The Spanish Subjunctive: An Introduction
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The Spanish Subjunctive: An Introduction. (El subjuntivo español: una introducción). Quiero que Ud. pase por el Control de Agricultura. The Spanish Subjunctive.

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The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The Spanish Subjunctive: An Introduction

(El subjuntivo español: una introducción)

Quiero que Ud. pase por el Control de Agricultura.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The Spanish Subjunctive

Until now, you have been using verb tenses (present, preterit, and imperfect) in the indicative mood (or mode). The indicative is used to express real, definite, or factual actions or states of being.

In this chapter, you will learn about the subjunctive mode. It is used to express the hypothetical or subjective, such as a speaker’s attitudes, wishes, feelings, emotions, or doubts. Unlike the indicative, which states facts, the subjunctive describes reality subjectively, or refers to actions or states that are not yet reality at all (and maybe never will be).


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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)


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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 three-step 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 spanish subjunctive an introduction

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

tener → tengo

decir → digo

pedir → pido

traer → traigo

dormir → duermo

venir → vengo

perder → pierdo

hacer → hago

ver → veo

querer → quiero


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The forms of the subjunctive

Step 2: Take off the final o of the yo form:

habl

o

com

o

viv

o

Step 3: Add the “opposite” endings:

For -ar verbs: Add -er verb endings.

habl

e

habl

emos

habl

es

habl

éis

habl

e

habl

en

Notice that the first- and third-person singular forms are identical.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The forms of the subjunctive

Step 3: Add the “opposite” endings:

For -er and -ir verbs: Add -ar verb endings to both.

com

a

com

amos

com

as

com

áis

com

a

com

an

viv

a

viv

amos

viv

as

viv

áis

viv

a

viv

an

Again, first- and third-person singular forms are identical.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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

recordéis

recuerden

perder (e  ie)

pierda

pierdas

pierda

perdamos

perdáis

pierdan

Remember, however, that stem changes do not apply to nosotros and vosotros forms.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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.

preterit

dormir

dormí

dormiste

durmió

dormimos

dormisteis

durmieron

u

These changes occur only in stem-changing -ir verbs.

The same changes occur in the nosotros and vosotros forms of the subjunctive.

duerma

duermas

duerma

durmamos

durmáis

duerman

present

subjunctive


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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.

preterit

mentir

mentí

mentiste

mintió

mentimos

mentisteis

mintieron

i

mintamos

mintáis

mientan

mienta

mientas

mienta

present

subjunctive


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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.

preterit

servir

serví

serviste

sirvió

servimos

servisteis

sirvieron

i

sirvamos

sirváis

sirvan

sirva

sirvas

sirva

present

subjunctive


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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

-gar g  gu

-zar z  c

buscar

llegar

empezar

busque

llegue

empiece

busques

llegues

empieces

busque

llegue

empiece

busquemos

lleguemos

empecemos

busquéis

lleguéis

empecéis

busquen

lleguen

empiecen


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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.

dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den

Dar 

Ir 

Ser 

Haber 

Estar 

Saber 

vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan

sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan

esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén

sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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 quieroque Juan vaya a la fiesta.

S1

V1

S2

V2


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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 quieroqueyo vaya a la fiesta.

S1

V1

S1

V2

Although there are two different verbs . . .

. . . there is only one subject.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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 quieroir a la fiesta.

S

AV

INF

. . . utilizing a subject,

auxiliary verb,

and infinitive.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

The verb or expression in the main clause determines whether to use the subjunctive or the indicative in the subordinate clause.

Three simple principles can be applied in almost every case.

If the main clause expresses . . .

1.Cause or prevention.

2.Personal bias or emotion.

3.Falseness or unreality.

. . . the subjunctive is used in the subordinate clause.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

1. Cause or prevention: When the subject in the main clause uses a verb that tends to cause or prevent something in the subordinate clause, the subjunctive is always used in the subordinate clause.

(Notice thatqueunites the two clauses.)

  • Benjamín quiere que Antonioponga la mesa.

(indicative: pone)

  • Yo insisto en que tú hagas el trabajo.

(indicative: haces)

  • Prohibimos que los clientes fumen en la oficina.

(indicative: fuman)


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

Following are some common verbs and expressions that might be used to cause or prevent.

Cause

quererinsistirrecomendarmandar

pedirpermitiraconsejarobligar

necesitarsugerir

ser importante, imprescindible, permisible, necesario, innecesario, preferible, mejor, urgente

Prevention

impedirprohibirno permitir


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

2. Personal bias or emotion: When the verb in the main clause expresses a feeling, emotion, or personal bias, the subjunctive is usually (but not always) used in the subordinate clause.

NOTE: It is in this area of Spanish that the subjunctive is most quickly falling into disuse,and is being replaced by the indicative.

Nevertheless, for instructional purposes, we will always use the subjunctive in these cases.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

2. Personal bias or emotion: When the verb in the main clause expresses a feeling, emotion, or personal bias, the subjunctive is usually (but not always) used in the subordinate clause.

  • Me alegro de que tú saques buenas notas.

(indicative: sacas)

  • ¡Qué lástima que ellos no sepansu número de teléfono!

(indicative: saben)

  • Lamento que hayas perdido tu dinero.

(indicative: has perdido)

  • Me gusta que Alfredo te ayude.

(indicative: ayuda)


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

But, again, just as with verbs of volition, if there is no change of subject, a single clause with infinitive is used rather than the subjunctive.

  • Me alegro de sacar buenas notas.

  • Lamentohaber perdido mi dinero.

  • Me gustaayudarte.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

Following are some common verbs and expressions that express personal bias or emotion.

gustaralegrarse (de)apenar

asombrarsorprenderentristecer

temeresperarsentir

ser tristeser una lástimaser maravilloso

ser bueno, terrible, horroroso, fantástico, etc.

estar alegre, contento, triste, etc.

ojalá


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

3. Falseness or unreality: If the main clause indicates that something is true or indeed exists, the indicative is used in the subordinate clause.

  • Es verdad que los niños comen demasiado.

  • Estoy seguro que Alonzo tiene su pasaporte.

By contrast, if the main clause indicates doubt, falseness or unreality, the subjunctive is used in the subordinate clause.

  • No creemos que vaya a nevar mañana.

  • Mis amigos dudan que yo pueda pilotear el avión.

  • No hay nadie que sepa la verdad.


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

But, once more, if there is no change of subject, one clause with an infinitive can be used in many cases.

  • No estoy seguro de tener mi pasaporte.

(No estoy seguro de que yo tenga mi pasaporte.)

  • No creo saber la verdad.

(No creo que yo sepa la verdad.)

  • Dudo poder pilotear el avión.

(Dudo que yo pueda pilotear el avión.)


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

The usage of the subjunctive

Following are some common verbs and expressions that express truth or falseness.

Truth

creerestar segurojurar

afirmarconfirmarasegurar

ser ciertoser indudableser evidente

ser obvioser verdadser (estar) claro

Falseness

no creernegarno estar seguro

dudarno poder creer

ser (im)posibleser (im)probable

no ser verdadno ser cierto


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

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)

con tal (de) que

(provided that)

C

antes (de) que

(before)

A

(so that, in order that)

P

para que

a menos que

A

(unless)


The spanish subjunctive an introduction

FIN


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