Subjunctive Spanish – Rules & 30 Easy Examples

If you are a native English speaker, the so-called subjunctive mood in Spanish might prove quite challenging. 

After all, in the English language, it is virtually unrecognizable and expressed with the infinitive, future, or past forms of verbs, depending on the context. 

Most of my students struggle to learn how to create the Spanish subjunctive, and even more – when to use it. 

I presume many of you, my dear learners of Spanish, might have similar problems. This is why today I’d like to systemize the key rules of this tricky grammar form and provide you with as many examples of its use as possible. 

Key Things to Remember about the Spanish Subjunctive

  • There are 2 most used types of the subjunctive: Subjuntivo Presente and Imperfecto del Subjuntivo 
  • For regular verbs, subjunctive conjugation rules will help you form it
  • However, many common verbs have irregular subjunctive forms
  • Use the Spanish subjunctive mood to express prohibitions, uncertainty, unreality, subjectivity, necessity, desire, doubt, judgment, supposition, and such
  • Past Subjunctive is necessary when you talk about unrealistic conditions
  • Certain expressions – such as “ojalá”, a menos que”, “para que”, “sin que”, etc –  require the use of Subjuntivo Presente 

I realize it is a lot to wrap your mind around. But bear with me. I’ll do my best to make the Spanish subjunctive as clear to you as possible. 

The Two Types of The Spanish Subjunctive And Their Conjugation

Have a look at these examples:

🇪🇸 No creo que llueva hoy.
🇬🇧 I don’t think it’ll rain today.

🇪🇸 Necesito que me ayudes. 
🇬🇧 I need you to help me. 

🇪🇸 Dudo que te den el aumento de sueldo. 
🇬🇧 I doubt they will give you a salary raise. 

🇪🇸 Quiero que dejes de fumar.
🇬🇧 I want you to quit smoking. 

All the verbs marked in red represent the present form of the subjunctive mood, the so-called Subjuntivo Presente. 

Subjuntivo Presente – How to Conjugate The Regular Verbs

At this point, you are probably familiar with the three types of Spanish verbs: the ones with -AR, -ER, and -IR endings. 

The recipe for their present subjunctive form is actually pretty straightforward. 


1. Take the 3rd person singular of the verb you need in Present. 

2. If it ends with A, change it to E:

él trabaja – trabaje
él limpia – limpie
él cocina – cocine

3. If the present form of the verb ends with E in the 3rd person singular, change it to A:

él come – coma
él escribe – escriba
él vive – viva

4. To complete the conjugation of the subjunctive mood, follow the same pattern as in present, using the new letter. For example:

yo trabaje                          yo coma                          yo escriba
tú trabajes                         tú comas                         tú escribas
él trabaje                           él coma                           él escriba
nosotros trabajemos         nosotros comamos         nosotros escribamos
vosotros trabajéis             vosotros comáis              vosotros escribáis
ellos trabajen                    ellos coman                     ellos escriban   

Let’s check out how to apply these rules in meaningful sentences, shall we?

🇪🇸 Mi marido no quiere que yo trabaje. 
🇬🇧 My husband doesn’t want me to work. 

🇪🇸 No lo comas si no tienes hambre. 
🇬🇧 Don’t eat it if you are not hungry. 

🇪🇸 El gerente pide que los trabajadores escriban informes semanales. 
🇬🇧 The manager asks the employees to write weekly reports

How about some other regular verbs?

PENSAR – to think

🇪🇸 No quiero que pienses mal de mí.
🇬🇧 I don’t want you to think badly of me. 

PASAR – to pass

🇪🇸 Ojalá todos pasemos la prueba.
🇬🇧 I don’t want you to think badly of me.

CONTAR- to tell

🇪🇸 No te perdonaré a menos que me cuentes la verdad.
🇬🇧 I won’t forgive you unless you tell me the truth.

PEDIR – to order

🇪🇸 Test Your Spanish Knowledge 🇪🇸

🇪🇸 Te propongo que pidamos algo para comer.
🇬🇧 I suggest we order something to eat. 

See? As long as you remember the letter swapping rule, it all becomes crystal clear. 

Common Irregular Present Subjunctive Conjugations in Spanish

Trust me, I hate to be a wet blanket. But when it comes to Modo Subjuntivo, Spanish is loaded with exceptions. To make matters worse, it is the most common and useful verbs that tend to escape the rules.

Let’s make a list of the Key Irregular Subjunctive Conjugations in Spanish: 

Spanish infinitiveEnglish meaningPresent Subjunctive Form for 1st person singular
to go
to be
to be
to have
to come
to know
there be
to do
to pay
to tell

These new forms might look tricky at first, but there is nothing you can´t do if you apply the right learning techniques!

Would you like me to show you a few examples of how to use the irregular subjunctives in Spanish? Here we go:

🇪🇸 No quiero que vayamos a la fiesta, prefiero quedarme en casa. 
🇬🇧 I don’t want us to go to the party, I’d rather stay home. 

🇪🇸 Te deseo que seas siempre feliz. 
🇬🇧 I hope you are always happy. 

🇪🇸 No puedo permitir que lo hagáis todo solos. 
🇬🇧 I can’t allow you to do everything by yourselves. 

🇪🇸 No creo que haya mucha gente. 
🇬🇧 I don’t think there’ll be many people. 

🇪🇸 Les invito (a ustedes) a que vengan a mi fiesta de cumpleaños. 
🇬🇧 I invite you to come to my birthday party. 

🇪🇸 Te ruego que me digas la verdad. 
🇬🇧 I beg you to tell me the truth. 

🇪🇸 No es recomendable que el niño esté solo tanto tiempo.
🇬🇧 It is not advisable for the kid to be alone for so long. 

So many useful expressions! I am sure you’ll all find something here to add to your everyday Spanish. 

Past Subjunctive in Spanish – The Must-Know Part of Conditional Sentences

Now that you have a good grasp of the present form of the Spanish subjunctive, let’s spend a few moments discussing what it looks like in the Past. 

The examples below will help you get what it is that I am talking about:

🇪🇸 Ojalá fuera 20 años más joven.
🇬🇧 I wish I was 20 years younger. 

🇪🇸 Si supiera la verdad, te la diría. 
🇬🇧 If I knew the truth, I’d tell you. 

🇪🇸 Te dije que no compraras tanta ropa.
🇬🇧 I told you not to buy so many clothes. 

🇪🇸 Si ganara la lotería, me iría de viaje a Australia.
🇬🇧 If I won the lottery, I’d go on a trip to Australia. 

🇪🇸 No saldría contigo, a menos que me pidieras perdón primero. 
🇬🇧 I wouldn’t go out with you unless you’d apologize to me first. 

🇪🇸 Mi jefe me llamó para que le dijera dónde guardamos el papel de impresora. 
🇬🇧 My boss called me so that I could tell him where we keep printing paper. 

I’ve seen students rage over these strange -ARA, -ERA conjugations, when in fact, they are way easier than they seem. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing the right rules. 


Remember how Subjuntivo Presente was based on the Present Form of Spanish verbs? Now, let’s move one step back…right to the Preterito Perfecto (the equivalent of the English Past Simple Tense). 

This time we are going to use the 3rd person plural as our reference:

The -AR verbs:
ellos trabajaron – trabajaran
ellos viajaron – viajaran
ellos se sentaron – sentaran

The -ER and -IR verbs:
ellos comieron – comieran
ellos aprendieron – aprendieran
ellos escribieron – escribieran
ellos repitieron – repitieran 

As you can see it is a simple question of swapping the letter O for the letter A. Piece of cake!

Now let’s see the complete conjugation of this so-called Imperfecto de Subjuntivo

yo trabajara                                   yo comiera                              yo escribiera
tú trabajaras                                  tú comieras                             tú escribieras
él trabajara                                    él comiera                               él escribiera
nosotros trabajáramos                  nosotros comiéramos             nosotros escribiéramos
vosotros trabajarais                      vosotros comierais                  vosotros escribierais
ellos trabajaran                             ellos comieran                         ellos escribieran

Are there any irregular conjugations for the Spanish Past Subjunctive? 

Brace for a major surprise: no, there aren’t!

As long as you know what the past form of the verb was, you’ll always be able to rely on it when forming the Imperfecto de Subjuntivo, even with the typically irregular verbs.

ellos fueron – yo fuera, tú fueras, etc.
ellos tuvieron – yo tuviera, tú tuvieras, etc.
ellos hicieron – yo hiciera, tú hicieras, etc.
ellos pudieron – yo pudiera, tú pudieras, etc. 
ellos vinieron – yo viniera, tú vinieras, etc.

For the first time ever, Spanish grammar is a good sport! 🙂

Time for the most important test: will you be able to use the Spanish Subjunctive in real life? 

As I said, it almost always comes with the “IF” clauses also known as conditional sentences.

Examples of Imperfecto del Subjuntivo:

🇪🇸 Si tuviera una casa en la playa, pasaría allí todos los veranos. 
🇬🇧 If I had a beach house, I would spend every summer there. 

🇪🇸 Si no te amara no me casaría contigo. 
🇬🇧 If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t marry you. 

🇪🇸 Si hablara español fluido, recorrería toda Sudamérica. 
🇬🇧 If I spoke fluent Spanish, I’d travel all across South America. 

🇪🇸 ¿Qué harías si fueras el presidente de tu país? 
🇬🇧 What would you do if you were the president of your country?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué país elegirías si pudieras vivir donde sea?
🇬🇧 What country would you choose if you could live anywhere?

🇪🇸 Si no estuviera tan cansada, te ayudaría a limpiar la casa.
🇬🇧 If I weren’t so tired, I’d help you clean the house.

Speaking of which, do you know what different parts of the house are called in Spanish? If you feel it’s time for a quick review, read my post dedicated to household vocabulary. 

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Joanna Lupa
Joanna Lupa
Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.

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