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Forming the present subjunctive in Spanish

On the previous page, we discussed briefly what the subjunctive is. Spanish actually has a present subjunctive and a past subjunctive, and we'll look at the present subjunctive forms here.

The forms of the present subjunctive in Spanish are generally easy if you're familiar with the "ordinary" present tense (often technically called the present indicative). The present subjunctive is generally based on the present indicative as follows:

  • if the verb is an -ar verb, the present subjunctive endings start with an e vowel (instead of a): pregunta > pregunte; preguntamos > preguntemos;
  • for -er and -ir, this rule is "reversed", and the present subjunctive endings have an a vowel (whereas the "normal" present tense would have e or i): come > coma; comemos > comamos; partimos > partamos;
  • if the verb has an irregular present tense yo form, then this generally forms the basis of the subjunctive (salgo > salga, salgamos);
  • there are just a couple of completely irregular subjunctives (e.g. dar > ; ir > vaya).

Example conjugations

Below are the verbs esperar and comer in the present subjunctive:

PersonSubjunctive formExample sentence
yoesperequiere que espere
he/she wants me to wait
esperesquiere que esperes
he/she wants you to wait
él/ellaesperequiero que espere
I want him/he to wait
nosotros, -asesperemosquiere que esperemos
he/she wants us to wait
vosotros, -asesperéisquiere que esperéis
he/she wants you to wait
ellos/ellasesperenquiere que esperen
I want them to wait
PersonSubjunctive formExample sentence
yocomaquiere que coma
he/she wants me to eat
comasquiere que comas
he/she wants you to eat
él/ellacomaquiero que coma
I want him/he to eat
nosotros, -ascomamosquiere que comamos
he/she wants us to eat
vosotros, -ascomáisquiere que comáis
he/she wants you to eat
ellos/ellascomanquiere que coman
I want them to eat

Next: practise the present subjunctive

On the next page is an exercise allowing you to practise the present subjunctive of regular verbs.

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