Subjunctive Spanish Endings for -AR Verbs in Every Tense
What exactly is the Spanish subjunctive and what’s the big deal about their endings?
It’s a grammatical mood used when the speaker feels uncertain about the action of the sentence or is expressing a subjective opinion. In other words, it expresses the meaning of the verb as a non-reality: Si fuera contenta. (If I were content.)
In this case, contentment is a wish, and therefore not part of the current reality.
Did you know that the subjunctive actually does exist in English? However, English doesn’t always use a specific subjunctive conjugation, while Spanish does. This is why it can be tricky for native English speakers to learn and incorporate the subjunctive in their Spanish.
This post will help you understand how to conjugate -ar verbs with Spanish subjunctive endings in every tense. Let’s get started!
Conjugating Regular -AR Verbs
For regular -ar verb endings, start with the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative.
In general, for the subjunctive, you replace the a with an e. The one exception is for the first person singular conjugation (yo), in which you need to replace the o with an e.
Conjugating Irregular -AR Verbs
Although there are not as many irregular -ar verbs as irregular -er and -ir verbs, they do still exist.
The following three groups of -ar verbs require a change in the final letter in the stem due to hard versus soft vowel pronunciation:
For verbs that end in -car, the c becomes qu.
Present Subjunctive Conjugation—Sacar (to take out/remove)
For verbs that end in -zar, the z becomes c.
Present Subjunctive Conjugation—Empezar (to start)
For verbs that end in -gar, the g becomes gu.
Present Subjunctive Conjugation—Llegar (to arrive)
Interestingly, the present subjunctive stem for the verb averiguar is averigü-.
Dar & Estar
The subjunctive form of the verbs dar and estar contain accents, to differentiate them from the words de and este.
Dar: dé, des, dé, demos, den
Estar: esté, estés, esté, estemos, estén
Using WEIRDO Verbs with the Subjunctive
The acronym WEIRDO stands for Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal Expressions, Recommendations, Doubt/Denial, and Ojalá. You’re likely to use the subjunctive in these situations.
The category of wishes includes wishing, wanting, demanding, desiring, expecting, ordering, and preferring.
Esperamos que su cuñada cocine bien.
We hope that her sister-in-law cooks well.
Feelings in this category include annoyance, anger, happiness, regret, sadness, fear, and surprise.
Me alegro de que bailes.
It makes me happy that you dance.
Impersonal expressions show an opinion or value judgement. They are subjective statements and do not necessarily reflect the actual truth or reality of the situation.
Es necesario que Maria cocine con menos sal.
It is necessary that Maria cook with less salt.
The subjunctive is also used when a person wants, asks, recommends, or suggests that another person do (or not do) something.
Mi doctor recomienda que tome más vitaminas.
My doctor recommends I take more vitamins.
Doubt and Denial
To doubt or deny something is to question its connection with reality or to express that it is hypothetical.
Dudo que él hable mucho en español.
I doubt that he speaks much Spanish.
Ojalá means I hope/pray to God, God willing, I hope, I wish, or if only.
¡Ojalá que recuerden mi cumpleaños!
I hope they remember my birthday!
When to Use the Present Subjunctive
Use the present subjunctive when you want to express uncertainty, desire, beliefs, or possibilities. All of these scenarios are in the realm of the unreal.
Here are the situations in which you’d use the present subjunctive in conversation:
1. When Using Dependent Clauses Introduced By Que
Dependent (or subordinate) clauses are a combination of words that cannot stand alone as a sentence because they are not a complete idea. They provide additional information to enhance an independent clause.
Es posible que vayamos a la casa de mi abuela.
It’s possible that we will go to my grandmother’s house.
2. When Using Adjective Clauses Introduced By Que
Adjective clauses are a combination of words that function as an adjective, a word that describes a noun.
An adjective clause that begins with the relative pronoun que can either be in subjunctive or indicative. This depends entirely on the context of what we’re saying.
Busco una casa que me guste.
I am looking for a house that I like.
Quiero una camisa que tenga rayas de blanco y negro.
I want a shirt that has black and white stripes.
3. After certain conjunctions
Conjunctions are words or sets of words that allow us to join words, phrases, and clauses. There are certain conjunctions that call for the subjunctive because they express doubt, uncertainty, or condition. Here are some common expressions that may indicate that the action that follows has not yet been completed. These expressions will always invoke the subjunctive:
a menos que (unless)
antes (de) que (before)
con tal (de) que (provided that)
en caso de que (in case)
para que (so that)
sin que (without)
When to Use the Present Perfect Subjunctive
The present perfect subjunctive is a combination of the present subjunctive of the verb haber and a past participle. It is used to talk about past actions connected to the present and actions that will have been completed in the future.
Here’s how to form haber in the present subjunctive.
él, ella, usted haya
ellos, ellas, ustedes hayan
Past Actions Connected to the Present
The present perfect subjunctive can be used to talk about actions that happened in the past but are relevant in the present. It’s commonly used to talk about things that just happened.
Me asustó de que usted me haya llamado.
I am shocked that you called me.
Es bueno que hayamos hablado.
It is good that we talked.
Lamentamos que ella no haya podido venir a la fiesta.
We regret that she was unable to come to the party.
Actions That Will Have Been Completed in the Future
The present perfect subjunctive is also used to talk about things that are expected to be done by a point in the future.
Quiero que hayas pintado 5 obras de arte para este mismo momento de la semana que viene.
I want you to have painted 5 artworks by this time next week.
Es posible que ustedes hayan regresado para abril.
It is possible that you all will have returned by April.
When to Use the Imperfect (Past Tense) Subjunctive
The imperfect subjunctive is used in two distinct ways.
First, in dependent clauses and adjective clauses introduced by the relative pronoun que when the previous clause uses a past tense verb.
Me gustó que trajeras el pastel. – I liked that you brought cake.
With Conditional If Clauses
Note that the conditional conjugation is used when the timing in the sentence is fixed.
Si fuera lunes, iría al mercado. – If it were Monday, I would go to the market.
The subjunctive is used in the following situations:
Unreal or hypothetical
Si fuera una mala idea, te lo diría. – If it was a bad idea, I would tell you.
Imaginary situations in the past
Si me hubieras llamado, habría contestado. – If you would have called me, I would have answered.
When to Use the Past Perfect Subjunctive
The past perfect subjunctive is formed with the imperfect subjunctive of the verb haber and a past participle.
The imperfect subjunctive of haber can be conjugated in two different ways. Both are correct, though use of hubiera is more widespread. Although hubiese is used sometimes in speech, it is more commonly seen in literature.
The past perfect subjunctive is commonly used to talk about past hypotheticals, conditionals, and past actions preceding other past actions.
Ojalá que hubiera sabido. – I wish I had known.
¿Y si Don Quijote hubiera tenido razón sobre los molinos? – What if Don Quijote had been right about the windmills?
Si hubiera escuchado, lo habría investigado. – If I had heard, I would have investigated it.
Si hubiera tenido más tiempo, habría visitado el museo. – If I had had more time, I would have visited the museum.
Actions Preceding Other Past Actions
Paola dudó que yo hubiera ido a Chile. – Paola doubted that I had been to Chile.
Mamá no creyó que hubieras limpiado el cuarto. – Mom did not believe that you had cleaned the room.
When to Use the Future & Future Perfect Subjunctive
The future and future perfect subjunctive forms are becoming obsolete in modern Spanish, so you aren’t likely to ever hear them. In spoken Spanish, they’re generally replaced by the present or present perfect subjunctive. However, since these forms may still be found in writing (primarily literature and legal documents), it’s good to be able to recognize them.
To conjugate the future subjunctive, take the third person plural preterite form of any regular, irregular, or stem-changing verb, drop the -ron ending, and add the appropriate ending:
The future perfect subjunctive is formed by combining the future subjunctive of the verb haber with a past participle.
Haber in the Future Subjunctive
él, ella, usted hubiere
ellos, ellas, ustedes hubieren
Si la defensa por cualquier razón no hubiere presentado sus argumentos iniciales, puede hacerlo después de que la acusación hubiere terminado la presentación de su caso.
If the defense for whatever reason has not presented its opening arguments, it may do so after the prosecution has finished presenting its case.
Prep yourself for a conversation using the subjunctive tenses! Read Common Ways to Use the Subjunctive to Enhance Your Conversation.
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