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Past Subjunctive Explanation — Spanish Verb Conjugation

When learning Spanish verb conjugation, the past subjunctive works the same as the present subjunctive with one main addition. Before we get to the addition, let’s review how the present subjunctive works. Basically, there are three types of phrases that can trigger the subjunctive tense. They are phrases of hope, doubt or desire. Now, with the past subjunctive tense, these phrases of hope doubt or desire are in the past. Just like in the present, a change of subject in the past can also indicate the subjunctive in most cases.



Now, for the one addition in the past, “if” phrases in the past also trigger the subjunctive. For example, the phrases “if she came” or “if he ate it” trigger the subjunctive.

If she came

[Past subjunctive trigger] [Past subjunctive conjugation]

If he ate it

[Past subjunctive trigger] [Past subjunctive conjugation]

Here’s just a quick reminder that “if” phrases in the present tense do not trigger the subjunctive.

For example, “If he goes to the store” or “If she calls me” are not subjunctive.

If he goes to the store (NOT SUBJUNCTIVE IN THE PRESENT)

If she calls me (NOT SUBJUNCTIVE IN THE PRESENT)


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