Grammar Tips: Spanish Subjunctive Part I

Grammar Tips: Spanish Subjunctive Part I


There are few things in the Spanish language more difficult for English speakers to get a grasp on than the subjunctive. One common fallacy is that students believe the subjunctive is a tense when in fact it is a mood. There are two moods in the Spanish-language: the indicative and subjunctive. The indicative mood is used to describe all that is concrete and habitual whereas the subjunctive describes that which is in any way hypothetical.

To learn to use the subjunctive one must look at the various situations in which it is used. In this blog we will focus on the uses of the subjunctive with verbs of influence, uncertainty, emotion and doubt.

In the sentence, “I hope that my brother prepares sushi,”  we find all the elements necessary to elicit the use of the subjunctive in the secondary clause:

1) one subject in the main clause (I) which is different than that of the secondary clause (my brother)

2) the use of the conjunction ‘que’

3) the use of a verb of influence (hope)

In simpler terms, just because I hope that something happens does not necessarily mean it will and this is reflected in Spanish by the use of the subjunctive mood in the secondary clause.

I hope that my brother prepares sushi.

Yo espero que mi hermano prepare sushi.

Other common verbs of influence:

desear – to desire

querer (e-ie) – to want

preferir (e-ie)  – to prefer

pedir (e-i) – to ask

prohibir – to forbid

persuadir – to persuade

rogar (o-ue) – to beg

aconsejar – to advise

insistir – to insist

exigir – to demand

mandar – to order

recomendar (e-ie) – to recommend

sugerir (e-i) – to suggest

impedir (e-i) – to prevent

Verbs of uncertainty, doubt and emotion are also triggers of the subjunctive.

I doubt Maria is working today.

Yo dudo que María trabaje hoy.

negar (e-ie) – to deny

temer – to fear

alegrarse de – to be happy

The expressions below are followed by the indicative in the affirmative but subjunctive in the negative!

no creer – to not believe

no estar convencido/a de – to not be convinced of

no estar seguro/a de – to not be sure of

no imaginarse – to not believe/imagine

no parecer – to not seem

no pensar (e-ie) – to not think

no suponer – to not suppose




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