Using El Subjuntivo after puede que to express possibility

We use puede que followed by the subjunctive to express probability or possibility (It is possible that..., I may ..., You may..., It may...)

Expressing probability/possibility in the present or future

If the probability/possibility is related to a present or future situation, you will find El Presente de Subjuntivo after puede que.

See and listen to the following examples:

Possibility in the present

Ese chico de allí puede que sea el primo de Laura.
That boy over there may be Laura's cousin.

No encuentro el lugar en el mapa. Puede que estemos perdidos.
I cannot find the place on the map. We may be lost.

Possibility in the future

Puede que vaya mañana al mercado. No estoy segura todavía.
I may go to the market tomorrow. I am not sure yet.

Puede que mis padres se divorcien pronto.
It is possible that my parents are getting a divorce soon.

Expressing probability/possibility in the past

If the probability is related to a past situation, the verb will be in one of two past subjunctives.

See and listen to the folowing examples:

Carla no ha llegado. Puede que perdiera el tren de las 3.
Carla hasn't arrived. She may have missed the 3 o'clock train.

Puede que yo haya sido un poco brusca, pero tenía que decir la verdad.
I may have been a bit abrupt, but I had to tell the truth.

Puede que Dalí fuera muy excéntrico, pero sin duda era un genio.
Dalí may have been very eccentric, but there is no doubt he was a genius.

No compres mucho alcohol para la fiesta porque puede que los chicos ya hayan comprado bastante.
Don't buy a lot of alcohol for the party because the boys may have already bought quite a lot.

Both El Imperfecto Subjuntivo and El Pretérito Perfecto del Subjuntivo express a possibility in the past. Using one or the other just depends on whether you want to convey the completion of the action (use the perfect subjunctive, e.g., haya ido, haya comprado...) or a more generic action in the past (use the imperfect subjunctive, e.g., fuera, comprara, hiciese...) 

"Puede que" is invariable. It is always conjugated in the present tense and 3rd person singular, regardless of the subject. This would be incorrect: "Puedo que yo no vaya hoy al cine."

See also Using El Subjuntivo or El Indicativo after tal vez and quizás to express doubt

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Puede que vaya mañana al mercado. No estoy segura todavía.
I may go to the market tomorrow. I am not sure yet.


Puede que yo haya sido un poco brusca, pero tenía que decir la verdad.
I may have been a bit abrupt, but I had to tell the truth.


Carla no ha llegado. Puede que perdiera el tren de las 3.
Carla hasn't arrived. She may have missed the 3 o'clock train.


Puede que mis padres se divorcien pronto.
It is possible that my parents are getting a divorce soon.


No encuentro el lugar en el mapa. Puede que estemos perdidos.
I cannot find the place on the map. We may be lost.


No compres mucho alcohol para la fiesta porque puede que los chicos ya hayan comprado bastante.
Don't buy a lot of alcohol for the party because the boys may have already bought quite a lot.


Ese chico de allí puede que sea el primo de Laura.
That boy over there may be Laura's cousin.


Puede que Dalí fuera muy excéntrico, pero sin duda era un genio.
Dalí may have been very eccentric, but there is no doubt he was a genius.


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