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Spanish Grammar A1 ⮟
Ser and Estar in Spanish for Beginners
Está and Hay in Spanish to Express Location
The Present Indicative in Spanish
The verb querer in Spanish: how to use it
The Verb Gustar in Spanish
Demonstratives in Spanish and Adverbs of Place
Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
The Present Continuous in Spanish: Estar + Gerund
The Gerund in Spanish: Form and Basic Uses
Expressions of Quantity in Spanish: Muy and Mucho
Spanish Grammar A2 ⮟
Present Perfect Indicative in Spanish
The Past Simple in Spanish
The Preterite Imperfect Indicative in Spanish
Indicative past tenses in Spanish
How to Express Future in Spanish
How to use por and para in Spanish
Possessive Pronouns in Spanish
Comparative Adjectives in Spanish
Ya in Spanish: Meaning and Usage
Subject Personal Pronouns in Spanish
Expressing Obligation in Spanish
Spanish Grammar B1 ⮟
The Pluperfect Indicative in Spanish
The Future Simple in Spanish
The Conditional Simple in Spanish
The imperative mood in Spanish
The present subjunctive in Spanish
Verbal Periphrasis in Spanish
General Rules of Accentuation in Spanish
Expressing Wishes with the Subjunctive in Spanish
The Use of Cuando with Indicative and Subjunctive
Position of Object Pronouns in Spanish
Spanish Grammar B2 ⮟
Advanced Uses of Conditional Simple
The Future Perfect in Spanish
The Conditional Perfect in Spanish
Present Perfect Subjunctive in Spanish
How do I use the past imperfect subjunctive?
The Pluperfect Subjunctive in Spanish
How to express probability in Spanish
Conditional Clauses in Spanish
Verbs of Change in Spanish
Reported Speech in Spanish
Spanish Grammar C1 ⮟
The passive Voice in Spanish
Adverbial Clauses of Manner in Spanish
Adverbial Clauses of Cause in Spanish
Clauses of Purpose in Spanish
Conditional Conjunctions in Spanish
Uses of the Pronoun SE with Syntactic Function
Uses of the Pronoun Se as a Verb Mark
The Indeterminate Feminine in Spanish

How do I use the past imperfect subjunctive?

How do I use the past imperfect subjunctive? iIf you are interested in this topic, it means that you already have notions or understand perfectly how the present of subjunctive works in Spanish and now you want to use the past imperfect subjunctive as well.

Well, all that knowledge you have about the subjunctive in the present, you have to apply it to the past, but of course, we have other uses to discover.

How do I use the past imperfect subjunctive: the form

To begin with, you need to know the form clearly – How do you construct the past imperfect of the subjunctive in Spanish?

You have two options: learn it by heart or use your previous knowledge.

If you learned very well the form of the indefinite pretérito, you only have to think of the third person plural (ELLOS) of any verb and from there make a small change. What is the advantage of this little trick? Well, this way you won’t have to think about which verbs are irregular and which verbs are not.

Find out how to do it with the following infographic

You must also pay a lot of attention to pronunciation and especially to the accents because if not, some forms of the first conjugation (-AR) can be confused in the regular verbs of the imperfect past of subjunctive with those of the simple future:




Después de la presentación, tú hablarás el primero.


Si hablaras más bajo, no se habría enterado nadie.



No hablará si no está su abogado.


Ojalá hablara más claro, no entiendo nada.



Mañana ustedes hablarán con la familia para informarles.


El presidente quería que ustedes hablaran en la reunión.

Once you know how to conjugate the verb correctly, let’s talk about uses.



Past impefect in Spanish: uses

As you already know, the subjunctive mode in the vast majority of cases is selected by a previous verb which demands its use. Those verbs can express desire, opinion (in negative form), assessment, feelings, doubt, probability…

Why do we use the past imperfect subjunctive?

Same uses of Present subjunctive but in the past

Here are some equivalences:

Patricia quiere que le explique el subjuntivo. (PRESENTE)

Patricia quería que le explicara el subjuntivo. (PASADO)

No creo que llegue tan tarde. (PRESENTE)

No creía que llegara tan tarde. (PASADO)

Es una vergüenza que no se pongan de acuerdo. (PRESENTE)

Fue una vergüenza que no se pusieran de acuerdo. (PASADO)

Le alegra que vayas a verla. (PRESENTE)

Le alegró que fueras a verla. (PASADO)

Es más probable que encuentre un trabajo en China. (PRESENTE)

Era más probable que encontrara un trabajo en China. (PASADO)

Busco un piso que tenga tres habitaciones. (PRESENTE)

Estaba buscando un piso que tuviera tres habitaciones. (PASADO)

How do I use the past imperfect subjunctive with “ojalá”

We use the past imperfect subjunctive with OJALÁ, when we believe it is unlikely or impossible that our desire will be fulfilled.

Ojalá tuviera una varita mágica.

Ojalá me llamaran para esa entrevista.

The second conditional clauses with the imperfect subjunctive

Similarly, in the structure of the second conditional sentence, with the subjunctive imperfect, we express that it is a difficult or impossible condition to realize.

Si tuviera más dinero, arreglaría el tejado.

Si volviera a nacer, lo haría de nuevo.

You can review the use of conditional clauses in one of our previous posts: Conditional clauses in Spanish: what if…?

The imperfect subjunctive as an irreal modal clause


Hace como si no lo viera.

Actúa como si te fueras mañana.

Se comporta como si no le importara.

The verb “querer” in the imperfect subjunctive

Less common use for requests and wishes with the verb QUERER.

Quisiera que me enseñara raquetas para nieve. (En una tienda)

Quisiera terminar antes de que ellos lleguen. (Similar a: Ojalá terminara antes de que llegaran).

Well, if you want to continue learning Spanish grammar, vocabulary and culture, don’t hesitate to ask us for a trial lesson.