Using the Present Subjunctive in Spanish to Express Desire & Uncertainty

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  • 0:00 Review of Present Subjunctive
  • 1:49 Desire, Influence and Will
  • 3:13 Practice (Practicar)
  • 6:15 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.

Today, we will focus on the present subjunctive and how expressing desire, influence and will trigger the use of the subjunctive tense. We will also use some vocabulary related to literature.

Review of Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive is used to express a hypothetical situation, doubt, influence, or certain emotions in the present tense. We conjugate verbs in the subjunctive when there are four specific elements involved:

1. A trigger

2. The word 'que'

3. Two clauses

4. Two subjects

To conjugate a regular verb in the present subjunctive, take the 'yo' form of the verb in the present tense. Then get rid of the letter 'o' and add the following endings according to the subject:

-AR -e, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en

-ER -a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an

-IR -a, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an

For example: 'Yo quiero que usted lea la poesía.'

1. The trigger is the verb 'querer' expressing a desire.

2. Notice the word 'que.'

3. 'Yo quiero' is clause one, and 'usted lea la poesía' is clause two.

4. 'Yo' is subject one, and 'usted' is subject two.

Because all four elements were met, the verb 'leer' was conjugated in the subjunctive: 'lea.'

Now, let's learn other common verbs used to express desires, seek to influence others, and express your will.

Desire, Influence, and Will

This list contains some of the most commonly used verbs when expressing desire, influence, and will. Let's take a look at them and begin to memorize them.

Verb Meaning
desear to wish or desire
esperar to hope or to expect
importar to be important
necesitar to need
pedir to ask for
preferir to prefer
querer to want
recomendar to recommend
sugerir to suggest

Espero que usted entienda la lista. Recomiendo que lea las palabras muchas veces. Sugiero que practique mucho. Quiero que aprenda el subjuntivo. Es necesario que use subjuntivo en español. Deseo que vea el subjuntivo en estas frases.


Now, it is your turn to practice deciding whether or not the subjunctive is triggered and also practice conjugating.

Read the sentences below and decide whether or not the subjunctive is triggered and state why.

1. Necesitamos leer el periódico para la clase.

Answer: Subjunctive is not triggered because there is no word 'que.' There are not two subjects, and there are not two clauses

2. Quieren que la escritora escriba otro libro.

Answer: Subjunctive is triggered because all four elements are present and 'querer' expresses desire.

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