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Published on: Grammar

The Spanish Subjunctive Conjugation Made Easy

First things first, If you’re reading this article to learn all about subjunctives, we want to congratulate you! Leaning Subjunctive is a topic for advanced learners, so that means that you’re doing it great so far! 

It is widely thought that Subjunctives in Spanish are a very difficult topic in Spanish grammar, since it adds a lot of new and different rules into the game, rules that simply don’t exist in English, this topic is not difficult at all, but it will certainly take you some time to master it.

In this article, we will be explaining everything you need to know about the Spanish Subjunctive, what is it, how to conjugate it, and some examples for you to start practicing. At the end of this article, you will realize that the Subjunctive in Spanish makes even more sense than in English!

Verb Moods vs Verb Tenses

It’s important to note that moods and verb tenses are related but they are not the same. Moods of a verb do not refer to a moment in time but to a manner of expression. Although they can be conjugated in different tenses.

To simplify, think of moods as a manner of a verb to express facts, orders, or hypothetical situations. and tenses are simply the time when the action of the verb occurs

in Spanish, there are (luckily) just three moods:

  • The indicative mood which indicates concrete actions, facts, or objective statements, it’s the most common of all three.
  • The imperative mood which represents orders or instructions, and
  • The subjunctive mood which indicates subjective statements, feelings, doubts, and insecurities.

Subjunctives and Indicatives may be conjugated in different tenses  (past, present, or future). Each of these moods has a different function.

Indicative Mood Example Imperative Mood Example Subjunctive Mood Example
Cada domingo el compra empanadas. ¡Compre unas empanadas! Ojalá compre algunas empanadas.

What is the Subjunctive 

The subjunctive is a verb mood that is used to express possible, desired, or hypothetical statements. In other words, statements that are not actually happening or are uncertain to happen. 

It’s easier to understand how the subjunctive work by looking at some examples. With subjunctives, you can express:

Wishes from one to another person

Image by Vil Son via Unsplash

Mi Madre quiere que estudie medicina. – My mother wants me to study medicine.

In this sentence, the word estudie represents a wish, but not demand since it’s uncertain if the wants to follow what his mother wants.


No creo que llegue a tiempo. – I don’t think that it arrives on time.

In the same way, the verb llegue makes the sentence feel uncertain to actually know if the person will arrive on time.

Subjective Impressions 

Es probable que llueva. – It is likely to rain.

You can express some grade of probability to situations, but not facts, in this case, if it’s a fact that it will rain, you should say  “va a llover.”

Hypothetical situations

Descansaremos cuando las vacas vuelen. – We will rest when cows fly.

Also, you can use subjunctives to talk about situations that are not possible to happen like cows flying.

So, you see that the highlighted verbs are not in the present, past, or future tense, they are conjugated differently, that’s the subjunctive mood of the verb and you basically use it to show uncertainty.


Identify when to use Subjuntives with WEIRDO

Don’t worry, no one is a weirdo here (maybe us for being so in love with Spanish learning), WEIRDO is an acronym that helps you remember what types of verbs that can introduce a clause with a subjunctive verb form. It stands for: Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal Expressions, Recommendations, Doubt/Denial, and Ojalá.

How to Conjugate Subjunctives

Here are some basic rules for the present subjunctive conjugation. Please remember that the subjunctive forms in different tenses will have different forms, so you will have to learn those as well. But in this section, we will present you the basic aspects of conjugating subjunctives in the present tense.

All subjunctive verbs in the present tense will have two parts: the present subjunctive stem and the subjunctive ending.

The Subjunctive Stem

Getting the Subjunctive Stem is really easy, you just have to take the letter “o” off from the first-person singular form of the present indicative, in other words, the “yo” form of the verb.

Base Verb Indicative “Yo” form (first person singular) Present Subjunctive Stem
Comprar (to buy) Compro Compr-
Vender (to sell) Vendo Vend-
Comer (to eat) Como Com-
Tener (to have) Tengo Teng-
Ver (to see) Veo Ve-

Note that there are also some irregular stem forms that can’t follow this rule, for example, these:

  • haber (aux. to have): hay- 
  • ir (to go):  vay-
  • saber (to know): sep-
  • dar (to give): d-
  • estar (to be): est-
  • ser (to be): se-

Creating the subjunctive stem is the first step for conjugating subjunctives. After this, you have to add the subjunctive ending at the end of the word.

You can have a quick overview of stem-chancging verbs in Spanish by clicking on that link!

The Subjunctive Ending

The present subjunctive endings are different for –ar verbs and –er/-ir verbs.

For AR Verbs

Personal pronoun Subjunctive ending Verb Escuchar (To Listen)
Yo –e Escuch-e
-es Escuch-es
Él / Ella / Usted -e Escuch-e
Nosotros -emos Escuch-emos
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes -en Escuch-en

For ER / IR Verbs

Personal pronoun Subjunctive ending Verb Conocer (To get to know) Subjunctive Stem: Conozc
Yo –a Conozc-a
-as Conozc-as
Él / Ella / Usted -a Conozc-a
Nosotros -amos Conozc-amos
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes -an Conozc-an



In order to master the subjunctive ending in the present form, you can pick some verbs and conjugate them in all personal pronouns. Little by little you will get used to them since most of the verbs follow these principles.

And that’s how you conjugate verbs in the subjunctive mood!

Learn When to Use the Subjunctive Mood in Spanish

You can be able to identify when to use the Subjunctive, it will require some memorization and practice. We will give you some cheat sheets to recognize them, as well as some strategies you can put into practice to know very well when to use the subjunctive mood in Spanish.

Subjunctive Trigger Cheat Sheet 

Subjunctive triggers are words that force the verb in a sentence to be used in its subjunctive form. Learning these words can help you identify the use of this mood. 

It happens with the Spanish word ojalá which means “God willing” or “hopefully.” Every time you see or hear that word, you can be sure that you’re in the land of the non-existent, and you should switch to the subjunctive mood.

Have you ever wondered how many words, such as ojalá, from other languages were adopted and contributed to extend modern Spanish vocabulary? Here in this guide we’ll tell you about the beautiful history of the Spanish language and how it all came to be. Check it out!

In other words, when you see one of these subjunctive triggers, you must use the subjunctive. Learning these words and phrases is a useful practice to help Spanish students master the use of the subjunctive mood.

Will, Desires, and Orders

The subjunctive mood is used after expressions of will, desire, and orders whenever there are two different subjects in the two clauses linked by the subordinating conjunction “que”. For example;

Trigger Phrase Meaning Spanish Example
querer que… to want that … Mi mama [quiere que] estudie medicina.
pedir que… to ask that … Me [pidieron que] vaya a comprar pan.
preferir que… to prefer that … [Prefiero que] no hagan eso. (note that it’s totally okay to put the no)
ordenar que… to order that … Ella me [ordenó que] limpie la cocina.
esperar que… to hope that … [Espero que] te vaya muy bien!
mandar que… to order that… El te [mandó que] estés listo para salir.   
desear que… to desire that … Ellos [desean que] te vayas.
exigir que… to require that … Te [exijo que] leas ese libro!

Emotions and Reactions

The subjunctive is used after expressions of emotion and reactions to something. A very common structure that triggers the subjunctive is es + adjective + que expressing opinions. For example:

Trigger Phrase Meaning Spanish Example
es importante que it is important that [Es importante que] tengas listo este trabajo para mañana.
es triste que it is sad that… [Es triste que] no haya ganado ese premio.
es fundamental que it is key that [Es fundamental que] aprendas este tema.
es bueno que it is good that [Es bueno que] leas todos los días.
es inútil que it is useless that [Es inutil que] intentes arreglar eso.
es urgente que it is urgent that [Es urgente que] me hagas ese favor.

Negative Opinions and Doubt

The subjunctive occurs in dependent clauses introduced by verbs and expressions of doubt or negative opinions whenever there are two different subjects in clauses linked by the subordinating conjunction que

Here is a list of common expressions of negative opinion and doubt in which the subjunctive is found in the subordinate clause:

Trigger Phrase Meaning Spanish Example
no creer que to not believe that … No creo que funcione este plan
no pensar que to not think that … No pienso que debes hacer eso
dudar que to doubt that … Dudo que haya alguien aquí
no opinar que to not think that … Opino que no salgamos de casa
no me/te/le/nos/les parece que it doesn’t seem to me/you/him that… No me parece esto sea una buena idea

Conjunctions with Subjunctive

When the following conjunctions introduce a subordinate clause with a new subject, they always trigger the subjunctive. Remember that the subjects of the subordinate clause and in the main clause are different. Look at these examples:

Trigger Phrase Meaning Spanish Example
para que… what for… Trabaja para que ellos vivan bien.
sin que… without… No me voy sin que esten todos a salvo.
a menos que… unless… No me voy a menos de que me paguen.
tal vez… perhaps… Tal vez no haya mucha gente.
antes de que… before… Voy a salir antes de que se den cuenta.
quizás… maybe… Quizás me escuchen.

How to Identify When to use Subjunctives Quickly

Another great way to know when you should use subjunctives in a sentence is by thinking about the following rules:

1. First Rule: The Sentence has Two Subjects

The subjunctive mood usually appears in the subordinate clause (Second part of a sentence). The subject in this subordinate clause is in most cases different from the subject in the main clause.

  • She wants me to eat the apple.
  • Ella quiere que yo coma la manzana.

When you notice that there are two subjects in a sentence, a red flag goes off! You can check the next rule:

2. Second Rule: The sentence has Two Verbs

Because we talk about two clauses, there are usually two different verbs in these clauses. The first verb comes in the indicative mood in the main verb, and the second verb is in the subjunctive mood in the subordinate clause. 

  • She wants me to eat the apple.
  • Ella quiere que yo coma la manzana.

As you can see in the example, there are two verbs in the sentence, the first one being quiere and the second one being the subjunctive verb of “comer”, note that the first verb is a verb that expresses a wish, that means that the second verb will surely be subjunctive

3. Third rule, there is a relative pronoun (que or quien)

The subordinate clause with the subjunctive form of the verb is usually introduced by a relative pronoun que (which, that) or quien (who, that).

  • She wants me to eat the apple. (She wants that I eat the apple)
  • Ella quiere que yo coma la manzana.


It’s important to know that the Subjunctive mood can also be conjugated in past or future tenses, they’re called Imperfect Subjunctive (for past) and Future Subjunctive (for future). But if you’re just starting with subjunctives, you can pause here and keep practicing the subjunctive conjugation in the present tense until you find yourself comfortable with it

Common Subjunctive Phrases you can use in any Spanish Conversation

Here are more examples for you that you can practice with! You can change the context of the sentence as you like.

  • No creo que pueda hacerlo.
  • Espero que sepas como correr.
  • Ojalá pudiera leer tu mente.
  • Espero que la reunion resuelva el problema.
  • Me gustaría que lean sus libros.
  • Espero que estes bien.
  • Es fundamental que te aprendas estos conceptos.
  • Quiero que te vayas.
  • No quiero que te sientas mal.
  • Entiendo que te quieras ir.
  • Posiblemente pidamos unos días en el trabajo para irnos de vacaciones.
  • Que tengan un bonito día.
  • Ojalá que te den a ti el puesto de trabajo.
  • ¡Que cumplan muchos años más!
Image by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via Pexels

Practice Makes Perfect

If you ask a native about subjunctives, they probably won’t know what it is, because natives actually never need to study this, they simply know, it’s so natural that they don’t even notice it, and you can surely get to that point, with a little bit of help and practice.

Mastering the subjunctive in Spanish is a great step in your ahead in your language-learning journey. After this, you will be even closer to achieving the levels of fluency that everyone is eager to get.

We hope that you enjoyed this complete article about the introduction of subjunctive mood conjugation in Spanish. Remember, this is a topic that requires some time of practice and study, so you can start over as much as you need to. 

In case you feel like this topic is still, you can always trust SpanishVIP to guide you to achieve your Spanish-learning goals. You can sign up for a free Spanish lesson or a 7-day free trial of our group classes today and never stop learning!

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