The Present Subjunctive: How?

       

This page only deals with how to conjugate in the present subjunctive. To learn when to use the present subjunctive, see The Present Subjunctive: When?

Regular Present Subjunctive Verbs

To conjugate a verb in the present tense subjunctive mood, we're going to do something a little weird. First we conjugate in the present tense indicative yo form, then we drop the "-o" ending, and then we add the following endings:

"-ar" endings:

"-er" / "-ir" endings:

-e

-emos

-es

-éis

-e

-en

-a

-amos

-as

-áis

-a

-an

Note: Because the yo form and él/ella/Ud. forms are identical, it is a good idea to include the subject pronoun yo to avoid confusion: Juan quiere que yo participe también.

Take a look at the endings. You may notice they look very similar to the present tense indicative endings except that they've been switched; what look like "-er" endings are now used for "-ar" verbs, and what look like "-ar" endings are now the endings of both "-er" and "-ir" verbs. Notice, however, that there is no "-o" ending for the yo form.

Some conjugation examples:

hablar:

comer:

vivir:

hable

hablemos

hables

habléis

hable

hablen

coma

comamos

comas

comáis

coma

coman

viva

vivamos

vivas

viváis

viva

vivan

And some examples in context:

viajar → viajo → viaj-

Me alegro que ella viaje a otros países.
I'm happy that she travels to other countries.

correr → corro → corr-

Esperamos que tú corras rápidamente.
We hope that you run fast.

escribir → escribo → escrib-

Ellos dudan que escribamos novelas.
They doubt that we write novels.

Based on these examples, you might be tempted to shorten the procedure a bit to just "remove the infinitive ending and add the subjunctive ending" but that doesn't always work. Consider:

tener → tengo → teng-

Es necesario que tú tengas tu tarea contigo.
It is necessary that you have your homework with you.

decir → digo → dig-

¡Quiero que ustedes me digan la verdad!
I want you to tell me the truth!

conocer → conozco → conozc-

Es importante que tú conozcas bien a tus amigos.
It is important that you know your friends well.

Because there are "-go" verbs and "-zco" verbs and many other verbs with unusual yo form conjugations, you must follow the rule: first conjugate in the yo form, then drop the "-o", and then add the appropriate ending. Verbs with irregular yo form keep that irregularity in all of the present subjunctive forms. Some examples:

ofrecer:

hacer:

influir:

ofrezca

ofrezcamos

ofrezcas

ofrezcáis

ofrezca

ofrezcan

haga

hagamos

hagas

hagáis

haga

hagan

influya

influyamos

influyas

influyáis

influya

influyan

And don't forget about other verbs with yo form spelling changes like these:

-cer/-cir verbs:

-ger/-gir verbs:

-guir verbs:

-quir verbs:

vencer → venzo → venza, etc.

dirigir → dirijo → dirija, etc.

distinguir → distingo → distinga, etc.

relinquir → relinco → relinca, etc.

Let's practice! Conjugate regular present subjunctive verbs on ¡Practiquemos!

Spelling Changes

As you may recall from the preterite, switching "-a" endings with "-e" endings causes some pronunciation problems that need to be resolved by changing the spelling of the stem. The verbs we need to pay attention to are the usual suspects:

-car verbs:
-gar verbs:
-zar verbs:
-guar verbs:

cqu
ggu
zc
uü

Some examples:

Es necesario que indiques tu preferencia.
Es importante que lleguemos temprano.
Ellos quieren que yo almuerce a las doce.

In the first two sentences above, if we didn't change the spellings we'd be left with "indices" and "llegemos" and the pronunciation of their stems would no longer be consistent with their infinitive forms, indicar and llegar. In the case of "almuerce," anytime we can use a "c" instead of a "z," we should.

They are fairly infrequent, but you also need to keep an eye open for "-guar" verbs. They will need a "u → ü" spelling change. For example, atestiguar ("to testify"):

La policía espera que él atestigüe.

In order to keep the "gw" sound, we need to use a "ü" (rather than a "u") once we switch from an "-a" ending to an "-e" ending.

Let's practice! Conjugate present subjunctive spelling changers on ¡Practiquemos!

Stem Changers

All "-ar" and "-er" verbs that have a stem change in the indicative will also have a stem change in the subjunctive. That stem change will follow the same pattern as the indicative, which is to say that the stem will not change in the nosotros or vosotros forms.

contar (o→ue):

perder (e→ie):

cuente

contemos

cuentes

contéis

cuente

cuenten

pierda

perdamos

pierdas

perdáis

pierda

pierdan

On the other hand, the stems of "-ir" stem-changing verbs will have an additional change in the nosotros and vosotros forms. Stem-changing "o→ue" verbs will also have an "o→u" change; stem-changing "e→ie" verbs will also have an "e→i" change; and stem-changing "e→i" verbs will have an "e→i" change throughout the conjugations.

Note: These additional stem changes for "-ir" stem-changing verbs are the same as the ones you see in the present participle and preterite conjugations: durmiendo, sintieron, etc.

dormir (o→ue, o→u):

sentir (e→ie, e→i):

pedir (e→i, e→i):

duerma

durmamos

duermas

durmáis

duerma

duerman

sienta

sintamos

sientas

sintáis

sienta

sientan

pida

pidamos

pidas

pidáis

pida

pidan

Let's practice! Conjugate present subjunctive stem changers on ¡Practiquemos!

Irregular Present Subjunctive Verbs

It wouldn't be any fun if there weren't irregulars, right? In the case of the present subjunctive, there's good reason for them. If you know that we first conjugate in the yo form, and then drop the "-o" ending, what do you do with these verbs: dar, estar, ir, saber, and ser? None of their yo forms end in "-o" (doy, estoy, voy, , and soy). Because of that, each of these verbs is completely irregular.

dar:

estar:

ir:

demos

des

deis

den

esté

estemos

estés

estéis

esté

estén

vaya

vayamos

vayas

vayáis

vaya

vayan

saber:

ser:

sepa

sepamos

sepas

sepáis

sepa

sepan

sea

seamos

seas

seáis

sea

sean

Notice that the accent marks on all of these verbs are consistent with their indicative conjugations with the one exception. In the case of dar, the yo and él/ella/Ud. forms add what looks to be an unnecessary accent mark. The reason for this accent is to distinguish the verb conjugation, from the preposition, de.

That takes care of the present tense, but remember that the subjunctive is a mood, which means we can also use it in other tenses as well. So what else do we need to know? See The Imperfect Subjunctive: How? and Other Tenses in the Subjunctive Mood.

Let's practice! Conjugate irregular present subjunctive verbs on ¡Practiquemos!

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