8.19 THE PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE: Regular Verbs
The subjunctive can be quite a confusing concept for English speakers to understand.
Verbs in Spanish, in addition to a tense, also have a mood. This is what the subjunctive represents. It expresses something that is uncertain or your feeling, desire or doubt about something.
English rarely uses the subjunctive but it can still be found in a few cases which many English speakers choose to ignore because it is so subtle.
For example, even though you would say ‘He does this’, the verb changes to ‘do’ if you say ‘I recommend that he do this’. Another example would be ‘I was rich’. The verb changes to ‘were’ in the sentence ‘If I were rich, I would travel more’.
In English, the subjunctive is often ignored because you can be very easily understood even without it. However, in Spanish, the subjunctive cannot be omitted because your listener could either by confused or misunderstand what you mean. The subjunctive is an important part of conversational Spanish.
the subjunctive and 'ar' verbs
Let’s look at the conjugation of ‘ar’ verbs. In order to get a feel for how the subjunctive is used, let’s look at how the verb changes from its regular conjugation to the subjunctive form:
Trabajo mucho – I work a lot
Es importante que trabaje mucho – It is important that I work a lot
Hablas francés – You speak French
Me alegra que hables francés – I’m glad that you speak French
Él/Ella viaja a Londrés – He/She travels to London
No creo que él/ella viaje a Londrés – I don’t believe that he/she travels to London
Caminamos juntos – We walk together
Es mejor que caminemos juntos – It’s better that we walk together
Paran en esta cuidad – They stop in this city
Dudo que paren en esta ciudad – I doubt that they stop in this city
the subjunctive - 'er' and 'ir' verbs
Regular ‘er’ and ‘ir’ verbs both have the same conjugations in the present subjunctive but differ a bit from ‘ar’ verbs. Let’s look at a few examples to see how this works:
Aprendo español con mis amigos – I learn Spanish with my friends
Es importante que aprenda español con mis amigos – It is important that I learn Spanish with my friends
¿Escribes en este cuaderno? – Do you write in this notebook?
Prefiero que escribas en este cuaderno – I prefer you to write in this notebook
Él/Ella come muchas verduras/vegetales – He/She eats a lot of vegetables
Es necesario que él/ella coma muchas verduras/vegetales – It is necessary that he/she eats a lot of vegetables
¡Cometemos tantos errores! – We make so many mistakes
Es una lástima que cometamos tantos errores – It’s a shame that we make so many errors
Duermen en el nuevo cuarto – They sleep in the new room
Estoy contento/a que duerman en el nuevo cuarto – I am happy that they sleep in the new room