Pagar Conjugation: Preterite & Subjunctive

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena teaches Spanish as a foreign language and has a PhD in linguistics.

Most of our daily activities involve money and payments. In this lesson, you will learn how to use the Spanish verb ''pagar'' (to pay) to talk about past actions with the preterite, and express wishes or possibilities with the subjunctive.

Talking About Money

Did you pay all your bills yet? How much did you pay for your last trip? Money is involved in many of our daily activities. You will need the verb pagar (pronounced: pah-GAHR), which means 'to pay,' in many situations in which you interact with Spanish speakers, such as paying the check at a restaurant or buying goods and services.

Pagar (to pay)

Using the Verb Pagar in Context

Before learning how to conjugate pagar, let's take a look at some useful vocabulary related to this verb:

Spanish Pronounciation Translation
la cuenta (lah KWEHN-tah) the check
el alquiler (ehl ahl-kee-LEHR) the rent
las facturas (lahs fahk-TOO-rahs) the bills
un préstamo (oon PREHS-tah-moh) a loan
la hipoteca (lah ee-poh-TEH-kah) the mortgage
barato/a (bah-RAH-toh/tah) cheap
caro/a (KAH-roh/rah) expensive

Preterite of Pagar

We use the preterite to talk about past actions that are finished or completed.

The good news is that pagar is regular in this tense (except for a small change in the first person). To conjugate it, take its stem (pag-) and add the preterite endings.

Note: For the first person singular (yo) we need to add an u to the stem. We do this to keep the hard /g/ sound. Otherwise, g + e would sound like the English /hay/.

VERB: pagar (pah-GAHR) - to pay

Subject Pronouns Preterite Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
yo pag (pah-GEH) I paid
pagaste (pah-GAHS-teh) you paid
él/ella/usted pagó (pah-GOH) he/she/you (formal)
nosotros/nosotras pagamos (pah-GAH-mohs) we paid
vosotros/vosotras pagasteis (pah-GAHS-tays) you all paid
ellos/ellas/ustedes pagaron (pah-GAH-rohn) they/you all (formal)

Example Conversation

Javi and Laura are checking their monthly bills. Laura is a very organized person and has everything under control.

  • Javi: ¿Pagaste la factura del teléfono? (Did you pay the telephone bill?)
  • Laura: Sí, la pagué esta mañana. (Yes, I paid it this morning.)
  • Javi: ¿Y el alquiler? (And the rent?)
  • Laura: Ya lo pagamos la semana pasada. (We already paid it last week.)

They are off today and they have planned to go to a concert with some friends:

  • Laura: ¿Manuel y tú pagasteis las entradas del concierto? (Did Manuel and you pay for the concert tickets?)
  • Javi: Las pagaron Manuel y Rebeca. (Manuel and Rebeca paid for them.) Esta noche les pagamos las nuestras. (We'll pay them ours tonight.)

Pagamos las facturas. (We paid the bills.)

Subjunctive of Pagar

With the subjunctive, which is a mood or mode of expressing ideas, we talk about information which is not factual, but subjective. Use it to express wishes or talk about possibilities or suppositions.

Conjugating pagar in the subjunctive is easy. Do you remember the first person singular (yo) of the preterite? Well, just take the same stem (pagu-) and add the subjunctive endings, as shown in the table:

VERB: pagar (pah-GAHR) - to pay

Subject Pronouns Present Subjunctive Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
yo pague (PAH-geh) I pay
pagues (PAH-gehs) you pay
él/ella/usted pague (PAH-geh) he/she pays -
you (formal) pay
nosotros/nosotras paguemos (pah-GEH-mohs) we pay
vosotros/vosotras paguéis (pah-GAYS) you all pay
ellos/ellas/ustedes paguen (PAH-gehn) they/you all (formal)

Don't forget that all forms have an u in the stem now to keep the hard /g/ sound!

Examples Expressing Wishes

Let's see now how we can use the subjunctive in context. You can start your sentences with the expressions:

  • Espero que… (I hope…)
  • Quiero que… (I want…)
  • No quiero que... (I don't want…)
  • Ojalá... (Hopefully...)

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