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Portuguese Present Subjunctive (Presente Conjuntivo)

The use of the Subjunctive in Portuguese (Conjuntivo) is way more frequent than in English. That alone can be a stumbling block for many language learners as they may lack the intuition for when to use it.

In this post, we are looking specifically at the conjugation and usage of the Present Subjunctive in Portuguese (Presente Conjuntivo). So, when do we use it? In short, the Present Subjunctive is used to express uncertainty, doubt, will, and opinion.

Here’re a few examples:

É possível que hoje chegue tarde a casa.
It might come back today.

Talvez tenhas sorte.
Maybe you’ll be lucky.

Quero que sejas feliz.
I want you to be happy.

In what follows, I will walk you through the Present Subjunctive’s conjugation and usage in greater detail.

Let’s dive right into it.

Related reads.
Portuguese Past Subjunctive: Conjugation and Usage
Portuguese Future Subjunctive – Conjugation and Usage

Conjugation

Regular verbs

Concerning regular verbs, the Present Subjunctive is easy to form. You take the stem from the infinitive form and add the conjugation endings according to each group:

CANTAR
(1st group –ar)
CORRER
(2nd group –er)
PARTIR
(3rd group –ir)
Eucantecorraparta
Tucantescorraspartas
Ele, elacantecorraparta
Nóscantemoscorramospartamos
Vocês
Eles, elas
cantemcorrampartam

* Learn more about Portuguese regular verbs: Portuguese Regular Verbs and Conjugation Patterns in the Present Tense.

Note that a handful of regular verbs need to have their spellings tweaked to conform to Portuguese pronunciation patterns*, namely verbs whose infinitive forms end in -car, -gar, -cer, and -çar:

FICARPAGARDESCERALMOÇAR
Eufiquepaguedesçaalmoce
Tufiquespaguesdesçasalmoces
Ele, elafiquepaguedesçaalmoce
Nósfiquemospaguemosdesçamosalmocemos
Vocês
Eles, elas
fiquempaguemdesçamalmocem

* Learn more about Portuguese spelling-pronunciation patterns and phonology: European Portuguese Pronunciation: A Helpful Guide to Its Elemental Sounds and Spelling-Pronunciation Patterns.

Irregular verbs

Going from the first-person Indicative mood

There are several irregular verbs where you can still apply the conjugation patterns above. However, you get the stem from the first-person of the Indicative mood (Present tense), and not from their infinite form: 

FIRST-PERSON
INDICATIVE-MOOD
PRESENT-SUBJUNCTIVE
PODERpossopossa; possas; possa; possamos; possam
FAZERfaçofaça; faças; faça; façamos; façam 
VERvejo veja; vejas; veja; vejamos; vejam
VIRvenho venha; venhas; venha; venhamos; venham
TERtenho tenha; tenhas; tenha; tenhamos; tenham

Know it by heart

For a few other irregular verbs, you don’t have any reference stem to go from –  you’ll have to learn it by heart. Still, many of them take the same familiar endings of the Present Subjunctive:

PRESENT-SUBJUNCTIVE
SERseja; sejas; seja; sejamos; sejam
ESTAResteja; estejas; esteja; estejamos; estejam
IRvá; vás; vá; vamos; vão
DARdê; dês, dê, dêmos; deem
QUERERqueira; queiras; queira; queiramos; queiram
SABERsaiba; saibas; saiba; saibamos; saibam
HAVERhaja 

When to use the Present Subjunctive

The Present Subjunctive in Portuguese is often used in complex sentences and placed inside the dependent clause (right after a linking word or expression). In this section, I will guide you through several such structures.

! We often use the Personal Subjunctive in structures where we could also use the Personal Infinitive (Infinitivo Pessoal) instead. In that sense, they are closely related and whether we use one or the other often depends on the linking word/expression being used. Here’s a reading that goes hand in hand with the present article: Portuguese Personal Infinitive: What Is It and When to Use It.

Verbs expressing will, desire, emotion, and doubt

We often use the Present Subjunctive when the verbs in the main clause express either will, desire, emotion, or doubt and are followed by the linking word que*.

* que corresponds to that in English – it is a linking word* that introduces dependent clauses and is often followed by Subjunctives.

Here’re a few such verbs:

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Olá! This is Pedro and I'm the founder of Portuguesepedia, a platform created to support and accelerate your Portuguese learning journey. Até já, p

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