Present Subjunctive Conjugations for Stem-Change Verbs in Spanish

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  • 0:38 Conjugation
  • 1:55 Stem-Changing Verbs
  • 4:51 Orthographic Stem Changes
  • 7:15 Totally Irregular Verbs
  • 9:24 Pr?ctica
  • 11:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pablo Serna

Pablo has taught college Spanish at the University of Missouri and Central Methodist University, and has a master's degree in Spanish literature.

In this lesson, we will learn how to conjugate some stem-changing and irregular verbs using the present subjunctive in Spanish. There are several changes that need to be taken into consideration and forms that need to be memorized.

Present Subjunctive

In this lesson, we will learn how to conjugate the present subjunctive of stem-changing verbs in Spanish. The subjunctive mood talks about situations and events that are considered uncertain, hypothetical, or non-existent. Verbs or expressions of 1. will and influence, 2. doubt, disbelief, denial, 3. emotions, 4. some conjunctions, 5. some adjective clauses, and 6. some impersonal expressions work as triggers for the present subjunctive.


For most of the present subjunctive of irregular verbs, we have the same endings as the ones we have for regular verbs in present subjunctive. Now, this is the way we conjugate regular and most irregular verbs (we will talk about other irregulars that follow their own rules later in this lesson): you take the yo form of the verb in the indicative mood, get rid of the letter 'o' at the end, and add the endings below according to the subject. For example, tengo ('I have' in the present indicative) turns into tenga, tengamos, tengas, etc. in the present subjunctive. These are the endings:

-AR -e, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en

-ER -a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an

-IR -a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an

Also, if this helps at all, the present subjunctive has the same forms as the ones used for usted and ustedes negative commands.

Stem-Changing Verbs

As in all Spanish tenses, the present subjunctive has some stem-changing and irregular verbs. There is something good about the -ar and -er irregulars, and it's that they are also irregular in the present indicative. Let's see them:

1. -AR and -ER verbs: The general rule applies EXCEPT there is no stem-change in the nosotros and vosotros forms:

- Soñar (to dream): sueñe, sueñes, sueñe, soñemos*, soñéis*, sueñen.

- Volver (to return/come back): vuelva, vuelvas, vuelva, volvamos*, volváis*, vuelvan.

Other verbs are pensar, perder, contar.

2. -IR verbs: The general rule applies EXCEPT the stem-change in the nosotros and vosotros forms follows different patterns:

  • o --> ue verbs change o --> u
  • e --> ie verbs change e --> i
  • e --> i verbs change e --> i

- Dormir (to sleep): Yo duerma, tú duermas, él/ella/usted duerma, nosotros durmamos*, vosotros durmáis*, ustedes/ellos duerman.

- Sentir (to feel): sienta, sientas, sienta, sintamos*, sintáis*, sientan.

- Pedir (to ask for): pida, pidas, pida, pidamos*, pidáis*, pidan.

- Morir (to die): muera, mueras, muera, muramos*, muráis*, mueran.

3. Verbs that have an irregular yo form have the same endings as regular verbs in the present subjunctive. Let's see some of them:

- Hacer (to do/make): yo haga, tú hagas, él/ella/usted haga, nosotros hagamos, vosotros hagáis, ustedes/ellos hagan.

- Tener (to have): tenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tengáis, tengan.

Other verbs that follow the same change: venir (to come), decir (to say/tell), traer (to bring), poner (to put/place/put on).

Orthographic Stem Changes

Some verbs have more changes than just a letter, and a lot of times this happens because of phonetics (how letters sound together), trying to keep the sound of the verb in the infinitive form. Some combinations of letters, if we followed the general rules, would sound terrible. Now, look at these examples of changes:

1. c --> zc: Conocer (to know): conozca, conozcas, conozca, conozcamos, conozcáis, conozcan.

2. z --> c when followed by e in verbs that end on -zar: empezar (to start/begin): empiece, empieces, empiece, empecemos, empecéis, empiecen.
comenzar (to start/begin): comience, comiences, comience, comencemos, comencéis, comiencen.

3. -ger and -gir --> j when followed by a: escoger (to choose): escoja, escojas, escoja, escojamos, escojáis, escojan.

4. -guir --> g without u when followed by an a: seguir (to follow/continue): siga, sigas, siga, sigamos, sigáis, sigan.

5. -car --> -que and -gar --> -gue: tocar (to touch): toque, toques, toque, toquemos, toquéis, toquen.
cargar (to load/carry): cargue, cargues, cargue, carguemos, carguéis, carguen.

Totally Irregular Verbs

Some verbs have a stem that is totally irregular. The best way to remember them is MEMORIZING:

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