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.