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Spanish languageSubjuntivo - Spanish Subjunctive with Verbs and Impersonal Expressions

The Spanish subjunctive mood is usually considered the most difficult verb form for students, but hopefully this lesson will simplify matters for you. In Parts I and II, we learned about Spanish subjunctive conjugations. In Part III, we'll take a look at using the Spanish subjunctive with verbs and impersonal expressions. In Part IV, we'll examine the subjunctive with conjunctions and relative pronouns, and in Part V, we'll look at the subjunctive in adjective clauses.

The subjunctive is a verb mood, not a tense. Mood refers to the attitude of the speaker toward the action/condition of the verb - how likely/factual the statement is. The subjunctive mood is subjective; it expresses emotional, potential, and hypothetical attitudes about what is being expressed - things like will/wanting, emotion, doubt, possibility, necessity, judgment. The "normal" verb mood is called the indicative and is used for factual or definite statements about reality.

The Spanish subjunctive is often found in dependent clauses introduced by que (that). The subjects of the dependent and main clauses are usually different (if the subjects are the same, the infinitive can be used instead of the subjunctive).

Quiero que tu lo hagas. I want you do it.
No es cierto que yo venga. It's not certain that I will come (am coming).

The subjunctive is used when the main clause expresses subjectivity, as summarized below. (Some of the English translations may seem a little awkward: "that" is not always required in English, and we sometimes use a completely different structure which avoids the subjunctive altogether)

I. Verbs/expressions of will or want which express an order, a need, a piece of advice, or a desire:

aconsejar que to advise
decir que to tell
dejar que to let, allow
desear que to desire that
es hora que it's time that
es importante que it is important that
es necesario que it is necessary that
esperar que to hope that
es preciso que it is necessary that
evitar que to avoid
exigir que to demand that
hacer falta que to be necessary that
hacer que to make, force
impedir que to prevent
insistir en que to insist that
invitar que to invite
mandar que to order
necesitar que to need
pedir que to ask (someone to do something)
permitir que to permit
preferir que to prefer that
prohibir que to forbid
proponer que to propose that
querer que to want that
recomendar que to recommend
rogar que to request, beg
sugerir que to suggest that

II. Verbs/expressions of emotion or feeling which indicate fear, happiness, anger, regret, surprise, or other sentiments or biases.

alegrarse de que to be happy that
es bueno que it's good that
es conveniente que it's convenient that
es difícil que it's hard
es extraño que it's strange that
es fácil que it's easy
es increíble que it's incredible that
es interesante it's interesting that
es inútil que it's useless that (there's no point)
es justo que it's fair that
es (una) lástima que it's a pity that
es malo que it's ( too) bad that
es mejor que it's better that
es peor que it's worse that
es preferible que it's preferable that
es raro que it's strange that
es triste que it's sad that
es útil que it's useful that
estar contento que to be happy that
estar triste que to be sad that
extrañarse que to be amazed that
gustarse que to like
más vale que it's better that
sentir que to regret, be sorry that
sorprenderse que to be surprised that
temer que to fear that
tener miedo que to be afraid that

III. Verbs/expressions of doubt, possibility, opinion

aparecer que to appear, seem that
buscar ... que* to look for
detestar que to hate
dudar que to doubt
es dudoso que it is doubtful that
es imposible que it is impossible that
es improbable que it is improbable that
es posible que it is possible that
es probable que it is probable that
negar que to deny
no es cierto que it is not certain that
no es claro que it's not clear that
no es evidente que it is not obvious that
no es obvio que it is not obvious that
no es que it's not that
no está seguro que it is not certain that
no es verdad que it is not true that
tal vez perhaps

*Busco un libro que me interese (it may not exist = doubt)
Busco el libro que estoy leyendo (I know it exists = no doubt)

Note: the following verbs and expressions do not take the subjunctive when they are used in the affirmative, because they express facts which are considered certain. When negative or interrogatory, they require the subjunctive (Example: ¿Crees que él sea triste? Si, creo que es triste; No, no creo que sea triste):

conocer (alguien) que to know (someone) that
creer que to believe that
espérer que to hope that
estar cierto que to be certain that
estar seguro que to be sure that
es cierto que it is certain that
es claro que it's clear that
es evidente que it is obvious that
es seguro que it is certain that
es una realidad it's a fact that
es un hecho it's a fact that
es verdad que it is true that
pensar que to think that
saber que to know that

The verbs dudar (to doubt) and negar (to deny) take the subjunctive when they are affirmative, but not when they are negative.

Dudo que venga. I doubt he'll come.
No dudo que viene. I don't doubt that he'll come.

That's it for the Spanish subjunctive with verbs and impersonal expressions; time to move on to the subjunctive with conjunctions.  

More Spanish Subjunctive



Spanish Subjunctive Tenses:

Spanish Verbs     Spanish for Beginners


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