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The Subjunctive

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The Subjunctive
The Subjunctive
The Subjunctive
• In this slide show, we
are going to look at a
verb form that has all
but disappeared from
English – 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.
The forms of the subjunctive
Before we learn usage, we must learn the forms we will be working
with. Think of it as learning the mechanics or “nuts and bolts”
before assembling the tool.
For all but six verbs in Spanish, we can apply a simple threestep process with which to construct the forms.
Step 1: Start with the yo form of the verb in the present
tense (this applies to all three conjugations):
hablo
como
vivo
The forms of the subjunctive
Step 1: Start with the yo form of the verb in the present
tense (this applies to all three conjugations):
hablo
como
vivo
If we are careful to begin with this step, verbs with irregular
stems and yo forms will be included and will not be
considered irregular in the subjunctive:
conocer → conozco oír → oigo
decir → digo
pedir → pido
dormir → duermo
perder → pierdo
hacer → hago
querer → quiero
tener → tengo
traer → traigo
venir → vengo
ver → veo
The forms of the subjunctive
Step 2: Take off the final o of the yo form:
hablo
como
vivo
Step 3: Add the “opposite” endings:
For -ar verbs: Add -er verb endings.
hable
hables
hable
hablemos
habléis
hablen
Notice that the first- and third-person singular forms are identical.
The forms of the subjunctive
Step 3: Add the “opposite” endings:
For -er and -ir verbs: Add -ar verb endings to both.
coma
comas
coma
comamos
comáis
coman
viva
vivas
viva
vivamos
viváis
vivan
Again, first- and third-person singular forms are identical.
The forms of the subjunctive
Stem-changing -ar and -er verbs have the same stem changes
as in the present indicative.
recordar (o  ue)
recuerde
recuerdes
recuerde
recordemos
recuerden
perder (e  ie)
pierda
pierdas
pierda
perdamos
pierdan
Remember, however, that stem changes do not
apply to nosotros forms.
The forms of the subjunctive
You may recall the third-person singular and plural changes
that occur in the preterit of stem-changing -ir verbs.
dormimos
dormir  dormí
dormiste dormisteis
durmió
durmieron
u
The same changes occur in the
nosotros and vosotros forms of
the subjunctive.
These changes occur
only in stem-changing
-ir verbs.
duerma durmamos
duermas durmáis
duerma duerman
The forms of the subjunctive
You may recall the third-person singular and plural changes
that occur in the preterit of stem-changing -ir verbs.
mentimos
mentir  mentí
mentiste mentisteis
mintió mintieron
i
mienta
mientas
mienta
mintamos
mintáis
mientan
The forms of the subjunctive
You may recall the third-person singular and plural changes
that occur in the preterit of stem-changing -ir verbs.
servir 
i
serví
servimos
serviste servisteis
sirvió
sirvieron
sirva
sirvas
sirva
sirvamos
sirváis
sirvan
The forms of the subjunctive
The following spelling changes occur in all forms of the
present subjunctive with verbs whose infinitives end in -car, gar, and -zar.
-car c  qu
buscar
busque
busques
busque
busquemos
busquéis
busquen
-gar g  gu
llegar
llegue
llegues
llegue
lleguemos
lleguéis
lleguen
-zar z  c
empezar
empiece
empieces
empiece
empecemos
empecéis
empiecen
The forms of the subjunctive
There are only six truly irregular verbs, that is, verbs to
which we cannot apply our three-step process.
When listed in the following order, the initial letters of each
verb form the acronym DISHES, a useful memory device.
Dar  dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den
Ir  vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan
Ser  sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean
Haber  haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan
Estar  esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén
Saber  sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan
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.
The usage of the subjunctive
The subjunctive normally occurs in the subordinate
clause of a two-part sentence (hence the term
subjunctive) and generally is preceded by the relator
que or an adverb such as cuando, donde, etc.
Normally, the main clause has a different subject and
verb than the subordinate clause.
main clause
subordinate clause
Yo quiero que Juan vaya a la fiesta.
S1
V1
S2
V2
The usage of the subjunctive
If there is no change of subject, that is, if the subject
of the main clause is the same as that of the
subordinate clause, the subjunctive is generally not
used, especially with verbs of volition, such as
querer, and verbs that express emotion.
main clause
subordinate clause
Yo quiero que yo vaya a la fiesta.
S1
V1
S1 V2
Although there are two different verbs . . .
. . . there is only one subject.
The usage of the subjunctive
If there is no change of subject, that is, if the subject
of the main clause is the same as that of the
subordinate clause, the subjunctive is generally not
used, especially with verbs of volition, such as
querer, and verbs that express emotion.
In these cases only one clause is necessary . . .
Yo quiero ir a la fiesta.
S
AV
INF
. . . utilizing a subject, auxiliary verb, and infinitive.
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.
Compare this…
• … to sentences where there is no
change in subject:
– Quiero salir ahora.
– Tom quiere llegar a las 5.
– Me gustaría comer pizza.
• When the subject is the same, there
is higher probability that the
second action will take place. We
use the infinitive (-r form of the
verb) after verbs that express
wishes, wants, and desires.
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
____ (hacer) bien en sus exámenes.
• Espero que tu hermana haga bien en
sus exámenes.
– 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!
Otro uso
• Lo siento [I’m sorry] que tu abuela
____ (estar) enferma. Espero que ___
(mejorarse = to get better) pronto.
• Lo siento que tu abuela esté enferma.
Espero que se mejore pronto.
– Another use of the subjunctive is with
verbs of “regret,” such as saying “I’m
sorry.” This is a little different from the
other uses in that the second action has
actually happened (i.e., your grandmother
really is sick), but the subject in the first
half is expressing an opinion and is
therefore ‘influencing’ the second verb.
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.
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.
The Spanish Subjunctive
Notice the following examples:
Creo que Luis va a Cartagena.
I believe that Luis is going to Cartagena.
(Certainty: indicative)
No creo que Luis vaya a San Andrés.
I don’t think that Luis is going to San
Andrés. (Uncertainty: subjunctive)
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.
The usage of the subjunctive
Following are some common verbs and expressions that express
emotion.
gustar
alegrarse (de)
asombrar sorprender
temer
esperar
apenar
entristecer
sentir
estar alegre, contento, triste, etc.
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…
The usage of the subjunctive
Following are some common impersonal expressions. The
expressions will always be followed by ‘que’.
es importante
es permisible
es necesario
es preferible
es mejor
es urgente
es triste
es bueno
es una lástima
es terrible
es maravilloso
es horroroso
es fantástico
es dudoso
es (im)posible
No es verdad
No es cierto
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!
The usage of the subjunctive
Following are some common verbs and expressions that express
doubt:
No creer
No afirmar
Negar
No estar seguro
No confirmar
Dudar
No jurar
No asegurar
No poder creer
U. W. E. I. R. D. O.
• Order
• Te mando que pares.
• Te prohibo que uses tus
apuntes [notes] durante el
examen.
The usage of the subjunctive
Following are some common verbs and expressions that might be
used to give orders
querer
pedir
necesitar
no permitir
insistir
permitir
sugerir
recomendar
aconsejar
impedir
mandar
obligar
prohibir
The usage of the subjunctive
Finally, the subjunctive is always used after the
following phrases (and a few other similar ones).
When listed in the order shown below, they form the
acronym ESCAPA, a useful memory device.
E
en caso de que
(in case)
S
sin que
(without, unless)
C
A
con tal (de) que
antes (de) que
(provided that)
(before)
P
para que
(so that, in order that)
A
a menos que
(unless)
Wow!
• That’s a lot!!
• If you continue your studies
in Spanish, you will be
certain to see these uses and
many others.
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