Robert Sanford: Volunteer Honduras: Teaching English Program: July 2013

Spanish Grammar in Use

SubjunctiveThe 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…

Because the subjunctive often occurs in subordinate clauses, the subordinating conjunction que is usually found before the the subjunctive forms.

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 …

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
es justo que it is fair that es absurdo que it is absurd that

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.

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.

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