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Spanish language Imperfecto de Subjuntivo - Spanish Imperfect Subjunctive

The imperfect tense of the subjunctive mood is used to express the same subjectivity as the present subjunctive, but in the past.

The imperfect subjunctive has three main uses:

1.  Express subjectivity in the past after the same verbs, impersonal expressions, and conjunctions as the present subjunctive. For the imperfect subjunctive to be needed, the verb in the main clause has to be in one of the following tenses/moods: preterite, imperfect, conditional, or pluperfect.
Quería que lo hicieras. I wanted you to do it.
Fue una lástima que no pudiera venir. It was too bad that he couldn't come.
Yo iría al banco para que tuviéramos dinero. I would go to the bank so that we'd have money.
  
2.  Make a very polite request or suggestion (only with the verbs deber, poder, and querer).
Quisiera dos libros, por favor. I'd like two books, please.
¿Pudiera Ud. ayudarnos? Could you (possibly) help us?
  
3.  In conditional sentences (si clauses) and with the conjunction como si.
Si tuviera dinero, iría contigo. If I had money, I would go with you.
Me escucha como si fuera su profesor. He listens to me as if I were his teacher.

Imperfect Subjunctive Conjugations

To conjugate the imperfect subjunctive, take the third person plural preterite form of any regular, irregular, or stem-changing verb, drop the -RON ending to find the radical, and add the appropriate ending:

-RA conjugation

-SE conjugation

yo -ra    nosotros -´ramos    yo -se    nosotros -´semos
-ras vosotros -rais -ses vosotros -seis
él -ra ellos -ran él -se ellos -sen

Notes:

  • The yo and él forms of the imperfect subjunctive are identical.
  • In the nosotros form of both conjugations, an acute accent ´ is added to the last vowel in the radical.
  • There are two complete sets of conjugations for the Spanish imperfect subjunctive. Although you only need to memorize and use one or the other, you still need to be able to recognize both. The -RA set of conjugations is more colloquial than the -SE set.

For example...

HABLAR -» ellos hablaron

yo hablara    nosotros habláramos
hablaras vosotros hablarais
él hablara ellos hablaran
  
yo hablase nosotros hablásemos
hablases vosotros hablaseis
él hablase ellos hablasen
  

TENER -» ellos tuvieron

yo tuviera    nosotros tuviéramos
tuvieras vosotros tuvierais
él tuviera ellos tuvieran
  
yo tuviese nosotros tuviésemos
tuvieses vosotros tuvieseis
él tuviese ellos tuviesen

  

Spanish Subjunctive Tenses:

Spanish Verbs     Spanish for Beginners

  

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