The subjunctive (subjuntivo) is one of three moods in Spanish (indicative, imperative, and subjunctive). A mood is a grammatical term which helps categorize verb tenses. The subjunctive mood is used more frequently in Spanish than in English. It has two simple tenses, present and past (or imperfect), and two compound tenses, present perfect and pluperfect. It expresses several concepts, such as a wish, hope, or doubt, as well as an obligation or a necessity. One such expression which is always followed by the subjunctive is para que… so that…Siempre le danzábamos…para que la cosecha fuera buena.
We always danced for her… so that the harvest was good.
Because the subjunctive often occurs in subordinate clauses, the subordinating conjunction que is usually found before the the subjunctive forms.Quieren que yo les haga un trabajo.
They want me to do a job for them.
Will, Desire, and Orders
The subjunctive is used in dependent clauses after expressions of will, desire, and orders whenever there are two different subjects in the two clauses linked by the subordinating conjunction que. Here is a list of common verbs expressing will and desire:
|querer que||to want that …|
|pedir que||to ask that …|
|preferir que||to prefer that …|
|ordenar que||to order that …|
|esperar que||to hope that …|
|mandar que||to order that…|
|desear que||to desire that …|
|exigir que||to require that …|
I hope that Spanish becomes maybe another official language in the United States.
Emotions and Reactions
The subjunctive is used after expressions of emotion and reactions to something. Remember that the subjunctive is found in the subordinate clause of sentences that contain a change of subject from the main clause to the subordinate clause. A very common structure that triggers the subjunctive is es + adjective + que expressing opinions. Here is a list of common expressions of emotion with which the subjunctive is found in the subordinate clause:
|me gusta que||I like that||es fundamental que||it is key that|
|me molesta que||it annoys me that||sentir que||to be sorry that|
|me encanta que||I am delighted that||es bueno que||it is good that|
|me sorprende que||I am surprised that||es inútil que||it is useless that|
|es bonito que||it is nice that||temer que||to fear that|
|es importante que||it is important that||es urgente que||it is urgent that|
|es triste que||it is sad that||tener miedo de que||to fear that|
|es justo que||it is fair that||es absurdo que||it is absurd that|
It is very nice that they speak both languages.
The expressions es cierto que, it is true that, es obvio que, it is obvious that, es verdad que, it is true that, and es evidente que, it is evident that are exceptions since they are followed by the indicative and not by the subjunctive.Es verdad que hay ciertos principios que uno puede aplicar.
It is true that there are some principles that one can apply.
However, when these expressions are used in the negative, in the subordinate clause the subjunctive is used.
No es evidente que tengas razón. It is not evident that you are right.
Negative Opinions and Doubt
The subjunctive occurs in dependent clauses introduced by verbs and expressions of doubt or negative opinions whenever there are two different subjects in the two clauses linked by the subordinating conjunction que. Here is a list of common expressions of negative opinion and doubt with which the subjunctive is found in the subordinate clause:
|no creer que||to not believe that …|
|no pensar que||to not think that …|
|dudar que||to doubt that …|
|no opinar que||to not think that …|
|no me/te/le/nos/les parece que||it doesn’t seem to me/you/him that…|
Actually no, I do not think this is fair.
Remember that such expressions of opinion, when used in affirmative statements, are followed by the indicative.Creo que voy a quedarme con una familia para que pueda practicar español en la casa.
I think I will stay with a family so that I can practice Spanish at home.
Conjunctions with Subjunctive
When the following conjunctions introduce a subordinate clause with a new subject, they always trigger the subjunctive. Remember that the subjects of the subordinate clause and of the main clause are different.
|para que||so that|
|a menos que||unless that|
|con tal de que||provided that|
|antes de que||before that|
|a fin de que||in order that|
Unless you like paper or cardboard pizza I would not recommend it.
After the connector aunque (although), both the indicative and the subjunctive can be used.Aunque toda mi vida he vivido aquí en los Estados Unidos.
Although all my life I have lived here in the United Sates. Aunque crezcas entre la pobreza, aunque crezcas entre la ignorancia, aunque crezcas entre gente que, entre las pandillas ah… no es excusa alguna como para que tú decidas hacer decisiones incorrectas en tu vida.
Although you grow up among poverty, although you grow up among ignorance, although you grow up among people that, among gangs uh… that is not an excuse for choosing to make wrong decisions in your life.
Time expressions also require the subjunctive, when they refer to a future event.
|en cuanto||as soon as|
|tan pronto como||as soon as|
|después de que||after|
I repeat the word again and again until it sounds right.
Si (If) Clauses
The subjunctive is also used in some hypothetical clauses with si (if) along with the conditional or the past conditional.
Si hubiera ahorrado más, ahora tendría más dinero. If I had saved more, now I would have had more money.
For more uses of the subjunctive mood and to learn more about which subjunctive tense you should use, see also the page about tense sequences.