Guide - Tenses & Moods

Guide Contents


When it comes to verb conjugation there are plenty of rules to remember but that's not all. If you're a native English speaker who learned to speak, read and write English as a child then it's likely that you don't know your Indicative Present from your Perfect Subjunctive Present. Don't worry, you're definitely not alone.

It's probably without question that you know how to form sentences perfectly in English... You know to use 'was' when talking about an action you did in the past and 'would have' when writing about something that you might have been able to do last week had it not been for some unfortunate event.

So, like many language learners you'll probably reach the point where you start reading and hearing all these new terms like Imperfect and Past Participle. Fear not though, we've got you covered with our no-nonsense guide to Spanish tenses, moods and forms.

The Basics

Before we get into the tenses and moods we'll start with the Infinitive and the Participles. The Infinitive is the easiest for us to understand because it's the Spanish equivalent to our English verbs. The two Participles are used to convey what someone or something is currently doing and has done and are used in the compound tenses.

The Infinitive
The Present Particple
The Past Particple

Moods - The Indicative

The indicative is typically used for making factual statements or describing obvious qualities of a person or situation. It is often used to talk about facts in the present, past, future, or conditional.

Moods - The Subjunctive

The subjunctive is used to express desires, doubts, the unknown, the abstract, and emotions. It includes many of the same verb tenses as the indicative mood, including the perfect, the past, and the future, which is rarely used in modern Spanish, but good to know for literature.

Moods - The Imperative

The imperative is used to tell someone to do something in a direct manner. More simply put, sentences in the imperative mood are commands.