Using Spanish Subjunctive Verbs in Compound 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.

Expressing wishes, talking about possible plans - we're always using the subjunctive in daily life conversations. Check out this lesson to practice the use of the Spanish subjunctive in compound sentences through lots of real-life examples.

Using the Subjunctive

Let's say you're talking with a Peruvian friend about your next vacation. She asks you if you're traveling, but you're not sure yet. You could say:

  • Ojalá viaje, aunque quizás me quede en la ciudad. (Hopefully I'll travel, although maybe I'll stay in the city.)

In this example, both verbs are in the subjunctive. In the first part of the sentence, we're expressing a wish; in the second one, we're talking about a possibility. So the subjunctive is a set of verbal forms we use to express wishes or desires, or to talk about situations that are possible, uncertain, or unreal. We also use it to make suggestions.

What about its formation? Do you remember the whole list of endings for subjunctive verbs? Let's have a quick reminder of the formation of the present subjunctive in Spanish.

Uses of the Subjunctive.

Present Subjunctive Formation

To form the present subjunctive of regular verbs in Spanish, we need to take the first person singular of the present indicative, get rid of the ending and add the endings below depending on each subject pronoun:

Translation -AR verbs -ER verbs -IR verbs
yo I -e -a -a
you -es -as -as
you formal
-e -a -a
we (feminine plural)
-emos -amos -amos
you plural
you feminine plural
-éis -áis -áis
they/they (fem. plural)
you plural
(Latin America)
-en -an -an

For example, let's take the first person singular of the verb tener (to have), which is tengo (I have):

  • Drop the ending and take its stem: teng-.
  • Tener is an -ER verb, so we have to add the endings from the second column: tenga, tengas, tenga‚Ķ

And there you have the subjunctive forms!

Notice that this is the regular pattern, but there are a few verbs that are irregular, so you will need to learn their specific forms:

  • dar (to give): dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den.
  • estar (to be - location or temporary states): esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén.
  • 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.

Compound Sentences in the Present Subjunctive

Now that we've reviewed the grammar, let's move on to the practice. We're going to see examples of subjunctive verbs in compound sentences.

Compound sentences are sentences formed by joining two or more simple independent clauses with:

  • A comma: (,)
  • A semicolon: (;)

Or a conjunction such as:

  • Y (ee): and
  • Ni (nee): nor
  • O (oh): or
  • Pero (PEH-roh): but
  • Aunque (AH-oon-keh): although
  • Así que (ah-SEE keh): so

The example we used in the introduction is an example of compound sentence, because there are two independent clauses, which are ojalá viaje and quizás me quede en la ciudad, joined with the conjunction aunque.

Let's see more examples of subjunctive verbs with Isabel and Miriam.

Expressing Possibilities & Probabilities

To talk about possibilities or probabilities, use expressions such as the following to introduce your sentences:

  • Probablemente (proh-bah-bleh-MEHN-teh): probably.
  • Posiblemente (poh-see-bleh-MEHN-teh): possibly.
  • Quizás (kee-SAHS): maybe, perhaps.
  • Tal vez (tahl behs): maybe, perhaps.

Christmas is near and Isabel and her friend Miriam are talking about possible plans:

Isabel: Probablemente vaya al centro comercial esta tarde con mi hermana, así que quizás compremos algunos regalos. (I will probably go to the mall this afternoon with my sister, so maybe we'll buy some presents.)

Miriam: Pues quizás nos veamos; tal vez pase por allí. (Well, maybe we'll see each other; I might pass by over there.)

Isabel: Tal vez vayamos sobre las cuatro, aunque quizás mi hermana tenga que irse pronto. (We might go around four, although maybe my sister will have to leave soon.)

Translation: I will possibly go to the mall, so maybe I will buy some presents.

Making Suggestions

We also use the subjunctive to make suggestions in the first person plural (nosotros/as).

Isabel is feeling festive and she'd like to watch a Christmas movie.

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