Will this sentence take the subjunctive? For example:

Put the spade in the shed when you're done.

My attempt is:

Pon la pala en el cobertizo cuando terminas.

Is it correct or should I use termines (subjunctive) instead?

A similar case would be:

Leave the spade in the shed before you leave.

5 Answers 5


When you are done

Cuando termines

You should use The subjunctive form

Before you leave

Antes de irte

When you are done.

Perfecto del subjuntivo

Cuando hayas terminado. (tu) Cuando hayás terminado. (vos) Cuando haya terminado. (usted)

Vos que cavás, poné la pala en el galpón cuando hayás terminado, hoy no vamos a tener guardia y si la dejás afuera la pueden robar.

Presente de subjuntivo

Cuando terminas (tu) Cuando teminás (vos) Cuando termina (usted)

Vos que trabajás cavando, poné la pala en el galpón cuando terminás, la pueden robar si la dejás afuera.

Futuro simple de subjuntivo

Cuando termines. (tu) Cuando terminés. (vos) Cuando termine. (usted)

Voy a contratarte como cavador, poné la pala en el galpón cuando terminés.

Futuro perfecto de subjuntivo

Cuando hubieres terminado (tu/vos) Cuando hubiere terminado (usted)

Vos vení cavá aquí, poné la pala en el galpón cuando hubieres terminado, depués venís a verme.

Before you leave

Antes de irte. Antes de irse. Antes que te vayas (tu) Antes que te vayás (vos) Antes que se vaya (usted)

Before you leave us.

Antes que nos dejes.

Before you leave the work.

Antes de (tu/vos/usted...) dejar el trabajo Antes que dejes el trabajo (tu) Antes que dejés el trabajo (vos) Antes que deje el trabajo (usted)

. . .


Cuando estés listo/a or Cuando hayas terminado or Cuando termines.

I'm a native Spanish speaker. ;)


I disagree, the subjunctive should not be used. While it may be true that the subjunctive mood usually follows cuando... that is just usually.

Put the spade in the shed when you're done.

has the same mood as

Be ready when I get there.


Pull the lever when the light turns on

Each of these has an expectation, not a doubt. To say cuando termines would imply an infinite timeframe, we would not know whether or not the person would ever even finish whatsoever. So if that is the context you are looking for, then you are correctly using the subjunctive.

Otherwise, your sentence should be

Pon la pala en el cobertizo cuando terminas.`

Now, in your last sentence there is no expectation, and there is no definite point in time suggested. This is a subjunctive mood. and the correct usage is

antes de que...vayas

Further reading.


  • I disagree with your disagreement. It's cuando termines. I don't remember the grammatical rules well enough to explain the reasons, but it's the kind of thing a native speaker knows. It doesn't matter if it's a doubt or an expectation. You have to use the subjunctive. Cuando + present infinitive implies a contiuous action "cuando termino el trabajo, (siempre o habitualmente) guardo la pala". In this case, it is a one-time action and not a continuous one.
    – MikMik
    May 30, 2014 at 14:07
  • I've had this argument with my professors before, and I was told that cuando terminas would be the correct way. Perhaps the rule only applies to when Cuando is in the beginning of the sentence? Cuando terminas, pon la pala en...
    – dockeryZ
    May 30, 2014 at 14:55
  • I think both of you are right, are you the new worker? put the spade on the shed when you're done. - ¿eres el nuevo trabajador? (mi consejo) pon la pala en el galpón quando terminas (de trabajar). Only now, will you work with me today? put the spade on the shed when you're done - ¿vas a trabajar conmigo hoy? pon la pala en el galpón quando termines, but I think that the correct form is Put the spade in the shed when you're done. pon la pala en el galpón cuando hayas terminado. Most grammatical rules are rules not laws, one example is tiempos compuestos en España y América Latina.
    – Helmut
    Jun 5, 2014 at 14:43

In agreement with Nicoli:

Also, before you leave could be = antes que te vayas...


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