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What is the present subjunctive mood in Spanish?

The present subjunctive in Spanish is not a tense, but rather a mood. A mood conveys a speaker's attitude and feeling toward a statement or an action.



How is the subjunctive used?

The subjunctive is used to express desires, emotions, recommendations, doubt, and denial; with certain impersonal expressions; and with ojalá: "I doubt Miguel is in Spain" --> Dudo que Miguel esté en España.



What is the indicative mood?

The indicative is used to refer to objective reality, factual statements, and declarations. Most of what you've learned so far has been in the indicative: "Miguel is in Spain (as far as I know)" --> Miguel está en España.



What are the endings of regular present subjunctive -ar verbs?

Regular present subjunctive -ar endings: -e (yo) -es (tú) -e (él) -emos (nosotros) -éis (vosotros) -en (ellos). Simply strip the -ar ending off of any regular infinitive and apply the above endings.



She hopes that I speak

Ella espera que yo hable

that I speak (present subjunctive) - que yo hable. In this example, the subject is expressing a wish or desire (volition), which calls for the subjunctive.


I want you to speak with her tomorrow

Quiero que tú hables con ella mañana

that you speak (present subjunctive) - que tú hables. This sentence is also expressing volition—to want. This translates literally as "I want that you speak with her tomorrow," though it sounds a bit strange since the subjunctive is uncommon in English.


His aunt prefers that he speak to her over the phone

Su tía prefiere que él le hable por teléfono

that he/she speak (present subjunctive) - que él/ella/Ud hable. Note that the subjunctive is employed here in English, too, so the verb in English changes accordingly: "he speaks" (indicative mood); "that he speak" (subjunctive mood).


The child demands his food when he's hungry

El niño exige su comida cuando tiene hambre

to demand - exigir


Our teacher demands that we speak in class

Nuestra maestra exige que hablemos en clase

that we speak (present subjunctive) - que nosotros hablemos. Demands require the use of the subjunctive.


I prefer that you all speak to your teachers about your homework

Prefiero que habléis con vuestros maestros sobre la tarea

that you all speak (present subjunctive) - que vosotros habléis


I want them to walk home after the lesson

Quiero que caminen a casa después de la lección

that they walk (present subjunctive) - que ellos/ellas/Uds caminen


What are the endings of regular present subjunctive -er and -ir verbs?

Regular present subjunctive -er and -ir endings: -a (yo) -as (tú) -a (él) -amos (nosotros) -áis (vosotros) -an (ellos). Simply strip the -er or -ir ending off of any regular infinitive, and apply the above endings.



My girlfriend wants me to eat with her friends tonight

Mi novia quiere que yo coma con sus amigas esta noche

that I eat (present subjunctive) - que yo coma. The subject of this sentence, mi novia, is expressing an expectation, which calls for the subjunctive in Spanish.


It's a shame

Es una lástima

It's a shame - Es una lástima. When this expression is followed by que, the subjunctive is required.


It's a shame that you won't eat the food

Es una lástima que no comas la comida

that you eat (present subjunctive) - que tú comas. In this example, the subject is expressing lament. When conveying feelings and emotions—anger, happiness, fear, or surprise—the subjunctive is used.


I'm happy that the child eats so much

Estoy feliz de que el niño coma tanto

that he/she eat (present subjunctive) - que él/ella/Ud coma. Reactions that express a subjective opinion or judgement require the subjunctive.


It's good that we're eating fruits and vegetables today

Es bueno que comamos frutas y vegetales hoy

that we eat (present subjunctive) - que nosotros comamos. The impersonal expression "It's good that," es bueno que, should be followed by the subjunctive.


I'm sorry that you (vosotros) aren't eating these delicious desserts

Siento que no comáis estos ricos postres

that you all eat (present subjunctive) - que vosotros comáis. In this example, "I'm sorry that" is an impersonal expression that requires the use of the subjunctive.


I want the kids to eat dinner before dessert

Quiero que los niños coman la cena antes del postre

that they eat (present subjunctive) - que ellos/ellas/Uds coman. This example uses the subjunctive after an expression of desire, quiero que.


My teacher wants me to write an essay

Mi maestra quiere que yo escriba un ensayo


It's incredible that you're writing so much in Spanish!

¡Es increíble que escribas tanto en español!

that you write (present subjunctive) - que tú escribas. Impersonal expressions like es increíble que require the use of the subjunctive.


It's strange that he's writing at this hour

Es raro que él escriba a esta hora

that he/she write (present subjunctive) - que él/ella/Ud escriba. Impersonal expressions like es raro que require the use of the subjunctive. Note that because yo and él share the same present subjunctive form, it is wise to include the subject pronoun to avoid ambiguity.


My sister surprised me with a gift

Mi hermana me sorprendió con un regalo

to surprise - sorprender


I'm surprised that we don't write to each other more

Me sorprende que no nos escribamos más

that we write (present subjunctive) - que nosotros escribamos. Surprise, considered an expression of emotion, requires the use of the subjunctive.


I don't think that you all write so poorly

No creo que escribáis tan mal

that you all write (present subjunctive) - que vosotros escribáis. No creo is an expression of doubt, and therefore requires the use of the subjunctive.


He gets upset by any little thing

Él se enoja por cualquier cosa

to get upset, get angry - enojar


It upsets me that they write such terrible essays

Me enoja que escriban ensayos tan terribles

that they write (present subjunctive) - que ellos/ellas/uds escriban. Anger, considered an expression of emotion, requires the use of the subjunctive.


You shouldn't doubt yourself

No deberías dudar de ti mismo

to doubt - dudar. Note that the expression in Spanish is dudar de sí mismo --> "to doubt (in) oneself"


I doubt that he studies that much

Dudo que él estudie tanto

To express doubt, denial, or probability, use the subjunctive mood. Therefore, dudo que must be followed by the subjunctive. Also note the third-person singular conjugation of estudiar in the present subjunctive.


Can you recommend a good wine?

¿Me puedes recomendar un buen vino?

to recommend - recomendar. Note that "to me" is implied in the English phrase "Can you recommend," though in Spanish you must include the indirect object pronoun me.


I recommend that you drink more water

Recomiendo que bebas más agua

Recommendations, suggestions, and demands require the use of the subjunctive. The construction recomendar que should thus be followed by the subjunctive.


I suggest a red wine with dinner

Sugiero un vino rojo con la cena

to suggest - sugerir. Recall that sugerir is an e to ie stem-changing verb.


So you suggest that I speak faster?

¿Entonces, sugieres que yo hable más rápido?

The construction sugerir que requires the subjunctive.


I hope to God (that) it doesn't rain today

Ojalá que no llueva hoy

Hopefully, I hope to God that - ojalá que. Ojalá que, which comes from the Arabic for "may God will it," is a common expression denoting hope. It is followed by the subjunctive.


Which verbs are irregular in the present subjunctive?

There are only six irregular verbs in the subjunctive, and their forms must be memorized in order to be used correctly. The six verbs are estar, ser, haber, ir, saber, dar.



TO BE (ser) (Present Subjunctive)

  • that I be
  • that you be
  • that he/she be
  • that we be
  • that you all be
  • that they be

SER (Presente de Subjuntivo)

  • que yo sea
  • que tú seas
  • que él/ella/Ud sea
  • que nosotros seamos
  • que vosotros seáis
  • que ellos/ellas sean



My girlfriend wants me to be a happy person

Mi novia quiere que yo sea feliz

that I be (present subjunctive) - que yo sea. Remember that this is a desire, so the subjunctive is used. Also note that estar feliz means "to be happy now" and ser feliz means "to be happy generally / to be a happy person."


TO BE (estar) (Present Subjunctive)

  • that I be
  • that you be
  • that he/she be
  • that we be
  • that you all be
  • that they be

ESTAR (Presente de Subjuntivo)

  • que yo esté
  • que tú estés
  • que él/ella/Ud esté
  • que nosotros estemos
  • que vosotros estéis
  • que ellos/ellas estén



I'm sorry that you're sick

Siento que estés enfermo

that you be (present subjunctive) - que tú estés. Remember that this is an expression of emotion, so the subjunctive is used. Also note that while it sounds strange, "that I be" is an example of the subjunctive in English: "The memo requires that I be here on time" --> El memo requiere que yo esté aquí a tiempo. Compare with the more common phrase: "The memo says to be here on time."


TO HAVE, THERE IS/ARE (Present Subjunctive)

  • that I have
  • that you have
  • that he/she have
  • that we have
  • that you all have
  • that they have

HABER (Presente de Subjuntivo)

  • que yo haya
  • que tú hayas
  • que él/ella/Ud haya
  • que nosotros hayamos
  • que vosotros hayáis
  • que ellos/ellas hayan



I don't think that there are people in that room

No pienso que haya gente en ese cuarto

that there be / are- que haya


I hope that they've already eaten

Espero que ya hayan comido

that they have eaten - que hayan comido. Haber is used as a helping verb in the past perfect subjunctive, just like it is in the past perfect indicative.


TO GO (Present subjunctive)

  • that I go
  • that you go
  • that he/she go
  • that we go
  • that you all go
  • that they go

IR (Presente de Subjuntivo)

  • que yo vaya
  • que tú vayas
  • que él/ella/Ud vaya
  • que nosotros vayamos
  • que vosotros vayáis
  • que ellos/ellas vayan

Note the similarity to haber in conjugation.


I suggest that we go to the store before 10PM

Sugiero que vayamos a la tienda antes de las diez

that we go - que nosotros vayamos. Remember that suggestions and recommendations take the subjunctive.


TO KNOW (Present Subjunctive)

  • that I know
  • that you know
  • that he/she know
  • that we know
  • that you all know
  • that they know

SABER (Presente de Subjuntivo)

  • que yo sepa
  • que tú sepas
  • que él/ella/Ud sepa
  • que nosotros sepamos
  • que vosotros sepáis
  • que ellos/ellas sepan



It's important that you all know how to speak Spanish

Es importante que sepáis hablar español

that you all know - que vosotros sepáis. Remember that impersonal phrases like "it's important that," es importante que, as a rule, take the subjunctive.


TO GIVE (Present Subjunctive)

  • that I give
  • that you give
  • that he/she give
  • that we give
  • that you all give
  • that they give

DAR (Presente de Subjuntivo)

  • que yo dé
  • que tú des
  • que él/ella/Ud dé
  • que nosotros demos
  • que vosotros deis
  • que ellos/ellas den



My brother wants me to give him the money

Mi hermano quiere que yo le  el dinero

that I give - que yo dé. The accent in is used to distinguish it from de, "of." is pronounced with slightly more force than its accentless counterpart.


I don't doubt that she speaks Spanish well

No dudo que ella habla bien español

I don't doubt that - no dudo que. Note the expression "I don't doubt that" must be followed by the indicative, instead of the subjunctive. This is because it essentially expresses certainty.


I think that my brother is sick

Pienso que mi hermano está enfermo

Note that the construction pensar que is followed by the indicative.


I don't think that my brother is sick

No pienso que mi hermano esté enfermo

Note that the construction no pensar que is followed by the subjunctive because it denotes doubt or uncertainty.