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When to use the Subjunctive in Spanish

If you don´t know what is the Subjunctive or when to use the Subjunctive in Spanish, this article will definitely help you understand it and use it in a very easy way.

When to use the Subjunctive in Spanish

Verbs are words that indicate an action. For example, amar (to love), comer (to eat), and dormir (to sleep).

In Spanish there are three ways in which verbs can be used: Indicative, Imperative, and Subjunctive.

  • The Indicative is used to describe real or true facts. For example: (yo) amo, (tú) comes, (ella) sale.

  • The Imperative is used to give orders: (tú) ama, (usted) coma, (ustedes) salgan.

Uses of the subjunctive in Spanish

The Subjunctive is generally used to indicate a possibility, a desire or something hypothetical, that is, something that could happen in the future.

As we have explained in another articles, there are three types of verbs in Spanish, depending on their endings: -ar, -er, -ir (there are also irregular verbs, but we will not talk about them in this article in order to help you understand in a clear way the subjunctive).

Verbs will have a different ending in the subjunctive, depending on the person we are referring to:

When to use the Subjunctive in Spanish

Examples of subjunctive in Spanish

For verbs ending in -ar:

  • El día que yo gane (ganar) la lotería, compraré una casa nueva. The day I win the lottery, I will buy a new house.

  • Cuando tu ames (amar) lo que haces, dejarás de verlo como un trabajo. When you love what you do, you will stop seeing it as a job.

  • Cuando él/ella/usted termine (terminar) su trabajo podrá ir a casa. When he/she/you finish (es) your work you can go home.

  • Tan pronto empecemos (empezar) este proyecto, veremos resultados. As soon as we start this project, we will see results.

  • Es necesario que ustedes/ellos/ellas organicen (organizar) la fiesta antes de enviar las invitaciones. It is necessary that you/they organize the party before sending the invitations.

For verbs ending in -er, -ir:

  • El día que yo salga (salir) a tiempo de casa podré llegar puntual al trabajo. The day I leave on time from home I will arrive in time to the office.

  • Es necesario que tú entiendas (entender) este concepto para poder aplicarlo. It is necessary that you understand this concept in order to apply it.

  • Cuando él/ella/usted coma (comer) despacio, verá grandes beneficios en su salud. When he/she/you eat (s) slowly, he/she/you will see great benefits in his/her/your health.

  • Tan pronto vivamos (vivir) en Estados Unidos, podremos perfeccionar nuestro inglés. As soon as we live in the United States, we will improve our English.

  • Cuando ustedes/ellos/ellas tengan (tener) una condición física excelente, podrán correr un maratón. When you/they have an excellent physical condition, you/they will be able to run a marathon.

More uses of the subjunctive in Spanish

  • Recommendations: Te recomiendo/sugiero que vayas (ir) a México. I recommend/suggest that you go to Mexico.

  • Wishes: Espero que vengas (ir) a visitarme. I hope you come to visit me.

  • Hypothesis: Tal vez no sea (ser) cierto. It may not be true.

  • Expectations: Ojalá que llueva (llover) hoy. I hope it will rain.

  • Emotions: Me alegra que estés (estar) aquí. I'm glad you're here.

  • Negative imperative: No vayas (ir) a llegar tarde. Do not be late.

  • Disagreement: No creo que estés (estar) en lo correcto. I don't think you're right.

There are other ways in which the subjunctive can be used (in Preterite, Past perfect, Future…), but for didactic purposes this article only describes when to use the subjunctive in Spanish in the present tense, which is the most commonly used form.

Now that you know what is the subjunctive in Spanish, we invite you to practice it by writing a phrase in which you express your wishes or some hypothetical situation.

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