Spanish Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive functions much like the present indicative time-wise except it deals with situations of doubt, desire, emotion, and is generally subjective while the present indicative is true, real, and objective. In some cases, it can also refer to the future. If you are familiar with all the spelling-changes, stem-changes, and irregular verbs in the yo form of the indicative, then you already know most of the spelling-changes, stem-changes, and irregular verbs in the subjunctive, too. For specifics on when to use the subjunctive instead of the indicative, see the article on subjunctive vs. indicative.

To conjugate a verb in the present subjunctive, you must first remember what the present indicative yo form is. In the present subjunctive, instead of forming a stem from the infinitive, the stem is formed from the yo form of the present indicative. For many verbs, this will be the same as the infinitive stem, but for many others (all the spelling-changes, stem-changing, and irregulars), it will be different.

How to Find the Present Subjunctive Stem

  • present subjunctive stem = yo form of present indicative -o ending
InfinitiveYo Present IndicativePresent Subjunctive Stem
caber
 
quepo
 
quep-
caer
 
caigo
 
caig-
conocer
 
conozco
 
conozc-
hacer
 
hago
 
hag-
lucir
 
luzco
 
luzc-
parecer
 
parezco
 
parezc-
poner
 
pongo
 
pong-
querer
 
quiero
 
quier-
tener
 
tengo
 
teng-
traer
 
traigo
 
traig-
valer
 
valgo
 
valg-
ver
 
veo
 
ve-

If the stem is irregular in the yo form of the present indicative, the subjunctive will maintain this “irregularity” throughout all of its conjugations (including all stem-changing -ir verbs).

Regular Present Subjunctive Endings

To the end of this new stem, add the appropriate ending depending on the subject of the verb and infinitive ending of the verb. There are only two ending sets for the present subjunctive: one for -ar verbs and one for both -er and -ir verbs.

Subject-AR Verbs-ER and -IR Verbs
yo-e-a
-es-as
usted, él, ella-e-a
nosotros-emos-amos
vosotros-éis-áis
ustedes, ellos, ellas-en-an
  • Note that -ar endings in the present subjunctive are the same as -er endings in the present indicative except in the yo form.
  • -Er and -ir endings in the present subjunctive are the same as -ar endings in the present indicative as well except in the yo form.
Subjecthablar (habl-)tener (teng-)vivir (viv-)
yo
hable
 
tenga
 
viva
 
hables
 
tengas
 
vivas
 
usted, él, ella
hable
 
tenga
 
viva
 
nosotros
hablemos
 
tengamos
 
vivamos
 
vosotros
habléis
 
tengáis
 
viváis
 
ustedes, ellos, ellas
hablen
 
tengan
 
vivan
 

Irregular Present Subjunctive Verbs

There are only six truly irregular verbs in the subjunctive. All other "irregulars" are only irregular in the stem or in spelling (see below.)

Subjectdarestarhaberirsaberser
yo
 
esté
 
haya
 
vaya
 
sepa
 
sea
 
des
 
estés
 
hayas
 
vayas
 
sepas
 
seas
 
usted, él, ella
 
esté
 
haya
 
vaya
 
sepa
 
sea
 
nosotros
demos
 
estemos
 
hayamos
 
vayamos
 
sepamos
 
seamos
 
vosotros
deis
 
estéis
 
hayáis
 
vayáis
 
sepáis
 
seáis
 
ustedes, ellos, ellas
den
 
estén
 
hayan
 
vayan
 
sepan
 
sean
 

Tildes Mean A Lot!

The tilde on is used to distinguish it from the preposition de, unless a pronoun is attached to the end as with deme (give me), where it is omitted.

Stem Changes in the Present Subjunctive

1. E to IE and O to UE stem-changing -AR and -ER verbs

All e-ie and o-ue stem-changing -AR and -ER verbs in the present indicative follow the same rules in the present subjunctive: all forms follow the stem change except for nosotros and vosotros (these use the infinitive stem).

  • volar - vuele, vueles, vuele, volemos, voléis, vuelen
  • querer - quiera, quieras, quiera, queramos, queráis, quieran

2. E to IE and O to UE stem-changing -IR verbs

All e-ie and o-ue stem-changing -IR verbs in the present indicative follow the same rules in the present subjunctive except the nosotros and vosotros forms where the -e changes to -i and the -o changes to -u.

  • preferir - prefiera, prefieras, prefiera, prefiramos, prefiráis, prefieran
  • dormir - duerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis, duerman

3. E to I stem-changing -IR verbs

All e-i stem-changing -IR verbs in the present indicative maintain the stem-change in all forms.

  • pedir - pida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan
  • servir - sirva, sirvas, sirva, sirvamos, sirváis, sirvan

Spelling changes

All spelling changes in the preterite indicative are maintained in the present subjunctive. This is to maintain pronunciation of the infinitive.

All verbs ending in -ger and -gir change the -g to a -j in all forms.

  • escoger - escoja, escojas, escoja, escojamos, escojáis, escojan
  • exigir - exija, exijas, exija, exijamos, exijáis, exijan

All verbs ending in -car, -gar, and -zar change to -qu, -gu, and -c, respectively.

  • explicar - explique, expliques, explique, expliquemos, expliquéis, expliquen
  • llegar - llegue, llegues, llegue, lleguemos, lleguéis, lleguen
  • empezar - empiece, empieces, empiece, empecemos, empecéis, empiecen

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