When to use the subjunctive and
how to form its four tenses
Definition:
A set of verb forms required in clauses of certain
types.
The four types of clauses:
•Subordinated noun clauses
•Subordinated adjective clauses
•Adverbial clauses
•Hypothetical or contrary to fact statements
Define the subjunctive
• Set of verb forms-this is the mental
framework on which to place corresponding
sets of rules for deciding if the subjunctive is
needed
• Students have been led to believe that the
subjunctive is all about doubt and uncertainty
on the part of the speaker, but this is only one
aspect of one clause
The four tenses you need to know
Present Subjunctive
• Use Yo- form of the Pres. Indict.
• With –ar change the –o to an -e, and for –er
and -ir , change – o to –a.
• Reference all forms by their stem
• Ir/haber-vaya/haya, ser/ver-sea/vea,
saber/caber-sepa/quepa
The four tenses you need to know
• The Imperfect Subjunctive
• Begins with the use of the third person plural
of the preterite
• For all verbs remove -on and replace with –a
and conjugate.
• Tuvieron = tuvier-on = tuvier+a= tuviera
New YO form!
• Irregulars from original preterite follow us into
the imperfect subjunctive, know your forms!
The four tenses you need to know
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Present Perfect subjunctive
Use haber plus past participle –ido and -ado
Pres.perf.indict
pres.perf.subj
He
haya (present subj.)
Has
hayas
Ha
haya
+ ido or ado
Hemos
hayamos
Habéis
hayáis
Han
hayan
Present Perfect subjunctive
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Irregular past participles
Abrir -abierto
Cubrir -cubierto
Decir -dicho
Escribir -escrito
Hacer -hecho
Imprimir -impreso
Morir -muerto
Poner -puesto
Romper -roto
Solver -suelto
Ver -visto
Volver -vuelto
The four tenses you need to know
• Pluperfect subjunctive
• Uses the imperfect subjunctive plus past
participle.
• Hubiera
• Hubieras
• Hubiera
+ ido or ado
• Hubiéramos
• Hubiérais
• Hubieran
Sequence of tenses and the
subjunctive
• Understanding which tenses can or must be
used in subordinated clauses, introduced by
main clauses in which the various indicative
tenses are used
• Need to understand Temporal logic of the four
forms..Choice depends on the time of action
of the main verb
Temporal Logic
• Ojalá que Juan venga a
la fiesta. (pres.subj.)
– I pray to God that Jon
comes to the party.
• Ojalá que Juan haya
venido a la fiesta.
(pres.per.subj.)
– I pray to God that Jon
has come to the party.
• Ojalá que Juan viniera a
la fiesta. (imp.subj.)
– I pray to God that Jon
were coming to the
party.
• Ojalá que Juan hubiera
venido a la fiesta.
(plu.subj.)
– I pray to God that Jon
had come to the party.
Ojalá que Juan venga a la fiesta. (pres.subj.)
I pray to God that Jon comes to the party.
• Present subjunctive is used when the action
of the verb is in either the present or future.
• Party is either in progress –Jon will yet come,
or it is being planned –Jon will come to it.
Ojalá que Juan haya venido a la fiesta. (pres.per.subj.)
I pray to God that Jon has come to the party.
• Present perfect subjunctive is used to express
an action that has taken place and whose
influence is still in effect.
• The party is actually going on, the speaker has
not seen Jon, but is quite hopeful that Jon is
there.
Ojalá que Juan viniera a la fiesta. (imp.subj.)
.
I pray to God that Jon were coming to the party He knows that he
is not going to come.
• Imperfect subjunctive is used to express a strong
doubt about Jon’s attendance to the party. If the
party is in the planning stages the speaker is
highly doubtful that Jon will accept, or the party
is in effect and Jon’s arrival is also doubtful or
highly unlikely.
• The speaker could have used present perfect
subjunctive to express the same doubt, but used
the imperfect subjunctive to express
counterfactual propositions. (counter to his
observations of facts or expectations.)
Ojalá que Juan hubiera venido a la fiesta. (plu.subj.)
I pray to God that Jon had come to the party.
• The pluperfect subjunctive is used for an
action that is viewed as prior to some other
action in the past. (past within a past)
• In this example the party is not only over, but
Jon’s arrival is viewed as something that
(logically) would have had to have occurred
before the party ended.
• Jon never showed up!
Subordinate Noun Clauses
• Acts like a large direct object (noun) that
answers the question of WHAT, answering that
question posed by the verb at the end of the
main clause.
• Yo deseo que el maestro explique el subjunctivo. (S1 + V1 que
S2 + V2)
• I want the teacher to explain the subjunctive. (accusative
plus infinitive construct.)
• Notice that in English the construct is quite different.
• Change English sentence to – I want that the teacher explain
the subjunctive. Now we see the subordinate noun clause!!
The rule for subordinate noun clauses!
• The rule is that V2 must be in the subjunctive
form if and only if there is a change of subject,
that is if S1 and S2 are not the same person
and if V1 is a WEIRDO verb!
• S1 ≠ S2 + (V1 = WEIRDO) = S2 + V2 (in
subjunctive)
• Only subordinate noun clauses use WEIRDO!!
Subordinate Noun Clauses and
WEIRDO
W
A verb of Wishing, willing ,wanting ,hoping ,expecting, etc.
E
A verb of Emotion (note: most of these verbs are reflexive!)
I
An Impersonal expression of WERD., Introduced by ES + adjective; a verb
or other expression that expresses Influence.
R
A verb Requesting, asking, demanding, commanding, or causing.
D
A verb of Doubt, denial, or negation.
O
Ojalá ( que – which may be omitted when using this word)
Subordinate Noun Clauses and
WEIRDO
• Quiero que Juan venga la fiesta. –I want Jon to come to
the party.
• Me alegro de que Juan venga a la fiesta. –I am glad Jon
is coming to the party.
• Es importante que Juan venga a la fiesta. –It is
important for Jon to come to the party.
• Vamos a pedirle que venga a la fiesta. –Let’s ask for
him to come to the party.
• Dudo que Juan venga a la fiesta. -I doubt that Jon will
come to the party.
• ¡Ojalá que venga Juan a la fiesta! –I hope to God that
Jon comes to the party!
Subordinate Noun Clauses and
WEIRDO
• Let’s take a look at the D category. The one representing Doubt.
• Tú crees que la fiesta es hoy. –You believe that the party is today.
(indicative)
• Nosotros dudamos que la fiesta sea hoy. –We doubt that the party
is today. (subjunctive)
• The rule says that if there is belief one will use the indicative and if
there is Doubt then one must use the subjunctive.
• Tú no crees que la fiesta sea hoy. –You don’t believe (doubt) that
the party is today. (subjunctive)
• Nosotros no dudamos que la fiesta es hoy. –You don’t doubt
(believe) that the party is today. (indicative)
• Here the sentences have been changed, that only the rule about
doubt is reflected. If you express doubt you must use the
subjunctive!
Subordinated adjective clauses
• What is it? It is a clause that modifies an indefinite,
vague, or nonexistent (unreal) antecedent.
• An antecedent is a previously mentioned noun.
• Necesitamos una computadora que funcione
(subjunctive). The noun computer is not mentioned in
the secondary adj. clause.
• We need a computor that works. We need a computer
that is a working computer (antecedent).
• Necesitamos una computadora funcional (adjectivemodifies computer).
Subordinated adjective clauses
• If the adjective clause expresses some kind of
need or search for something then it must be
presented with the subjunctive. Necesitamos
una computadora que funcione. (subjunctive)
• If we have it or it is a definte (demonstrated
by using a define article) then the indicative is
use. Tenemos una computadora que
funciona. Necesitamos la computadora que
funciona. (indicative)
Adverbial Clauses
• There is no test to decide if there is an adverbial
clause only an expression that must be
memorized, a list of A and B where you must
memorize B.
• When using an adverbial expression that could be
followed by a subjunctive or indicative depends
on a key temporal concept- anticipation.
• Consider anticipation to be the key word when
deliberating about needing the subjunctive with
adverbial expressions.
Adverbial Clauses
List ‘A’ Always use the subjunctive after these expressions!
A menos que, a no ser que
Unless
Antes de que
Before
Como si (only uses the imperfect or
pluperfect subjunctive)**
As if
Con tal de que, siempre y cuando
Provided that, as long as
El hecho de que (may find with
indicative, but subj. is better because it
is used in places where the speaker may
imply doubt or ironic statement.)
The fact that
En caso de que
In case (that)
Para que, a fin de que
In order that
Sin que
Without
Adverbial Clauses
List ‘A’ Always use the subjunctive after these expressions!
• ** Ese chico corre como si naciera para ello.
• That kid runs as if he were born for it. (present
indict./imperfect subjunctive)
• ** Ese chico corría como si hubiera nacido
para ello.
• That kid ran as if he had been born for it.
(imperfect indict./pluperfect subjunctive)
Adverbial Clauses
List ‘B’ Sometimes use the subjunctive after these expressions!
A pesar de que
Despite, in spite of
Acaso, tal vez, quizá
Perhaps
Así que, Así como
Such that
Aunque
Although
Cuando
When
De modo que, de manera que
After
Después de que, luego que
After
Hasta que
Until
Mientras
While
Por más que, por mucho que
No matter how much
Siempre que
As long as
Tam pronto como, en cuanto
As soon as
Una vez que
Once you have
Aunque
• Understanding of how attitude plays a part in
why the subjunctive is used.
• Aunque Juan es rico, no lo parece.
• Even though Jon is rich, he doesn’t seem to be.
(indicative by attitude or confidence)
• Aunque Juan sea rico, no lo parece.
• Although Jon may be rich, he doesn’t seem to be.
(subjunctive by attitude or confidence)*
• *In English we might have used MAY to indicate
doubt.
Side note! Anticipation!
• An example of how to use the subjunctive when using
anticipation:
• Yo iré al cine después de que Juan me llame.
• I’ll go to the movies after Jon calls me. Jon’s call is
anticipated. The speaker states that he will go to the
movies only after he gets the call from Juan. The
subjunctive is required not because of attitude of
speaker, but because anticipation is being expressed.
• You fui al cine después de que Juan me llamó.
• I went to the movies after Jon called me. The speaker
is reporting what happened yesterday, no anticipation
so the indicative is used.
Contrary to fact statements
• You must learn to recognize the difference
between a cause and effect statement and a
hypothetical one. Also known as a contrary to
fact statement.
• Si manejas como loco, te pondrán una multa.
If you drive like a maniac, they will give you a
ticket. (cause and effect statement)
Contrary to fact statements
• Si manejaras como loco, te pondrían una
multa. If you drove like a maniac, they would
give you a ticket. (hypothetical statement)
• Imperfect subjunctive/conditional indicative
• The imperfect subjunctive sets up the
hypothetical circumstance and the conditional
shows the results.
Contrary to fact statements
• Remember how the phrase COMO SI always
requires the imperfect subjunctive or the
pluperfect subjunctive….they introduce
hypothetical statements!!
• Trabaja como si la vida dependiera de ello.
• He works as if his life depended on it.
• Se veía como si hubiera visto un fantasma.
• He looked as if he had seen a ghost.
Contrary to fact statements
• Si hubieras manejado como loco, te habrían
puesto una multa. If you had driven like a
maniac, they would have given you a ticket.
• Pluperfect subjunctive/conditional perfect
indicative
• The pluperfect subjunctive sets up the
hypothetical circumstance and the conditional
perfect shows the results. Or what would
happened but never did.
Contrary to fact statements
• Remember that imperfect and pluperfect
subjunctive are exclusively used in the IF
clause and the conditional and conditional
perfect indicative are used in the clause
expressing the suspected result (what would
happen or would have happened).
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When to use the subjunctive and how to form its four tenses