11.2 Forms of the Present Subjunctive

Forms of regular verbs have their subjunctive ending in what is often called the “opposite vowel.” For –ar verbs, the opposite vowel is e. For –er and –ir verbs, the opposite vowel is a. With regular verbs, it now becomes more important to know whether the verb’s form in the subjunctive is from an –ar versus an –er or –ir verb, as the endings in the present subjunctive versus the present indicative normally differ by only one vowel.

tomar leer abrir
yo tome lea abra
tomes leas abras
él, Ella, Ud. tome lea abra
Nosotros tomemos leamos abramos
Vosotros toméis  leáis abráis
ellos, ellas, Uds. tomen lean abran

Subjunctive forms of –ar and –er verbs undergo the stem change in the same persons as in the present indicative:

pensar volver
yo piense vuelva
pienses vuelvas
él, Ella, Ud. piense vuelva
Nosotros pensemos volvamos
Vosotros penséis volváis
ellos, ellas, Uds. piensen vuelvan

In –ir stem-changing verbs, the e to ie type gives an i in the first and second persons plural:

sentir
1st sienta sintamos
2nd sientas sintáis
3rd sienta sientan

The o to ue type of stem-changing verbs uses a u in these same two persons:

dormir
1st duerma durmamos
2nd duermas durmáis
3rd duerma duerman

In –ir stem-changing verbs of the e to i type, the entire present subjunctive shows the stem change:

pedir
1st pida pidamos
2nd pidas pidáis
3rd pida pidan

Remember that verbs ending in vowel plus –cer or –cir insert a z in the first person singular of the indicative, which appears in the entire present subjunctive, as it is the first person singular of the present indicative on which the present subjunctive is based (except in stem-changing verbs and the four irregular verbs):

traducir
1st traduzca traduzcamos
2nd traduzcas traduzcáis
3rd traduzca traduzcan

These forms of the subjunctive of irregular verbs may be easier to recognize than those of regular verbs. This is one of many cases in Spanish in which one tense “builds on” another. By mastering or recognizing earlier-studied forms, it becomes easier to recognize other new ones as they are presented.

tener
1st tenga tengamos
2nd tengas tengáis
3rd tenga tengan

Other verbs irregular in the first person singular that undergo the same phenomenon are:

Example verbs
infinitive > 1st person sing. Present Indicative
Subjunctive
decir > digo diga
hacer > hago haga
oír > oigo oiga
poner > pongo ponga
salir > salgo salga
traer > traigo traiga
venir > vengo venga
ver > veo vea

The verbs dar and estar are technically irregular in the present subjunctive because of the accent marks on some forms, which indicate spoken stress and also differentiate them from otherwise identical forms.

dar estar
yo (versus de [prep.] esté (versus este [dem. adj.])
des estés
él, Ella, Ud. esté
Nosotros demos estemos
Vosotros deis estéis
ellos, ellas, Uds. den estén

The only truly irregular verbs in the present subjunctive are the following four, in which the differences from the present indicative should help these forms stand out:

haber haya
ir vaya
saber sepa
ser sea

The ir + a + infinitive construction, which renders future meaning without using the future tense in the indicative mode (e.g., Sé que van a tener tiempo), can also do the same in the subjunctive mode.

Dudo que vayan a tener tiempo para hacer todo lo necesario. I doubt that you’re going to have time to do everything necessary.

Vocabulario básico

Verbos:

asesinar- to murder, to assassinate
atracar- to hold up
dudar- to doubt
encarcelar- to imprison (cognate: incarcerate)
negar (ie)- to deny, to negate
proscribir (p.p: proscrito)- to outlaw, to forbid
raptar- to kidnap
secuestrar- to kidnap, to hijack (false friend)
sentir (ie)- to regret, to be sorry
sobornar- to bribe

Sustantivos:

el asesinato- murder, assassination
el atraco- hold-up, mugging
el delito- crime
la pena de muerte- death penalty
la policía- police (force), policewoman
el policía- policeman
el rapto- kidnapping, abduction
el secuestro- kidnapping, hijacking
la violación- rape, violation, transgression

Expresión:

hacer trampas- to cheat

Last revised on June 21, 2021.