Capítulo 3: La empresa y las finanzas

3.5.3: Gramática-the imperfect subjunctive

The imperfect subjunctive

The imperfect subjunctive, like the subjunctive, and the conditional is a grammatical mood.  The imperfect subjunctive, also called the past subjunctive, is like the present subjunctive in that it is used to express subjectivity.  English only has a very reduced use of the subjunctive so we won’t look at English examples first, we’ll just jump straight into Spanish. Let’s look at some more information!

How is the imperfect subjunctive formed?

There are 2 forms of the imperfect subjunctive.  Both will be explained here but you are only responsible for knowing how to use one of the forms.  Both forms are provided so that you will recognize them when you see them.

For all forms of the verb, take the 3rd person plural of the preterite (also known as the ellos/ellas/ustedes form or the sixth conjugation).  Let’s use DORMIR as our example verb.

dormir > durmieron

Drop the -ron and add -ra with the right person endings.

durmiera durmiéramos
durmiera durmieran

There are no extra irregular forms. You have spent a lot of time and mental energy learning irregular preterite forms and that work pays off now!  Yes, any irregular form from the preterite will maintain the irregularity in the imperfect subjunctive form.  The other form of the past subjunctive starts the same.  Find the 3rd person plural of the preterite.  Let’s use CAMINAR as our example this time.

Caminar > caminaron

Drop the -ron and add -se plus the person endings.

caminase caminásemos
caminase caminasen

The forms ending in -ra are a little more common, although the -se forms are more common in parts of Spain. Speakers will sometimes use these forms interchangeably or stick to one form over the other.  We recommend that you learn the -ra form for this course.



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