I have fantastic news for you: the imperfect subjunctive is just the past tense version of the subjunctive mood, and it builds directly upon what we've already learned. This makes it much easier to grasp. Primarily, the imperfect subjunctive occurs in similar contexts as the present subjunctive, but it follows a verb in the preterite or imperfect tense, or it refers to a past action in the second part of the sentence. Let's compare some examples to see this in action:
Let's define this tense more thoroughly:
Start with the 3rd-person, plural (ellos/ellas) form of the preterite. Then take off the ‑RON:
You may have noticed in the examples above that there are two sets of possible endings. They’re essentially equivalent*, so don’t be shaken. The VerbMaster practice will only work with the first set, the ‑RA, endings, but we’ve included both sets here so you can be aware.
* The ‑RA endings are much more widely used. Some sources only teach those. The ‑SE endings are still used in Spain but much less in the Americas. It’s good to be familiar with both if your plans involve advanced reading, official documents, or travel to Spain.
Attach the ending to the stem. Note that the vowel before the nosotros ending gets a written accent.
Provided you know your preterite tense backwards, forwards, and inside out, there are no irregular formations.
Below are some examples of how you can use the imperfect subjunctive in the real world:
The only way to master these verbs is through targeted practice. Fortunately for you, VerbMaster’s intelligent tutoring system makes conjugation practice a breeze!
In this session, you’ll practice conjugating hablar, comer, and vivir in the imperfect subjunctive. So what are you waiting for? Get to studying, you’re on your way to becoming a VerbMaster!
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