Spanish Past Subjunctive – Lesson 1 (with Exercise 1)
In Lesson 1 on the Spanish Present Subjunctive, you learned that you can command a significant portion of the subjunctive through the employment of a simple formula:
This formula also works for the past-subjunctive, so without reinventing the wheel, we’re going to convert the formula into the past. It’s simple (of course, with some exceptions). When the key word appears in a past tense, the verb in the subordinate clause shifts into the past subjunctive. Here’s an example for the key words “era preciso,” which mean “it was necessary”:
Tú cortabas el pelo cada mes. ¿Era preciso eso?
You cut your hair each month. Was that necessary?
Sí. Era preciso que cortara el pelo cada mes.
Yes. It was necessary that I cut my hair each month.
You should construct a list of the key words that, when used before “que,” trigger the subjunctive. This exercise and upcoming ones will assist you in making your list. Then it’s a matter of applying your knowledge of the subjunctive conjugations to the formula. Beneath this paragraph is a link to a worksheet, which is the first of a series of exercises on the subjunctive. Just print it and fill in the blanks. The answers are at the end.
As you work through the exercise, keep in mind that the formula outlined above does not cover all situations, nor is it possible to construct a set of fixed rules that covers all uses of the subjunctive. My attempt here is to provide a simple tool that will help you get a feel for one aspect of the subjuctive. We’ll cover the subjunctive with conjunctions and in if-would sentences in later lessons.
Vea también: Presente del Subjuntivo – Lección 1