When To Use The Spanish Subjunctive: The Ultimate Guide in 2021

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email

In this Spanish grammar lesson, you will learn when to use the Spanish subjunctive.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • indicative mood vs subjunctive mood
  • when to use the Spanish subjunctive
  • how the Spanish subjunctive is used in sentences in Spanish
  • how you can quiz yourself on when to use the Spanish subjunctive
  • how to practice with flashcards on when to use the Spanish subjunctive
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn Spanish

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use the Spanish subjunctive!

Table of Contents

Indicative Mood vs Subjunctive Mood

So far we only handled things in the indicative mood.

In the indicative mood, you indicate or report information.

Look at the following sentence:

I know that you can swim

When you say this sentence, you are certain that the other person can swim, and you are reporting this information.

When you use the subjunctive mood, there is an element of uncertainty.

Have a look at this sentence:

I hope that you can swim.

The second part (clause) of this sentence is in the subjunctive.

This is because you are uncertain whether the other person can swim.

In fact, you desire that the other person knows how to swim.

In such a situation you would use the subjunctive.

In sentences with a subjunctive clause, there is generally an indicative clause that is about emotion, desire, ignorance, or an impersonal opinion related to the action in the subjunctive clause.

When to use the Spanish Subjunctive

You will use the Spanish subjunctive when information can fit in any of these categories:

  1. Emotional statement/comment
  2. Desire
  3. Ignorance
  4. Impersonal opinion
  5. Uncompleted action
  6. “Maybe” and “perhaps”
  7. “Even if”

Emotional Statement/Comment

Whenever you use “emotional/personal feeling + que“, you will use the subjunctive.

Have a look at some examples:

estar

Estoy encantado de que estés aquí.

I am delighted that you are here.

fallar

Estoy ansioso de que falles.

I am anxious that you will fail.

As you can see, everything after “emotional/personal feeling + que” is in the subjunctive.

Desire

esperarto hope
exigirto demand
insistir ento insist (on)
ojaláI strongly hope/if God wills it
pedir (e > i)to request
preferir (e > ie)to prefer
querer (e > ie)to want
rogar (o > ue)to pray, beg
sugerir (e > ie)to suggest

Whenever the verbs in the main clause express a desire, you will use the subjunctive in the subordinate clause.

Have a look at some examples:

hablar

Aquí preferimos que hables en español.

We prefer that you speak Spanish here.

salir

Exigen que salgamos de su casa.

They demand that we leave their house.

With verbs of desire, the personal “a” will not be used when the person may not actually exist.

ser

Quiero un marido que me sea fiel.

I want a husband who is loyal to me.

Currently, you do not have a husband.

This husband that you are talking about may not actually exist.

Ignorance

dudar queto doubt that
no creer queto not believe that
no estar convencido/convencida de queto not be convinced that
no estar seguro/segura de queto not be sure that
no imaginarse queto not imagine that
no parecer queto not seem that
no pensar queto not think that
no suponer queto not suppose that
temer queto suspect/fear that

Whenever the verbs in the main clause express ignorance or doubt, you will use the subjunctive in the subordinate clause

Have a look at some examples:

tocar

Dudo que Carlos toque la guitarra.

I doubt that Carlos plays the guitar.

tener

No creo que tenga las respuestas a este examen.

I don’t believe that he has the answers to this exam.

You may have noticed that a lot of these verbs are in the negative form. You can recognize them by the fact that they begin with a “no“.

The interesting thing is that if you use them in the affirmative (without the “no”), then you will use indicative mood rather than the subjunctive mood.

ser

Estoy seguro de que es nuestro maestro.

I am sure that he is our teacher.

ser

No estoy seguro de que sea nuestro maestro.

I am not sure that he is our teacher.

Uncompleted Action

a menos queunless
antes (de) quebefore
con tal (de) queprovided that
cuandowhen
después (de) queafter
en caso de quein case
hasta queuntil
mientras quewhile
para quein order that/so that
sin quewithout
tan pronto comoas soon as

Whenever an action in the subordinate clause is indefinite or pending, the verb in the subordinate clause will be in the subjunctive. Take a look at this sentence.

“I will sleep when my daughter is back home.” You may believe that your daughter will return, however until she is home you do not know this for certain.

Have a look at some examples:

llegar

Comeré tan pronto como llegue.

I will eat as soon as he arrives.

llamar

Estudiaré hasta que mi madre me llame.

I will study until my mom calls me.

Maybe and Perhaps

acasomaybe/perhaps
quizá(s)maybe/perhaps
tal vezmaybe/perhaps

Whenever a clause is introduced by “maybe” or “perhaps” you will use the subjunctive.

This is because these words introduce a level of uncertainty.

Acaso is more found in writing, whereas quizá(s) and tal vez are more used in speaking.

Have a look at some examples:

estar

Tal vez esté en casa.

Maybe he is at home.

vivir

Quizás viva en Italia.

Perhaps he lives in Italy.

Even if

aunqueeven if/even though/although

Whenever an action has not yet happened or is not known to happen, aunque introduces the subjunctive.

Have a look at some examples:

pasar

Aunque Carlos no pase la prueba, lo ascenderé.

Even if Carlos fails the test, I will promote him.

As you can see it is in the subjunctive mood.

Should the action be happening or have already finished then you will use the indicative mood.

saber

Promoveré a Carlos aunque que está fallando en la prueba.

I will promote Carlos even though I know he is failing the test.

Example Sentences on When To Use The Spanish Subjunctive

This section of the lesson on when to use the Spanish subjunctive is about seeing the mood in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding of when to use the Spanish subjunctive through examples.

estar

Estoy encantado de que estés aquí.

I am delighted that you are here.

fallar

Estoy ansioso de que falles.

I am anxious that you will fail.

hablar

Aquí preferimos que hables en español.

We prefer that you speak Spanish here.

salir

Exigen que salgamos de su casa.

They demand that we leave their house.

ser

Quiero un marido que me sea fiel.

I want a husband who is loyal to me.

tocar

Dudo que Carlos toque la guitarra.

I doubt that Carlos plays the guitar.

tener

No creo que tenga las respuestas a este examen.

I don’t believe that he has the answers to this exam.

ser

Estoy seguro de que es nuestro maestro.

I am sure that he is our teacher.

ser

No estoy seguro de que sea nuestro maestro.

I am not sure that he is our teacher.

llegar

Comeré tan pronto como llegue.

I will eat as soon as he arrives.

llamar

Estudiaré hasta que mi madre me llame.

I will study until my mom calls me.

estar

Tal vez esté en casa.

Maybe he is at home.

vivir

Quizás viva en Italia.

Perhaps he lives in Italy.

pasar

Aunque Carlos no pase la prueba, lo ascenderé.

Even if Carlos fails the test, I will promote him.

saber

Promoveré a Carlos aunque que está fallando en la prueba.

I will promote Carlos even though I know he is failing the test.

Quiz Yourself on When To Use The Spanish Subjunctive

At the end of every lesson you can do a small quiz.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want!

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information on flashcards and the best way to learn a new language.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

Anki is a free software with which you can create and practice flashcards.

After you have downloaded Anki for free, you can get our Spanish B1 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 2,052 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for Spanish B1.

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to learn a new language?

I have been learning languages for over 20+ years and I was always frustrated with books, courses, and classes that I had tried.

It never really seemed to work for me.

I wanted to learn a language in the most effective and efficient way, and there was nothing out there for me.

So I thought, “why not make something myself?“.

Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be an easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

However, I also created courses that are much more comprehensive and in-depth.

These courses are easy to follow, clear, and allow you to become fluent in the most effective and efficient way.

The courses of Language Atlas have:

  • 800+ Lessons with audio
  • 800+ Quizzes
  • 10,000 Flashcards with explanations, images, and audio
  • A gamified way of learning a new language
  • A vibrant community (including support from me)

You can register for free and try the French A0/A1 and Spanish A0/A1 Courses for free!

This includes over 60 lessons and quizzes, 500 flashcards that adapt to how you learn, and access to the community (including support from me).

All you have to do is study 30 minutes a day and you will be fluent in no time!

Don’t miss out – register for free and start learning!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Don't miss out on any new Spanish Lessons! You will also get a free copy of our graphical overview of all French Verb Tenses, and the Spanish A0/A1 Anki Deck!

More To Explore

Best Spanish Anki Decks
Anki
Best Spanish Anki Decks [2021]

Are you looking for the best Spanish Anki Decks? If so, look no further! With over 2,000 downloads and only 5-star reviews, we can say

Best French Anki Decks
Anki
Best French Anki Decks [2021]

Are you looking for the best French Anki Decks? If so, look no further! With over 2,000 downloads and only 5-star reviews, we can say

Do You have any feedback? let me know!

I would love to know how I can make learning Languages easier for you