When to use what subjunctive in Spanish

(The sequence of tenses / la concordancia de tiempos)

Before starting, you should be familiar with the following terms:

    • Governing verb” refers to the verb which causes the subjunctive
      to be used (for noun clauses, e.g., Quiero que vengas) or the
      verb which determines the time of the action (present, past, future) in the
      accompanying subordinate clause.

  • Present time” tenses include the present (indicative
    [hablo] and subjunctive [hable]), present perfect (indicative
    [he hablado] and subjunctive [haya hablado]) and future perfect
    [habré hablado], as well as commands [¡Habla!
    ¡Hable!
    , etc.].
  • Past time” tenses include all others: the imperfect (indicative
    [hablaba] and subjunctive [hablara]), preterit
    [hablé], past perfect (indicative [había hablado]
    and subjunctive [hubiera hablado or hubiese hablado]), conditional
    [hablaría], and conditional perfect [habría
    hablado
    ].
  • Simple tenses” are the one-word forms. The simple tenses
    of the indicative are the present [hablo], future
    [hablaré], imperfect [hablaba], and preterit
    [hablé]; the simple tenses of the subjunctive are the present
    [hable] and imperfect [hablara] tenses. The conditional*
    [hablaría] is also a simple tense.
  • Compound tenses” or “perfect tenses” are
    the forms composed of the helping verb haber plus the past participle.
    The compound tenses in the indicative are the presente perfect [he
    hablado
    ], the past perfect [había hablado], and the future
    perfect [habré hablado]; the compound tenses in the subjunctive
    are the present perfect (haya hablado) and the past perfect [hubiera
    hablado
    or hubiese hablado]. The conditional perfect*
    [habría hablado] is also a compound tense.
      * The conditional tenses are considered by some to be the two tenses of
a special mood, the conditional mood. Others treat them as part of the indicative
mood.

When do you use which subjunctive tense? Assuming you know that the subjunctive
is required, a simplified rule for determining which
subjunctive tense to use is as follows:

via When to use what subjunctive in Spanish.

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