The Present Subjunctive Tense
Free Spanish Lessons

  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)  
    The past simple tense - irregular verbs (I was)  
    The imperfect tense - all verbs (I used to)  
    The future tense - all verbs (I will be)  
    The continuous tenses (I am going)  
    The perfect tenses - regular and irregular verbs  
    The conditional tense - regular and irregular verbs  
    The present subjunctive tense  
    The past subjunctive tense (If I were to)  
    The infinitive tense (verbs in their original forms - to be)  
    The imperative tense (command verbs - go / stay etc)  
    'Haber' with the conditional and past subjunctive tenses  
  More About Verbs  
    Reflexive verbs - Part 1  
    Reflexive verbs - Part 2  
    The 'Gerund' (the equivalent of forming 'ing...' verbs)  
    'Gustar' and similar verbs - A different way of using verbs  
Spain v Latin America
  All About Articles  
    Articles - definite / indefinite ('the' and 'a' in English)  
  All About Nouns  
    Nouns - Part 1 - (Masculine or feminine?)  
    Nouns - Part 2 - (Gender and forming plural nouns)  
  All About Adjectives  
    Adjectives - (Agreement and word order)  
    Adjectives - (Comparative and superlative)  
  All About Pronouns  
    Pronouns - object pronouns (direct / indirect)  
  Adjectives & Pronouns  
    Adjectives and Pronouns (demonstrative)  
    Adjectives and Pronouns (possessive)  
    Adjectives and pronouns (indefinite)  
  All About Adverbs  
    Adverbs - Part 1 - (words ending in -ly in English)  
    Adverbs - Part 2 - (Other forms / making comparisons)  
    An introduction to prepositions and relative pronouns  
    Prepositions - A comprehensive list with examples  
    Conjunctions - linking words  
  Questions & Negatives  
    Questions and negatives (question words)  

Learning Spanish Product Reviews
Website Reviews
Advertise Here
Advertise Here
Which language learning method best suits you?
self study
classroom learning
cultural immersion
interactive software
a mixture of all
Click here to vote
Video Lesson
Summary of Lesson
Introducing the present subjunctive tense and looking at how it is formed.
Looking at the fundamentals. Introducing the concepts of when to use the tense. Comparing the tense as used in Spanish to how it may be expressed in English.
Looking at common uses of the tense in everyday speech. When to expect it!
  What you can learn from this lesson
Being able to recognise the present subjunctive tense and understanding the basics of its formation.
Understanding why and how the tense is used. How it is used with different sentence structures.
Being able to logically translate the use of the tense in a way that makes sense in English.
To be able to predict the usage of the tense by identifying sentences, words and structures which are commonly used in conjunction with the tense.
Tell Me More Spanish
Rosetta Stone



The first part of the lesson seeks to introduce the subjunctive tense and looks at how it is formed. Often this tense is also known as the ‘present conditional’ tense. The words ‘subjunctive’ and ‘conditional’ are used in an attempt to describe how the tense is reflective of mood, desire, and the existence of doubt or potential.


A direct comparative tense like this does not exist in the English language. Of course translation is no problem, but it is less definite than the translation of other Spanish tenses and more open to judgment.


As with the other present tenses in the Spanish language the subjunctive has both regularities and irregularities. The verb endings in this tense follow a pattern which is the reverse of the simple present tense. The regular verbs hablar, comer and vivir have been used to illustrate this.


         AR verbs


personal pronoun present subjunctive present simple
  hablar (to talk/speak) hablar (to talk/speak)
yo hable hablo
hables hablas
él/ella/usted hable habla
nosotros/nosotras hablemos hablamos
vosotros/vosotras habléis habláis
ellos/ellas/ustedes hablen hablan


         ER verbs

personal pronoun present subjunctive present simple
  comer (to eat) comer (to eat)
yo coma como
comas comes
él/ella/usted coma come
nosotros/nosotras comamos comemos
vosotros/vosotras comías comíes
ellos/ellas/ustedes coman comen


         IR verbs

personal pronoun present subjunctive present simple
  vivir (to live) vivir (to live)
yo viva vivo
vivas vives
él/ella/usted viva vive
nosotros/nosotras vivamos vivimos
vosotros/vosotras vivías vivís
ellos/ellas/ustedes vivan viven



You will see from the above examples that the endings of the verbs follow this pattern.


present simple tense present subjunctive tense


AR verbs - endings with e endings with a

ER verbs - endings with a endings with e

IR verbs - endings with a endings with e


Apart from this subtle difference the tense formations are almost identical in the present simple and the subjunctive. This is also true of many of the irregular verbs too.


Unfortunately there are too, a large number of irregular verbs in the present subjunctive tense that have different stems than the same verbs in the present simple tense. Listed below are a few examples. As is often the case with verb tenses in the Spanish language, some verb formations in the present subjunctive tense have little or no patterns and need to be learnt individually! Practice recognising different verb formations by looking at verb tables section of this website.

personal pronoun dar saber ir
  (to give) (to know) (to go)
yo sepa vaya
des sepas vayas
él/ella/usted sepa vaya
nosotros/nosotras demos sepamos vayamos
vosotros/vosotras deis sepáis vayáis
ellos/ellas/ustedes den sepan vayan



If you have looked at the lessons on the ‘imperative’ tense you will recognise that some of the formations of this tense are identical to the formations we see for the present subjunctive tense. For a complete guide on using the ‘imperative’ tense take a look at the lesson on imperatives.




The second part of the lesson looks at the fundamentals of when we use the present subjunctive tense. By far the most important thing to remember is that the subjunctive tense is most commonly used with certain verbs when -


A sentence contains two verbs that are used to describe different subjects.


The best way to illustrate this is by example. Look at the following sentence:


(Yo) quiero que () comas toda tu comida. - I want you to eat all your food.

(Yo) quiero comer toda tu comida. - I want to eat all your food.


Both the above sentences contain two verbs but only the first one has two different subjects (yo and ). In this situation the subjunctive form of the verb must be used.


Where two verbs in a sentence have the same subject the infinitive form of the verb is often used. Notice that in English it doesn’t matter if the sentence has one or two subjects, the infinitive form of the second verb is still used!


Here are some other examples.


¡Él tiene miedo de que ella le diga no! - He is afraid she might say no!

¡Ella le pregunta que él trabaje hasta tarde! - She asks him to work late!


You will notice in the above examples that the first verb in both sentences is in the present simple tense. This is no coincidence. Another important point to remember is that the present subjunctive tense is usually used when:


The first verb in a sentence is in the present simple, future simple or the imperative .


Here are some more examples.


(Yo) te enseñaré que ellos puedan hacerlo. - I'll show you that they can do it

¿(Yo) asumo que ellos coman los pescados? - I assume they eat fish?

Espera hasta que él diga que ya está bien. - Wait until he says it's ok now.


In all of the above examples the first verb in the sentence is followed by the word ‘que’. Again this is not coincidence. Sentences using the subjunctive tense invariably incorporate the word ‘que’. Much of the time it follows directly after the first verb in the sentence.




The last part of the lesson looks at when the present subjunctive tense is commonly used in everyday speech. The above guidelines aim to show how sentences are formed using the tense as part of grammatical accuracy, however recognising when to use the tense can also be achieved by isolating certain situations.


When asking, telling or advising somebody to do something:


(Yo) te aconsejo no pienses tanto. - I advise you not to think too much.

Mi doctor me dice que yo coma lento. - My doctor says I should eat slowly.

¡Siempre ella me pide que yo pague! - She always asks me to pay!


In the second example above you will notice that the English translation uses the word SHOULD. If we were to translate the English sentence back into Spanish we might instead use.


           ‘Mi doctor me dice que yo debería comer lento’.


Using the present subjunctive or ‘deber’ in this way often translates to the same thing in English.


When expressing wishes or emotions:


(Yo) quiero que (tú) me digas la verdad. - I want you to tell me the truth.

Él espera que ella venga a la fiesta. - He hopes she comes to the party.

Me alegro que ellos puedan venir mañana. - I’m glad they can come tomorrow

¡(Yo) lo siento que (tú) te sientas así! - I’m sorry you feel that way!


In certain sentences where the first verb in the sentence is impersonal. So, where the verb refers to ‘it’ rather than a person ‘he’, ‘she’ etc. These often occur in sentences expressing a need to do something or where something is possible but not actual fact:


Es posible que () estés el mejor. - It is posible that you are the best.

¿Es necesario que yo tenga que ir? - It is necessary for me to go?


After verbs that are used to express what you think about something, but only in the negative form using NO, or to express uncertainty or doubt:


(Yo) no creo que las arañas sean feas. - I don't think spiders are ugly.

¡Él duda que yo pueda ganar la carrera! - He doubts that I can win the race


When joining two sentences together using phrases with ‘que’:


Para que (so that) (Yo) estoy gritando para que (tú) me ayudes - I'm shouting so that you help me.

Antes de que (before) ¡Vete antes de que se empeoren! - Go, before it gets worse

Sin que(without) ¡Vamos sin que él nos vea! - Lets go without him seeing us!


Frequently, but not always the present subjunctive is used after the word ‘cuando’ (when). If these same sentences were questions then the present simple tense would be used.


Cuando (tú) vengas. - When, or whenever you come.

Cuando () pienses. - When, or whenever you think.

Cuando él quiera. - When, or whenever he wants.

Cuando se vayan. - When, or whenever they leave.


In all of the examples used in this lesson that have sentences with two verbs and two different subjects the present subjunctive tense is used. It is important to remember this, even though often it is possible to identify when the tense may be used through typical word usage or conversation!


Verbs in the present subjunctive tense are never used in a sentence directly after the word si (if). The word si however, is commonly used before verbs in the imperfect subjunctive tense. This and much more about the imperfect subjunctive is discussed in another lesson.


That concludes this lesson on the present 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.

The Present Subjunctive Tense
Recent Blog Posts