Cuando + El Presente de Subjuntivo vs Cuando + El Presente de Indicativo

Cuando (When) is followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, to express an intention to make it happen in the future.

Read and listen to these examples:

Cuando sea mayor, seré médico.
When I am older, I will be a doctor.

Cuando vayas al mercado compra fruta y verdura.
When you go to the market, buy fruit and vegetables.

Cuando estemos de vacaciones no usaré el móvil.
When we are on holidays I won't use the mobile phone.

Cuando os tumbéis en la playa poneos la crema solar.
When you lie down on the beach put some suncream on.

Cuando comáis esta noche recoged los platos.
When you eat tonight, put the dishes away.

Cuando tus hermanos lleguen será muy tarde.
When your brothers arrive it will be very late.

Note: Cuando can be followed by either the indicative or subjunctive. El Presente de Indicativo expresses that something actually happens. 

See these two similar examples, one with indicative and one with subjunctive:

In this sentence the going on holidays to Tenerife really happens.

Cuando voy de vacaciones a Tenerife me hospedo en el hotel Olimpia.
When I go on holiday to Tenerife I stay at the hotel Olimpia.

In this next sentence the going on holidays to Tenerife has not happened. It is a future idea. Notice that the future tense follows the subjunctive here.

Cuando vaya de vacaciones a Tenerife me hospedaré en el hotel Olimpia.
When I [will] go on holiday to Tenerife I will stay at the hotel Olimpia.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Cuando vayas al mercado compra fruta y verdura.
When you go to the market, buy fruit and vegetables.


Cuando comáis esta noche recoged los platos.
When you eat tonight, put the dishes away.


Cuando vaya de vacaciones a Tenerife me hospedaré en el hotel Olimpia.
When I [will] go on holiday to Tenerife I will stay at the hotel Olimpia.


Cuando os tumbéis en la playa poneos la crema solar.
When you lie down on the beach put some suncream on.


Cuando voy de vacaciones a Tenerife me hospedo en el hotel Olimpia.
When I go on holiday to Tenerife I stay at the hotel Olimpia.


Cuando sea mayor, seré médico.
When I am older, I will be a doctor.


Cuando estemos de vacaciones no usaré el móvil.
When we are on holidays I won't use the mobile phone.


Cuando tus hermanos lleguen será muy tarde.
When your brothers arrive it will be very late.


Q&A

Hans

Kwiziq community member

8 November 2018

3 replies

Cuando + subjunctiv + imperativ (=future intention?)

Is it correct that when there is a imperativ in a cuando sentence it is about a future intention? The example in the lesson is "cuando vayas al mercado compra fruta y verdura". Because you want to happen it in the future it is vayas and not vas. Is that correct? I had a hard time understanding this, there is only 1 example with the imperativ, and it is not mentioned in the lesson. The rest in with the much more easier simple future.

Hans

Kwiziq community member

8 November 2018

8/11/18

sorry, there are more examples. But an imperativ as a future intention remains strange for me.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

8 November 2018

8/11/18

Hola Hans,

What we use after cuando to express a future intention is the Present Subjunctive. All the examples in the lesson that want to express a future intention have the present subjunctive. It may sound strange because it doesn't happen in English. In English in both cases, facts and future intentions with cuando, are expressed in the same way:

"When I go to Italy I will visit Rome."(future intention)

"When I go to Italy I visit Rome."(fact, everytime you go to Italy. It does happen)

We would use "Cuando vaya..." in the first example, but would use "Cuando voy..." in the second.

I hope it helps.

Thanks for your question.

Inma

Hans

Kwiziq community member

8 November 2018

8/11/18

I just have trouble with the imperativ:

When you go to Italy, visit Rome! (future intention)

I didnt understand from the text that this is a future intention, as it is not a future time.

Meghan

Kwiziq community member

21 August 2018

1 reply

¿Dónde quieres comer cuando salgamos esta noche?

In order to use salgamos wouldn't querer need to be in the future -querrás? At least that is what I thought according to the lesson, but the choices in the question only gave answers using quieres so I didn't know how to apply the lesson to this question.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

21 August 2018

21/08/18

Hi Meghan, we sometimes use the present tense to express "future" like in this case, especially with "querer+infinitive". This lesson is about using either the subjunctive or the indicative after "cuando", that's why it needs the subjunctive. You could easily say this as well without changing the meaning: "¿Dónde querrás comer cuando salgamos esta noche?" but both options are expressing a future idea in the first part of the sentence. It sounds more natural to say in Spanish "¿Dónde quieres comer...?, that's why we chose that one.

I hope it helped.

Inma

Tommy

Kwiziq community member

11 April 2018

1 reply

.I don't understand your answer. I used present subjunctive yo form and the answer was in the indicative

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

11 April 2018

11/04/18

Hi Dawn - this is explained in the lesson. The subjunctive follows cuando when expressing an intention. The indicative follows when expressing a fact (the parasol blowing away is fact).

Hope that helps.

William

Kwiziq community member

29 December 2017

3 replies

Cuando + presente de Subjuntivo to express future intentions

How would you say "When she opens her presents at Christmas she often gets perfume"? The answer given is: "Cuando ella abre sus regalos en navidad a menudo tiene perfume." The present subjunctive for abrir (3rd person) is abra, no?

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

29 December 2017

29/12/17

Dear William, thank you for your question. This lesson talks about using "cuando" with Presente de Subjuntivo to express future intentions. However, you can also use Presente de Indicativo to talk about facts. In your example, the fact of opening presents doesn't refer to the future but as a general event instead. It means "everytime that she opens her presents in Christmas she usually gets a perfum." Therefore we can't use Presente de Subjuntivo here, because it doesn't refer to the future. I hope it makes sense! Muchas gracias, Silvia.

Nev

Kwiziq community member

20 January 2018

20/01/18

Then surely either the lesson should mention this difference, or the question shouldn't link to this lesson?

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

22 January 2018

22/01/18

Hola Nev! This difference between the indicative and the subjunctive is already mentioned in the lesson. Thanks for your contribution! Silvia

Gail

Kwiziq community member

30 October 2017

1 reply

Poneos?

I am not sure why poneos is used in the sentence "Cuando os tumbéis en la playa poneos la crema solar."

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

20 November 2017

20/11/17

Hola Gail, thanks for contacting us and sorry about our delay. The form "poneos" comes from the reflexive verb "ponerse" in the 2nd person plural ("vosotros"). The original form should be "ponedos" but we need to remove the -d due to phonetical reasons when using the 2nd person plural and pronouns starting by a vowel. I hope that this is clearer now. Gracias! Silvia.
How has your day been?