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Simple Spanish Subjunctive Sentences

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

Do you know how to use subjunctive in Spanish? Do you have any doubts about its general usage? Don't worry! In this lesson, you will learn the basics and following these rules, you won't be afraid to use it anymore!

General Conjugation Rules

Hannah wants to send a birthday card to her Chilean pen pal, Lucía. Hannah wants to practice her Spanish and write a nice message on the card. But when she tries to translate 'I hope you have a great day', she wonders how 'have' should be conjugated.

Let's have a look at the main uses of Spanish subjunctive. Here is a quick reminder of the conjugation:

Rule: use the simple present endings but replace the main vowel by -e or -a

Simple Subjunctive

Subject Pronoun Verbs in -AR Verbs in -ER Verbs in -IR
yo -e -a -a
-es -as -as
él/ella/usted -e -a -a
nosotros/nosotras -emos -amos -amos
vosotros/vosotras -éis -áis -áis
ellos/ellas/ustedes -en -an -an

However, there are some exceptions, or 'irregular verbs'. But don't worry! There are only a few of them:

Irregular verbs

Infinitive Translation Simple Subjunctive
dar to give dé / des / de / demos / deis / den
estar to be (location or temporary states) esté / estés / esté / estemos / estéis / estén
haber to exist / to have (auxiliary) haya / hayas / haya / hayamos / hayáis / hayan
ir to go vaya / vayas / vaya / vayamos / vayáis / vayan
saber to know sepa / sepas / sepa / sepamos / sepáis / sepan
ser to be (permanent) sea / seas / sea / seamos / seáis / sean

Expressing Wishes

Every time you want to express your wishes or desires, you will need the subjunctive.

Hanna wants to wish Lucía a happy birthday, so she will need to say: Espero que pases un feliz cumpleaños (literally, 'I hope you have a happy birthday').

However, we tend to simplify and it is more common to start this kind of expression with just ¡Que…! Therefore, we would simply say: ¡Que pases un feliz cumpleaños!.

Translation: I hope you have a happy birthday!
birthday

Any expression introduced by ¡Que…! requires simple subjunctive, like these:

  • Birthday wishes: Apart from the previous expression, we can also say ¡Que cumplas muchos más! (Many happy returns!). Cumplir is literally 'to fulfil', so this expression means 'I hope you fulfil many more years'.
  • ¡Que lo pases bien! ('Have a good time!')
  • ¡Que tengas buen viaje! ('Have a good trip!')
  • ¡Que te mejores pronto! ('I hope you get better soon').
  • ¡Que tengas suerte! ('Good luck!').
  • Also, any expression introduced by Ojalá (que) (oh-hah-LAH; 'hopefully'/'I hope'): Ojalá (que) puedas venir a mi fiesta ('I hope you can come to my party').

Translation: Long Live the Bride and Groom
wedding

Simple subjunctive is quite easy to form if you memorize this rule:

  • For verbs ending in -AR (e.g. pasar, mejorar…), we will form the subjunctive endings with the same endings as in the present but replacing a by e. For example: ¡Que pases un buen día! ('Have a nice day')
  • For verbs ending in -ER or -IR (e.g. tener, cumplir…), we will do exactly the opposite, so the main vowel for the endings will now be a, as in ¡Que tengas suerte!

Future Probabilities

But now Hannah wants to tell Lucía about her future plans - possible trip to Chile! She can express this in different ways:

  • Probablemente (proh-BAH-bleh-MEHN-teh; 'probably') / Posiblemente (poh-SEE-bleh-MEHN-teh; 'possibly'): Posiblemente vaya a Chile en verano. ('I will possibly go to Chile in the summer')
  • Quizá(s) (kee-SAHS; 'perhaps, maybe') / Tal vez (tahl behs; 'maybe, perhaps'): Quizás nos veamos muy pronto. ('Maybe we will see each other very soon')

Subordinate Sentences

What happens when we have two verbs in the same sentence?

We generally use verbs such as querer ('to want'), esperar ('to hope'), desear ('to wish') to introduce new sentences. In these cases, the subordinate verb (the second one) will be in the subjunctive.

Remember: main verb + que + subjunctive

  • Quiero que vengas a visitarme ('I want you to come and visit me').
  • Deseo que pases unas vacaciones estupendas ('I wish you have a great vacation').

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