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How to Conjugate Verbs in the Present Subjunctive in Spanish

The present subjunctive in Spanish is one of the many verb tenses in the Spanish subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is one of three moods in Spanish (the indicative, the imperative, and the subjunctive) that indicates the presence of doubt, emotion, or subjectivity, in contrast to the indicative, which states facts. The focus of today's lesson will be the conjugation of the Spanish present subjunctive tense. 

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An Example of the Present Subjunctive in Spanish: 

Before going on to conjugation, let's see an example of the present subjunctive in Spanish, which typically appears after the present indicative in dependent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction such as que (that). As a simple example, if you say, "I hope [that] you practice at home" with ustedes (plural you) in Spanish, the correct manner of doing so would be: 

 

espero que practiquen en su casa

I hope you guys practice at home

Caption 60, Lecciones de guitarra Con Cristhian - Part 3

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Rather than espero que practican en su casa because the verb tense changes from the indicative (practican) to the subjunctive (practiquen) due to the "hope" regarding whether the action will take place. In another lesson, we will explore the many scenarios in which the Spanish subjunctive mood comes into play. 

 

Conjugating Verbs in the Present Subjunctive in Spanish

The first step in conjugating most verbs in the present subjunctive is to recall the present indicative yo (I) form of the verb. We then remove the -o in order to get the stem and add the corresponding endings for -ar and -er/-ir verbs, which we can think of as the "opposite" of the endings for each verb class in the present indicative. 

 

Let's use the aforementioned formula to get the stems for three of the most common regular verbs:

 

Verb Yo Form Stem
hablar (to speak) hablo habl-
comer (to eat) como com-
subir (to go up) subo sub-

 

 

 

 

Now, let's look at the present subjunctive endings for -ar vs. -er/-ir verbs: 

 

Personal Pronoun: -ar Verbs: -er/-ir Verbs:
yo -e -a
-es -as
él/ella/usted -e -a
nosotros/as -emos -amos
vosotros/as -éis -áis
ellos/ellas/ustedes -en -an

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armed with this information, we can easily conjugate these verbs in the present subjunctive in Spanish. You will note that in the present subjunctive, the yo form and the él/ella/usted form are exactly the same.

 

Personal Pronoun: hablar: comer: subir:
yo hable coma suba
hables comas subas
él/ella/usted hable coma suba
nosotros/as hablemos comamos subamos
vosotros/as habléis comåis subáis
ellos/ellas/ustedes hablen coman suban

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, let's see these Spanish present subjunctive verbs in action:

 

Porque quiero que hablemos de negocios.

Because I want us to talk about business.

Caption 3, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 6

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¿'tas listo? -¿Qué querés que yo coma lo mismo?

You ready? -What, do you want me to eat the same thing?

Caption 43, Factor Fobia Cucarachas - Part 1

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Dígale que no suba.

Tell him not to come up.

Caption 43, Muñeca Brava 33 El partido - Part 6

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Verbs with Spelling Changes in the Indicative Yo Form 

Note that the in the vast majority of cases, even verbs with spelling changes in the yo form will follow this very same formula for obtaining their stems/conjugations. Let's see several examples:

 

Verb Yo Form  Stem
caber quepo quep-
coger cojo coj-
conocer conozco conozc-
decir digo dig-
hacer hago hag-
poner pongo pong-
salir salgo salg-
tener tengo teng-
traer traigo traig-
ver veo ve-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Present Subjunctive Conjugations:

caber (to fit): quepa, quepas, quepa, quepamos, quepáis, quepan

coger (to take): coja, cojas, coja, cojamos, cojáis, cojan

conocer (to know): conozca, conozcas, conozca, conozcamos, conozcáis, conozcan

decir (to say): diga, digas, diga, digamos, digáis, digan

hacer (to make/do): haga, hagas, haga, hagamos, hagáis, hagan

poner (to put): ponga, pongas, ponga, pongamos, pongáis, pongan

salir (to go out): salga, salgas, salga, salgamos, salgáis, salgan

tener (to have): tenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tengáis, tengan

traer (to bring): traiga, traigas, traiga, traigamos, traigáis, traigan

ver (to see): vea, veas, vea, veamos, veáis, vean

 

We will now hear a couple of these in context:

 

Lo mejor es que tengan sala de estudio

The best thing is for them to have a study room

Caption 45, Club de las ideas La biblioteca

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Bueno, te invito ahora a que conozcas el teatro.

Well, now I invite you to see the theater.

Caption 24, El teatro. Conversación con un doble de acción.

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Stem-Changing Verbs in the Spanish Present Subjunctive

Let's examine several categories of stem-changing verbs that behave slightly differently in the present subjunctive in Spanish:

 

1. -E to -ie in -ar and -er Verbs

An example of this category is querer (to want), for which the yo form is quiero. While the stem for this verb is indeed quier- as usual, the stem change does not take place in the nosotros/as and vosotros/as forms, which use the stem of the infinitive (removing the -ar or -er) as follows: 

 

quiera, quieras, quiera, queramos, queráis, quieran.

 

Additional verbs that fall into this category include: cerrar (to close), entender (to understand), and perder (to lose).

 

2. -O to -ue in -ar and -er Verbs

One example is volver (to return), and the yo form is vuelvo. The stem for this verb is vuelv-, but as with the previous category, there is no stem change in the nosotros/as and vosotros/as forms, which also take the stem from the infinitive:

 

vuelva, vuelvas, vuelva, volvamos, volváis, vuelvan

 

Some other verbs in this category are: poder (to be able), contar (to tell), volver (to return), and encontrar (to find).

 

3. -E to -ie in -ir Verbs

An example would be sentir (to feel). As in the first category, these verbs change stems in all forms except for nosotros/as and vosotros/as. With -ir verbs, however, the -ie changes to an -i, as follows: 

 

sienta, sientas, sienta, sintamos, sintáis, sientan

 

Verbs that work similarly include repetir (to repeat) and preferir (to prefer).

 

4. -O to -ue in -ir Verbs

The verb dormir (to sleep) falls into this category in which verbs change stems in all forms except nosotros/as and vosotros/as, where the -o changes to a -u

 

duerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis, duerman

 

The verb morir (to die) also belongs to this class of verbs. 

 

Examples:

Let's listen to a couple of examples of such stem-changing verbs in the present subjunctive in Spanish:

 

lo mejor sería que vuelvas al convento.

the best thing would be for you to return to the convent.

Caption 15, Muñeca Brava 33 El partido - Part 7

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Espero que ahora entiendan mejor

I hope that you now understand better

Caption 56, Carlos explica Diminutivos y Aumentativos Cap 2: Definiciones generales

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Spelling Changes in the Spanish Present Subjunctive

To make matters a bit more complicated, some verbs in the Spanish present subjunctive change spelling in order to maintain their pronunciation, and some verbs change both stems and spelling! Let's take a look at these additional verb categories.

 

1. Verbs ending in -ger and -gir

It is worth noting that the g in verbs ending in -ger and -gir changes to ain the Spanish present subjunctive, for example, in the aforementioned verb coger (to get). However, this doesn't really deviate from our formula since the present indicative yo form of coger is cojo. Other verbs that follow this pattern in Spanish include corregir (to correct), elegir (to choose), and recoger (to pick up).

 

corregir: corrija, corrijas, corrija, corrijamos, corrijáis, corrijan

elegir: elija, elijas, elija, elijamos, elijáis, elijan

recoger: recoja, recojas, recoja, recojamos, recojáis, recojan

 

2. Verbs ending in -car, -gar, and -zar

In the Spanish present subjunctive, verbs ending in -car change their final consonant to -qu, verbs ending in -gar change to -gu, and -zar verbs' changes to a c. Let's take a look at verbs in each of these categories:

 

sacar (to take out): saque, saques, saque, saquemos, saquéis, saquen

tocar (to take): toque, toques, toque, toquemos, toquéis, toquen

 

cargar (to charge): cargue, cargues, cargue, carguemos, carguéis, carguen

pagar (to pay): pague, pagues, pague, paguemos, paguéis, paguen

 

lanzar (to throw): lance, lances, lance, lancemos, lancéis, lancen

empezar (to start): empiece, empieces, empiece, empecemos, empecéis, empiecen

 

As you can see, the verb empezar changes both stems (-e to -ie) and its final consonant (z to c) in the Spanish present subjunctive.

 

Examples:

Let's hear some examples of verbs with spelling changes in the Spanish present subjunctive:

 

Es que no necesito que me recojas hoy. 

It's just that I don't need you to pick me up today.

Caption 52, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 9 - Part 6

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Bueno, ¿tú me aconsejas que comience a escribir ya con todas estas inquietudes que tengo?

Well, do you advise me to start writing now with all these concerns that I have?

Captions 68-69, Escribiendo un libro Algunos consejos sobre cómo comenzar - Part 2

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(Totally) Irregular Verbs in the Present Subjunctive in Spanish

Although you have seen that there are a lot of nuances to conjugating verbs in the present subjunctive in Spanish, there are only six verbs that are considered truly irregular. We have provided their conjugations here: 

 

Personal Pronoun: dar estar haber ir ser saber
yo esté haya vaya sea sepa
des estés hayas vayas seas sepas
él/ella/usted esté haya vaya sea sepa
nosotros/as demos estemos hayamos vayamos seamos sepamos
vosotros/as deis estéis hayáis vayáis seáis sepáis
ellos/ellas/ustedes den estén hayan vayan sean sepan

 

Note that the yo and él/ella/usted conjugations of the verb dar, has an accent on the to distinguish it from the preposition de (of/from). 

 

Let's conclude by hearing a couple of these irregular verbs in the Spanish present subjunctive in action: 

 

Espero que sea una bonita sorpresa.

I hope that it's a nice surprise.

Caption 11, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 8

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Dígame algo que no sepa.

Tell me something I don't know.

Caption 3, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 7 - Part 4

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And speaking of learning new things, we hope you've found this lesson on conjugating verbs in the Spanish present subjunctive helpful! To hear a bunch more verbs conjugated in the Spanish present subjunctive, we recommend this video on Subjunctivo y sentimientos (Subjuntive and Feelings), and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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