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The Subjunctive

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The Subjunctive
A few examples
• I want you to give me $5.
• Tom would like us to arrive
before 5:00 am.
• I order you to stop!
• In these three examples, one
person is trying to get another
person to perform an action.
I want you to give me $5.
• One person (I) wants
another person (you) to do
something (give $5).
• However, there is no
guarantee that you will give
me $5 just because I want
you to.
Tom would like us to arrive before 5:00 am.
• Likewise, one person (Tom)
wants someone else (us) to
do something (arrive before
5:00 am).
• There is no guarantee that
we will do so just because
Tom would like that.
I order you to stop!
• This sentence is more
forceful: one person (I) is
telling another person (you)
to do something (stop).
• Again, we don’t know if you
will stop despite the
admonition.
The subjunctive
• In Spanish, we use a special
verb form to show that the
completion of these actions
– give, arrive, stop – may or
may not occur. This form is
called the subjunctive (like
the word “subjective” –
influenced by opinions).
Examples in Spanish
• I want you to give me $5 >>
• Quiero que me des $5.
• Tom would like us to arrive
before 5:00 am >>
• Tom quiere que lleguemos antes
de las 5:00.
• I order you to stop >>
• Te mando que pares.
Forming the Subjunctive
Subjunctive Verb Endings
• -ar Verbs
-ir Verbs
• -e -emos
-er Verbs
• -es -éis
-a
• -e -en
-as -áis
-a
-amos
-an
-a
-amos
-as
-áis
-a
-an
Verb forms
• What about the other subjunctive
forms?
•
•
•
•
•
•
dar
dé
des
dé
demos
den
llegar
llegue
llegues
llegue
lleguemos
lleguen
parar
pare
pares
pare
paremos
paren
A few examples
• What are the subjunctive forms of the
following verbs?
• hablar
• hable, hables, hable, hablemos, hablen
• comer
• coma, comas, coma, comamos, coman
• vivir
• viva, vivas, viva, vivamos, vivan
Too easy!
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
How about some trickier ones?
Salir
Salga, salgas, salga, salgamos, salgan
– Remember to start with the yo form, salgo
Ser
Sea, seas, sea, seamos, sean
– The yo forms that don’t end in –o are irregular in
the command form and, consequently, the
subjunctive.
Comenzar
Comience, comiences, comience, comencemos,
comiencen
– Remember that stem-changing verbs don’t change
in the nosotros form!
A few tricky ones
• Dormir
• Duerma, duermas, duerma,
durmamos, duerman
• Servir
• Sirva, sirvas, sirva, sirvamos,
sirvan
– Stem-changing IR verbs change
in the nosotros form.
Now let’s put this all together.
• Quiero que me des $5.
• Tom quiere que lleguemos
antes de las 5:00.
• Te mando que pares.
Tom quiere | que | lleguemos antes de las 5:00.
• The sentence structure in Spanish is a bit
different from that of English. A wordfor-word translation is “Tom wants that
we arrive before 5:00.”
• The word que is used to divide the
sentence into two halves – the expression
of wish or desire (Tom quiere) and the
action that may or may not occur
(lleguemos).
• The verb in the first half uses the
“normal” (“indicative”) form, while the
verb in the second half uses the
subjunctive.
Notice…
• … that the subject in the first
half is always different from
the subject in the second half:
– Quiero que me des $5.
– Tom quiere que lleguemos...
– Te mando que pares.
• The first subject is trying to
spur the second subject into
action, and we don’t know if
the action will ever happen.
Let’s practice!
• What are the appropriate
subjunctive forms of the verbs
in parentheses?
• Quiero que tú _____ (venir) a
las 3:00 en punto.
• Quiero que tú vengas a las
3:00 en punto.
– We use the subjunctive because
there is a change in subject after
a verb of desire (quiero).
¡Quiero que me des otro!
• ¿Quieres que nosotros ______
(ir) al cine o a la playa esta
tarde?
• Pues, quiero que ______
(quedarse = stay) en casa porque
hace frío.
• ¿Quieres que nosotros vayamos
al cine o a la playa esta tarde?
• Pues, quiero que nos quedemos
en casa porque hace frío.
Uno más…
• Espero [I hope] que tu hermana
____ (salir) bien en sus exámenes.
• Espero que tu hermana salga bien en
sus exámenes.
– We use the subjunctive after different
types of verbs – wishes, wants, and
orders. Here is another type: hopes.
– We use the subjunctive because we
aren’t sure whether the second action
will occur (Will your sister do well on
her exams? That remains to be seen!).
Más ejemplos
• Mi mamá quiere que yo ____ (ser)
doctor, y mi papá espera que
_____ (estudiar) para ser
ingeniero, pero yo quiero ____
(ser) actor.
• Mi mamá quiere que yo sea
doctor, y mi papá espera que
estudie para ser ingeniero, pero yo
quiero ser actor
– There is no change in subject in the
third expression (“yo quiero”), so we
don’t use the subjunctive!
Let’s review the uses
• We started by looking at one
basic use of the subjunctive: it is
used with verbs that express
desires and wants.
• We then saw how the subjunctive
is also used with verbs that
express hope and regret.
• Are there any others?
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Here’s an acronym to help
you organize the major
uses of the subjunctive:
• U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
– Thanks to members of the
FLTEACH listserv for this
acronym.
– One list member credits the
series “Sing, Dance, Laugh,
and Eat Tacos” – you might
want to check it out!
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Uncertainty:
• No creo [I don’t believe] que
Laura venga a la fiesta.
• No pienso que pueda venir.
• Tal vez [perhaps] llegue
tarde hoy por el tráfico.
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Wishes
• Quiero que tú puedas
visitarme durante las
vacaciones.
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Emotion
• Me alegro que hayas
recibido una “A” en la clase
de historia.
• Me enfada [it angers me]
que Juan no trabaje más en
este proyecto.
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Impersonal expressions
• Es ridículo que Gloria sea la
presidenta del club de alemán – ella
recibió una “D-” en su clase el
semestre pasado.
– Impersonal expressions don’t have a
“human” subject.
– Some impersonal expressions in Spanish
include: es bueno, es malo, es necesario,
es difícil, es imposible, es triste…
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Regret
• Lo siento que tu abuela esté
enferma.
• Lamento que no podamos
asistir a la reunión.
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Doubt
• Dudo que alguien sea
capaz de sacar un 100% en
el examen final de física –
¡es un curso muy difícil!
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Order
• Te mando que pares.
• Te prohibo que uses tus
apuntes [notes] durante el
examen.
Wow!
• That’s a lot!!
• If you continue your studies
in Spanish, you will be
certain to see these uses and
many others.
• But for now, just concentrate
on wishes and desires!
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