Forms of the past subjunctive
• The past subjunctive (el imperfecto del subjuntivo)
of all verbs is formed by dropping the –ron ending
from the ustedes/ellos/ellas form of the preterite and
adding the past subjunctive endings.
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8.2–1
The nosotros/as form of the past subjunctive always has a
written accent.
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8.2–2
Estela dudaba de que su madre la ayudara a financiar un carro nuevo.
Estela doubted that her mother would help her finance a new car.
A los dueños les sorprendió que vendieran más en enero que en diciembre.
The owners were surprised that they sold more in January than in December.
Ya hablé con el recepcionista y me recomendó que le escribiera al gerente.
I already spoke to the receptionist and he recommended that I write to
the manager.
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8.2–3
• Verbs that have stem changes, spelling changes,
or irregularities in the ustedes/ellos/ellas form
of the preterite also have them in all forms of the
past subjunctive.
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8.2–4
• In Spain and some other parts of the Spanishspeaking world, the past subjunctive is commonly
used with another set of endings (–se, –ses, –se,
–semos, –seis, –sen). You will also see these
forms in literary selections.
La señora Medina exigió que le mandásemos
el contrato para el viernes.
La señora Medina exigió que le
mandáramos el contrato para el viernes.
Ms. Medina demanded that we send her the
contract by Friday.
Ms. Medina demanded that we send her
the contract by Friday.
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8.2–5
Uses of the past subjunctive
• The past subjunctive is required in the same situations as
the present subjunctive, except that the point of reference
is always in the past. When the verb in the main clause is
in the past, the verb in the subordinate clause is in the
past subjunctive.
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8.2–6
PRESENT TIME
PAST TIME
El jefe sugiere que vayas a la reunión.
El jefe sugirió que fueras a la reunión.
The boss recommends that you go to the
meeting.
The boss recommended that you go to the meeting.
Espero que ustedes no tengan problemas
con el nuevo sistema.
Esperaba que no tuvieran problemas con el
nuevo sistema.
I hope you won’t have any problems with
the new system.
I was hoping you wouldn’t have any problems with
the new system.
Buscamos a alguien que conozca bien el
mercado.
Buscábamos a alguien que conociera bien
el mercado.
We are looking for someone who knows
the market well.
We were looking for someone who knew the
market well.
Les mando mi currículum en caso de que
haya un puesto disponible.
Les mandé mi currículum en caso de que hubiera un
puesto disponible.
I’m sending them my résumé in case there
is a position available.
I sent them my résumé, in case there were a position
available.
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8.2–7
• The expression como si (as if) is always followed
by the past subjunctive.
Alfredo gasta dinero como si fuera millonario.
Alfredo spends money as if he were a millionaire.
El presidente habló de la economía como si no
hubiera una recesión.
The president talked about the economy as if there
were no recession.
Ella rechazó mi opinion como si no importara.
She rejected my opinion as if it didn’t matter.
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8.2–8
• The past subjunctive is also commonly used
with querer to make polite requests or to
soften statements.
Quisiera que me llames hoy.
Quisiera hablar con usted.
I would like you to call me today.
I would like to speak with you.
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8.2–9
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The past subjunctive