bailaras comieras vivieras
él/ella/usted bailara comiera viviera
nosotros/nosotras bailáramos comiéramos viviéramos
vosotros/vosotras bailarais comierais vivierais
ellos/ellas/ustedes bailaran comieran vivieran

 

Things to note:

 

1)      The endings of regular ER and IR verbs are exactly the same.

2)      The verb formations in the 1st person singular (yo) and the third person plural (él/ella/usted) are the same for AR, ER and IR regular verbs.

 

Method 2

 

personal pronoun bailar comer vivir
  (to dance) (to eat) (to live)
yo bailase comiese viviese
bailases comieses vivieses
él/ella/usted bailase comiese viviese
nosotros/nosotras bailásemos comiésemos viviésemos
vosotros/vosotras bailaseis comieseis vivieseis
ellos/ellas/ustedes bailasen comiesen viviesen

 

Things to note:

 

1)      The endings of regular ER and IR verbs are exactly the same.

2)      The verb formations in the 1st person singular (yo) and the third person plural (él/ella/usted) are the same for AR, ER and IR regular verbs.

 

PART 3

 

Part three of the lesson looks at irregular verb formations with the past subjunctive tense. Irregular verbs take the same endings as regular verbs but the verb stems may also change. If the verb stems do change then most of the time they change in the same way as they do for irregular verbs in the past simple (preterite), tense.

 

The following is a list of some common examples:-

 

  yo el/ella/usted nosotros/as vosotros/as ellos/ellas/
ustedes
dar
(to give)
diera
diese
dieras
dieses
diera
diese
diéramos
diésemos
dierais
dieseis
dieran
diesen
decir
(to say)
dijera
dijese
dijeras
dijeses
dijera
dijese
dijéramos
dijésemos
dijerais
dijeseis
dijeran
dijesen
estar
(to be)
estuviera
estuviese
estuvieras
estuvieses
estuviera
estuviese
estuviéramos
estuviésemos
estuvierais
estuvieseis
estuvieran
estuviesen
hacer
(to do/make)
hiciera
hiciese
hicieras
hicieses
hiciera
hiciese
hiciéramos
hiciésemos
hicierais
hicieseis
hicieran
hiciesen
poder
(to be able)
pudiera
pudiese
pudieras
pudieses
pudiera
pudiese
pudiéramos
pudiésemos
pudierais
pudieseis
pudieran
pudiesen
poner
(to put)
pusiera
pusiese
pusieras
pusieses
pusiera
pusiese
pusiéramos
pusiésemos
pusierais
pusieseis
pusieran
pusiesen
querer
(to want)
quisiera
quisiese
quisieras
quisieses
quisiera
quisiese
quisiéramos
quisiésemos
quisierais
quisieseis
quisieran
quisiesen
saber
(to know)
supiera
supiese
supieras
supieses
supiera
supiese
supiéramos
supiésemos
supierais
supieseis
supieran
supiesen
tener
(to have)
tuviera
tuviese
tuvieras
tuvieses
tuviera
tuviese
tuviéramos
tuvieseis
tuvierais
tuvieseis
tuvieran
tuviesen
venir
(to come)
viniera
viniese
vinieras
vinieses
viniera
viniese
viniéramos
viniésemos
vinierais
vinieseis
vinieran
viniesen
ver
(to see)
viera
viese
vieras
vieses
viera
viese
viéramos
viésemos
vierais
vieseis
vieran
viesen
ser (to be)
ir (to go)
fuera
fuese
fueras
fueses
fuera
fuese
fuéramos
fuésemos
fuerais
fueseis
fueran
fuesen

Things to note:

 

1)      The verb formations in the 1st person singular (yo) and the third person plural (él/ella/usted) is the same for AR, ER and IR regular verbs.

2)      All verbs can be formed using two different methods.

3)      The verbs ‘decir’ (to say) and ‘ir’ (to go) have slightly different endings. The ‘i’ is dropped. This occurs only with some IR ending verbs.

4)      The verbs ‘ir’ (to go) and ‘ser’ (to be) are formed in exactly the same way.

 

PART 4

 

The fourth part of the lesson looks specifically at ‘if’ statements. Sometimes in Spanish the present simple tense may be used with ‘if’ statements and sometimes the past subjunctive tense may be used. The correct tense to use depends of the type of sentence. Part one of the lesson explains how the past subjunctive tense is used with ‘if’ statements to express hypothetical situations or unlikely or impossible conditions.

 

A verb that is formed in the present simple tense follows an ‘if’ statement instead of the past subjunctive tense in the following situations.

 

1)      When talking about things that will or won’t happen if something else is or isn’t satisfied.

 

Si (tú) me das diez Euros (yo) lo haré.

If you give me ten Euros I will do it.

 

(Yo) gritaré si () no me sueltas.

I will shout if you don’t let go of me.

 

1)      When talking about likely possibilities.

 

(Tú) podrías qemarte si no te pones bloqueador.

You could burn if you don’t put on suntan lotion.

 

Él debería ganar si él continua así.

He should win if he keeps on like that.

 

Note, that if in Spanish the conditional tense with ‘would’ is used in a sentence it is likely that another verb in the same sentence will be in the past subjunctive tense.

 

That concludes this lesson on the past subjunctive tense. If you have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and then try one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.

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