Forming the Present Subjunctive  

Present Subjunctive Introduction

You can conjugate any Spanish verb provided you know the infinitive. Start with the first person singular (yo-form) of the present indicative.

1. If this form does not end in an -o, the verb is irregular in the present subjunctive; memorize the forms.

Yo-form - Infinitive Present Subjunctive Forms

 
                yo     tú    Ud./él/-la  nosotros   vosotros  Uds. 

soy    ser:     sea    seas   sea         seamos     seáis     sean 
estoy  estar:   esté   estés  esté        estemos    estéis    estén 
voy    ir:      vaya   vayas  vaya        vayamos    vayáis    vayan 
doy    dar:     dé     des    dé          demos      deis      den 
sé     saber:   sepa   sepas  sepa        sepamos    sepáis    sepan 

Note: the endings for the present subjunctive for all other verbs are:

Endings for -ar verbs

-e       -emos
-es      -eis
-e       -en 

Endings for -er and -ir verbs

-a      -amos
-as     -áis
-a      -an 

(These endings are or the most part the “opposite” conjugation endings of the present indicative.)

2. If the stem of the yo-form is exactly the same as the stem of the infinitive, the verb is regular; use this stem and attach the appropriate endings.

Yo-form, Infin- Present subjunctive forms

 
              yo     tú     Ud./él/-la  nosotros    vosotros  Uds. 

hablo hablar: hable  hables  hable       hablemos   habléis   hablen 
como  comer:  coma   comas   coma        comamos    comáis    coman 
vivo  vivir:  viva   vivas   viva        vivamos    viváis    vivan 
3. If the stem of the yo-form shows a stem change when compared to the stem of the infinitive (e > ie, o > ue, or u > ue) and it's an -ar or -er verb, the stem will undergo the same changes as in the present indicative (in all forms except for nosotros and vosotros); substitute the subjunctive endings for the indicative ones:

Yo-form, Infin- Present subjunctive forms

 
                yo     tú      Ud./él/-la  nosotros vosotros Uds.

vuelvo volver:  vuelva vuelvas vuelva      volvamos volváis  vuelvan

4. If the stem of yo-form, when compared to that of the infinitive, shows that an -ir stem-changing verb is involved, all forms of the present subjunctive will have stem changes: the same ones as in the present indicative (e > ie, o > ue, and e > i), plus special changes in the nosotros and vosotros forms (e > i, o > u):

Yo-form, Infin- Present subjunctive forms

 
                yo      tú       Ud.     nosotros  vosotros  Uds.

siento sentir:  sienta  sientas  sienta   sintamos  sintáis  sientan 
duermo dormir:  duerma  duermas  duerma   durmamos  durmáis  duerman 
pido pedir:     pida    pidas    pida     pidamos   pidáis   pidan

5. We are left with a yo form stem which is NOT the same as the one for the infinitive and which is NOT a stem-changing verb: use this stem for all forms of the present subjunctive:

Yo-form, Infin- Present subjunctive forms

 
                 yo      tú      Ud.      nosotros   vosotros  Uds.

conozco conocer: conozca conozcas conozca conozcamos conozcáis conozcan 
tengo   tener:   tenga   tengas   tenga   tengamos   tengáis   tengan 

Some of the verbs in this category:

  
caer (caigo)         salir (salgo)
conocer (conozco)    seguir (sigo)
decir (digo)         valer (valgo)
hacer (hago)         venir (vengo)
poner (pongo)

Remember that compounds based on these verbs also have special yo-forms, e.g., reconocer, deshacer, proponer, conseguir, etc.

6. Remember that spelling (or orthographic) changes take place in the subjunctive forms of some verbs to maintain the pronunciation of the consonant sound preceding the infinitive:

Infinitive ending Subj. ending Examples

-car > -que

    buscar > busque

-gar > -gue

    pagar > pague

-zar > -ce

    empezar > empiece

-cer or -cir > -za

    ejercer > ejerza

-ger or -gir > -ja

    coger > coja

Yo-form, Infin- Present subjunctive forms

 
                 yo      tú       Ud.     nosotros  vosotros Uds.
 
busco buscar:    busque  busques  busque  busquemos busquéis busquen 
pago pagar:      pague   pagues   pague   paguemos  paguéis  paguen 
empiezo empezar: empiece empieces empiece empecemos empecéis empiecen 
ejerzo ejercer:  ejerza  ejerzas  ejerza  ejerzamos ejerzáis ejerzan 
cojo coger:      coja    cojas    coja    cojamos   cojáis   cojan 



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Popular Phrase: how do you say | Past Tense | Conjugated Verb: sobrevenir - to come upon, to happen [ click for full conjugation ]