Forming the Subjunctive of Regular and Irregular Spanish Verbs

Forming the subjunctive mood of Spanish verbs is pretty easy, despite the subjunctive’s bad reputation among many Spanish students. The following sections show you how to turn regular and irregular present-tense verbs into their moody subjunctive relatives.

Regular verbs

You form the present subjunctive of regular verbs by dropping the -o from the yo form of the present tense and adding the subjunctive endings, which are relatively easy to remember because -ar verbs use the present-tense endings of -er verbs, and -er and -ir verbs use the present-tense endings of -ar verbs. This is why people say that you form the present subjunctive by using the opposite verb endings on the stem. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Es importante que yo hable con sus padres. (It is important that I speak to your parents.)

  • Es esencial que Ud. comprenda las reglas. (It is essential that you understand the rules.)

Verbs irregular in the yo form

Some verbs are irregular in the yo form of the present tense. These verbs use the stem of the yo to form the present subjunctive. You drop the final -o from the yo form and add the opposite endings. So verbs with irregular present yo forms like tener (yo tengo) and poner (yo pongo) use those forms to create their subjunctive cousins (tœ tengas, usted ponga).

Irregular verbs

Some verbs are completely irregular in the subjunctive mood, which means you can’t follow any rules or patterns to form them. You just have to memorize them:

Irregular Verbs in the Subjunctive
Spanish Verb Meaning Subjunctive Forms
dar to give dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den
estar to be esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén
ir to go vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan
saber to know sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan
ser to be sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

Here are some examples showing these irregulars in action:

  • Estamos triste que tu abuela esté enferma. (We are sad that your grandmother is sick.)

  • Yo dudo que él sepa reparar la computadora. (I doubt that he knows how to repair the computer.)

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