Present Subjunctive in Spanish Grammar

What is the present subjunctive?

The present subjunctive (el presente de subjuntivo) is used to refer to the future as well as the present.

Read on to learn how to use the present subjunctive in Spanish grammar. Master the conjugation, then put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises. If you want to refresh your knowledge about the subjunctive mood in general, check out our page on the difference between the Spanish indicative and the subjunctive.

Example

Zeichnung

Ojalá gane en el bingo esta tarde.

A mi amiga Catalina le encanta que sea tan positiva.

Quiero que Catalina haga un viaje de mochileras conmigo el próximo verano.

Aún no sabemos el destino, pero es posible que recorramos toda Europa.

Nuestros amigos recomiendan que reservemos Italia para el final.

Si ahorramos suficiente dinero, es posible que en junio ya podamos comenzar la aventura.

How to form the present subjunctive

Regular verbs

To conjugate regular verbs in the present subjunctive, we remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, -ir) and add -e, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en to -ar verbs and -a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an to -er/-ir verbs.

Person Ending -ar
hablar
Ending -er
aprender
-ir
vivir
yo -e hable -a aprenda viva
-es hables -as aprendas vivas
él, ella, usted -e hable -a aprenda viva
nosotros/-as -emos hablemos -amos aprendamos vivamos
vosotros/-as -éis habléis -áis aprendáis viváis
ellos/-as, ustedes -en hablen -an aprendan vivan

Tip

In the present subjunctive, the endings for -ar verbs start with e and the endings for -er/-ir verbs start with a.

Example:
ganar → Ojalá gane en el bingo esta tarde.Hopefully I win the at the bingo tonight.

Irregular verbs

Some verbs are irregular in the present subjunctive.

Verbs Conjugation
caber quepa, quepas, quepa, quepamos, quepáis, quepan
dar dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den
estar esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén
haber* haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan
ir vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan
saber sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan
ser sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean
ver
vea, veas, vea, veamos, veáis, vean

*In the present, the verb haber can only be used in the 3rd person singular in impersonal sentences: Espero que haya palomitas.I hope that there is popcorn.

Stem-changing verbs

Some verbs change the final vowel in their stem in their present subjunctive form.

Stem Change Example Verb Conjugation
(yo, tú, él, nosotros, vosotros, ellos)
Other Verbs
e → i pedir pida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan conseguir, corregir, elegir, perseguir, reír, sonreír, seguir, servir
e → ie/e querer quiera, quieras, quiera, queramos, queráis, quieran calentar, cerrar, encender, entender, empezar, pensar, perder, regar
e → ie/i sentir sienta, sientas, sienta, sintamos, sintáis, sientan divertir, preferir, mentir
o → ue/o poder pueda, puedas, pueda, podamos, podáis, puedan cocer, contar, costar, doler, encontrar, llover, mover, morir, oler, recordar, sonar, soñar, volar, volver
o → ue/u dormir duerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis, duerman morir
u → ue/u jugar juegue, juegues, juegue, juguemos, juguéis, jueguen

Verbs with a consonant change

Some verbs change their spelling in the present subjunctive in order to preserve pronunciation.

Consonant Change Example Verb Conjugation
(yo, tú, él, nosotros, vosotros, ellos)
Other Verbs
c → qu aparcar aparque, aparques, aparque, aparquemos, aparquéis, aparquen provocar, sacar
c → z cocer cueza, cuezas, cueza, cozamos, cozáis, cuezan vencer
g → gu llegar llegue, llegues, llegue, lleguemos, lleguéis, lleguen investigar, jugar, regar, pagar
gu → g distinguir distinga, distingas, distinga, distingamos, distingáis, distingan conseguir, perseguir, seguir
g → j coger coja, cojas, coja, cojamos, cojáis, cojan corregir, elegir
z → c organizar organice, organices, organice, organicemos, organicéis, organicen comenzar, cazar, empezar

Verbs that gain an accent

Because of the combination of vowels, some verbs take an accent in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular as well as in the 3rd person plural in both the present indicative and subjunctive.

Examples:
actuar → actúe, actúes, actúe, actuemos, actuéis, actúen
prohibir → prohíba, prohíbas, prohíba, prohibamos, prohibáis, prohíban
reunirse → me reúna, te reúnas, se reúna, nos reunamos, os reunáis, se reúnan

Verbs that add a z

The verbs (re)conocer, conducir, (des)obedecer, padecer, parecer and traducir add a z before the final c in the present subjunctive.

Examples:
conocer → conozca, conozcas, conozca, conozcamos, conozcáis, conozcan
conducir → conduzca, conduzcas, conduzca, conduzcamos, conduzcáis, conduzcan
obedecer → obedezca, obedezcas, obedezca, obedezcamos, obedezcáis, obedezcan
padecer → padezca, padezcas, padezca, padezcamos, padezcáis, padezcan
parecer → parezca, parezcas, parezca, parezcamos, parezcáis, parezcan
traducir → traduzca, traduzcas, traduzca, traduzcamos, traduzcáis, traduzcan

Verbs that add a g

For some -er and -ir verbs, we need to insert a g before adding the infinitive endings.

Verb Conjugation
caer* caiga, caigas, caiga, caigamos, caigáis, caigan
decir** diga, digas, diga, digamos, digáis, digan
hacer** haga, hagas, haga, hagamos, hagáis, hagan
oír oiga, oigas, oiga, oigamos, oigáis, oigan
poner ponga, pongas, ponga, pongamos, pongáis, pongan
salir salga, salgas, salga, salgamos, salgáis, salgan
tener
tenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tengáis, tengan
traer* traiga, traigas, traiga, traigamos, traigáis, traigan
valer valga, valgas, valga, valgamos, valgáis, valgan
venir venga, vengas, venga, vengamos, vengáis, vengan

*For verbs that contain hiato (-ae- sound), we add an i before the g to preserve this pronunciation.
**The verbs decir and hacer drop the letter c.

When to use the present subjunctive

Subjectivity

Sentences in the subjunctive do not comment on whether the information is true or false; instead, the focus is the speaker’s attitude towards or perception of the information presented.

The expression or clause that introduces the subjunctive indicates the speaker’s feelings.

Examples:
Ojalá gane en el bingo esta tarde.Hopefully I win at the bingo tonight.subjective perception, subjunctive
Nunca gano en el bingo.I never win at the bingo.standard statement, indicative

This subjectivity can take several forms:

Type of Subjectivity Examples
Feelings and emotions A Catalina le encanta que siempre sea tan positiva.Catalina loves that I’m always so positive.
Wishes and desires Me apetece que Catalina haga un viaje conmigo por Europa.I would like Catalina to take a trip with me through Europe.
Advice, recommendations, orders and requests Mis amigos recomiendan que dejemos Italia para el final.My friends recommended that we save Italy until last.
Evaluations and judgements Es necesario que llevemos una mochila ligera para no viajar con peso.We need to take a light backpack so we aren’t weighed down.
Negated opinions and doubts No creo que el viaje dure más de dos meses.I don’t think that the trip will take longer than two months.
Probability and hypothesis Quizá vivamos alguna aventura durante el viaje.Maybe we’ll have an adventure along the way.

Emotions and feelings

Verbs that express the speaker’s feelings regarding an action or situation are always followed by the subjunctive.

  • Common verbs: lamentar, odiar, sentir, no soportar, temer.
  • Verbs that take personal pronouns as their indirect object (me/te/le/nos/os/les): dar envidia, encantar, emocionar, extrañar, gustar, indignar, molestar, parecer bien/mal, poner nervioso/-a/-os/-as, sorprender, etc.

When followed by que + subjunctive, these verbs refer to a subject that is different to the one in the main clause.

Example:
A mi amiga Catalina le encanta que sea tan positiva.My friend Catalina loves that I am so positive.
subject 1 (Catalina) + que + subject 2 (yo)

When followed by an infinitive, they refer to the same subject as in the main clause.

Example:
Me encanta viajar sola.I love travelling solo.
subject 1 (yo) = subject 2 (yo)

Learn more about the subjunctive in sentences with two different subjects.

Desires and wishes

Verbs and structures that express desires, wishes and preferences are followed by the subjunctive.

  • Common verbs and structures: esperar, desear, preferir, querer, soñar con, tener ganas de, (me, te...) gustaría, (me, te...) encantaría, etc.

When followed by que + subjunctive, they express the speaker’s wish towards another person.

Example:
Quiero que Catalina haga un viaje de mochileras por Europa conmigo.I want Catalina to go backpacking around Europe with me.
subject 1 (yo) + que + subject 2 (Catalina)

When followed by an infinitive, these verbs refer to the same subject as in the main clause.

Example:
Tengo ganas de hacer un viaje por toda Europa con Catalina.I want to do a trip around Europe with Catalina.
subject 1 (yo) = subject 2 (yo)
  • ¡Ojalá…!, ¡Que…!

The expressions ¡Ojalá...! and ¡Que...! introduce the subjunctive and express a wish for the present or the future.

Examples:
¡Ojalá gane en el bingo esta tarde!Hopefully I win at the bingo tonight!
¡Que tengas suerte en el bingo!Good luck at the bingo!

Advice, suggestions, orders and requests

Advice, recommendations, suggestions, proposals, orders and requests are all expressed in the subjunctive.

Examples:
Todos nuestros amigos aconsejan que reservemos Italia para el final.All our friends advised us to save Italy until last.
No nos recomiendan que perdamos el tiempo con guías turísticas.They don’t recommend wasting time with tour guides.

Common verbs: (des)aconsejar, exigir, recomendar, sugerir, proponer, ordenar, prohibir, pedir, etc.

If the advice/recommendation/suggestion etc. is not directed at a specific person, we use the infinitive in the subordinate clause. This indicates that the speaker is making a general recommendation.

Example:
Nuestra amiga Paula recomienda viajar en los trenes nocturnos.Our friend Paula recommends travelling via night trains.

Evaluations and judgements

The structure (no) es/está ... que introduces the subjunctive. These structures evaluate an action or situation from a neutral perspective.

Example:
Es necesario que elijamos pronto el destino para organizar el viaje.We have to choose a destination soon to organise the trip.

If the subject is general and not mentioned explicitly, we use the infinitive instead of que + subjunctive.

Example:
Es obligatorio comprar un billete de tren para cada desplazamiento.You have to buy a train ticket for each journey.

Note

In the affirmative form, the following structures take the indicative: es cierto que, está claro que, está comprobado que, es evidente que, es obvio que, es verdad que.

But: in the negated form, the same structures take the subjunctive.

Examples:
Está claro que algunos trenes son más caros que otros.It’s clear that some trains are more expensive than others.
but: No está claro que esa página de billetes de tren sea de fiar.It’s not clear whether this ticket website is trustworthy.

Probability and uncertainty

Structures that express a degree of probability or uncertainty can be followed by the subjunctive or the indicative depending on the context.

Expression Indicative Subjunctive Example
quizá(s)* x x Quizá hagamos un viaje por toda Europa.Maybe we’ll take a trip around Europe.
tal vez* x x Tal vez hagamos un viaje por toda Europa.Maybe we’ll take a trip around Europe.
puede (ser) que x Puede que hagamos un viaje por toda Europa.We might take a trip around Europe.
es (im)posible que x Es posible que hagamos un viaje por toda Europa.We may take a trip around Europe.
posiblemente*, probablemente*, seguramente* x x Posiblemente hagamos un viaje por toda Europa.We might take a trip around Europe.
igual x Igual hacemos un viaje por toda Europa.Maybe we’ll take a trip around Europe.
a lo mejor x A lo mejor hacemos un viaje por toda Europa.We might take a trip around Europe.

*The expressions quizá(s), tal vez, posiblemente, probablemente and seguramente can be followed by the indicative when they refer to the past (e.g. Seguramente nos quedó por ver alguna ciudad preciosa.There are definitely some beautiful cities that we didn’t see.).

Negated opinions and doubts

Main clauses that contain verbs of opinion and thought are only followed by the subjunctive when they are negated.

Examples:
No creo que Catalina esté nerviosa por el viaje.I don’t think that Catalina is nervous about the trip.subjunctive
Creo que Catalina está nerviosa por el viaje.I think Catalina is nervous about the trip.indicative
Creo que Catalina no está nerviosa por el viaje.I think Catalina isn’t nervous about the trip.indicative
  • Verbs of opinion: creer, estar seguro/-a/-os/-as de, parecer, pensar, suponer, etc.

Note

The verb dudar always takes the subjunctive.

Examples:
Dudo que el viaje dure más de dos meses.I doubt that the trip will take longer than two months.
No dudo que algunos destinos sean más interesantes que otros.I don’t doubt that some destinations are more interesting than others.

The tense in the main clause

The present subjunctive follows main clauses that contain the present, future or present perfect indicative or the imperative.

  • Main clause in the present indicative

If the main clause contains the present tense, the subordinate clause can refer to the present or future. Time markers allow us to determine which.

Examples:
No creo que tenga ahora dinero suficiente para el viaje.I don’t think I have enough money for the trip now. at the present moment
No creo que el precio de los billetes suba en los próximos días.I don’t think that the ticket prices will go up in the next few days. in the future
  • Main clause in the future or the imperative

If the main clause contains the future tense or an imperative, the subordinate clause refers to the future.

Examples:
Te lo contaremos todo cuando volvamos del viaje.I’ll tell you everything when we get back from the trip. in the future
Avísame cuando recibas nuestra postal.Let me know when you get our postcard.in the future
  • Main clause in the present perfect

If the main clause contains the present perfect, the action in the subordinate clause has not yet happened.

Example:
El revisor ha dicho que nos bajemos en la siguiente estación.The conductor has told us to get off at the next station.we are still on the train

Conjunctions that take the subjunctive

The present subjunctive is also used after certain conjunctions. These are linking words that connect a main clause to a subordinate clause. Learn more about the Spanish conjunctions that take the subjunctive.

Example:
Avísame en cuanto recibas nuestra postal.Let me know as soon as you get our postcard.

The subjunctive in sentences with two subjects

Another feature of subjunctive sentences is that there is usually a change of subject between the main clause and the subordinate clause. When the subject is the same in both clauses, we use the infinitive rather than the subjunctive.

Examples:
Quiero que mi amiga Catalina haga un viaje por Europa conmigo.I want my friend Catalina to take a trip around Europe with me.
subject 1 (yo) vs. subject 2 (Catalina)
Quiero hacer un viaje por toda Europa con Catalina.I want to take a trip around Europe with Catalina.
subject 1 (yo) = subject 2 (yo)

Learn more about the subjunctive in sentences with two different subjects.

Verbs and expressions that take the subjunctive

Check out the following lists to see which Spanish verbs and expressions take the subjunctive: