Conjugating any verb in the Imperfect Subjunctive

Spanish Tutorial

Conjugating any verb in the Imperfect Subjunctive


This is a tense usually introduced in high schools at around level 3 or 4 and is one of the simpler tenses to conjugate as no verb forms it irregularly, i.e. once the pattern is learned, it is smooth sailing from there. Step-by-step are given below.

Sample Problem

Translate the following sentences into Spanish:

1. It is good that he got married.
2. I wanted you to come to my party.
3. She was happy that we told her in advance that the flight was cancelled.


How to Form the Stem:
1. Find the preterite 3rd person plural conjugation (“ellos/ellas”)
2. Take of the “-ron” (This appears in every verb)
3. What you have left is the stem!

N.B. This is true for all verbs, even irregular ones.
Ex. Ser–> Fueron–> Fue-, Cantar–> Cantaron –> Cant-, Vivir–> Vivieron–> Vivie-

Paradigm (Conjugation Table) for all Verbs in the Imperfect Subjunctive Tense/Mood
Person Singular Plural
1st -ra -ramos
2nd -ras -rais
3rd -ra -ran


Person Singular Plural
1st -se -semos
2nd -ses -seis
3rd -se -sen
(This second form is completely equivalent to the first form but is less common)

N.B. In both paradigms, the “nosotros/nosotras” forms will have an accent on the last verb of the stem, e.g. hiciéramos.

To Conjugate in the Imperfect Subjunctive, simply add the stem to the correct ending from the Paradigm!

Now to translate the sentences.

1. It is good that he got married.

Well, we know we are going to have subjunctive because of the construction “it is good that” –> Es bueno que, and our subjunctive verb must be in the past tense as that is how it the action of getting married took place in the past. to get married = se casar
So the sentence translates as “Es bueno que (él) se casara/casase.” se casar–>se casaron–> se casa- + ra/se

2. I wanted you to come to my party.

We know we also have the subjunctive here because it is a “wishing/wanting” verb. And it will have to be in the past tense because of the action would have happened in the past.

(Yo) quise que (tú) vinieras/vinieses a mi fiesta.
venir–> vinieron–> vinie- + ras/ses

3. She was happy that we told her in advance that the flight was cancelled.
This is also in the past subjunctive because of the emotion “happy,” and therefore only the next verb after the trigger will be in subjunctive, but we see it must be in past subjunctive because the action happened in the past.

(Ella) era feliz que (nosotros/nosotras) le diciéramos/diciésemos por adelantado que el vuelo se canceló.
decir–> dicieron–> dicie- + ramos/semos BUT the stem must get and accent on the “e” because it is the nosotros form, thus diciéramos/diciésemos NOT dicieramos/diciesemos.

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  1. Becky 06/15/2016, 8:57 pm Reply

    Lo siento, pero has cometido un grave error. La forma “diciéramos / diciésemos” no existe; es “dijéramos / dijésemos”.

  2. Becky 06/15/2016, 9:00 pm Reply

    (decir – DIJERON (y no “dicieron”) – DIJERA/DIJESE)