Help! What Exactly Is Spanish Subjunctive?

Help! What Exactly Is Spanish Subjunctive

Learning Spanish has numerous benefits for both your social life and your career. While you’re be amped to learn the language, you may struggle along the way. One problem that a lot of people have when learning Spanish is knowing when to use a subjunctive in Spanish. After all, why does Spanish have two words, comemos and comamos, to mean “we eat?”

Today, we’re going to shed some light on what subjunctive is, how to use them, and give you a few tips on how to learn proper subjunctive use.

What Is A Spanish Subjunctive?

el subjuntivo spanish

A Spanish subjunctive (el subjuntivo) is one of three “moods,” the other two being indicative and imperative. The Spanish moods are used to reflect your mood toward the statement. These moods include:

  • Indicative Mood – Indicative mood is used to describe things that are either certain or objective. This means it can be used to talk about scheduled events, descriptions, and facts. Note: indicative doesn’t mean the statement is the truth. As long as the speaker believes the statement to be true, then indicative moods may be used.
  • ​Example: Victoria estudia español. (Victoria studies Spanish.)
  • ​In this example, the speaker is saying Victoria studies Spanish as an objective fact.
  • Subjunctive Mood – Subjunctive mood is used to describe things that are subjective or in the realm of possibility without knowing for certain. This means it can be used to talk about doubts, wishes, desires, emotions, recommendations, and opinions.
  • Example: Es posible que Victoria estudie español. (It is possible that Victoria studies Spanish.)
  • In this example, the speaker is suggesting that Victoria may (or may not) study Spanish – it’s all hypothetical at this point.
  • Imperative Mood – Imperative mood is used to give a command.

​It’s important to note that there is a difference between subjunctive mood in Spanish and subjunctive tense in Spanish. Subjunctive tense refers to when something takes place, such as in the past, present or the future. Mood, however, refers to how someone feels about the action.

Although subjunctive mood isn’t used very often in English, you’ll find subjunctive mood in Spanish used quite frequently.

When To Use Subjunctive In Spanish

Es bueno que tengas tiempo libre Spanish

The subjunctive in Spanish gives you the ability to voice your concern, doubt, or conditionality. When using the subjunctive, the verbs will need a specific conjugation. The easiest way you’ll learn how to use a subjunctive is by learning what “triggers” will tell people what your sentence is going to be subjective.

Let’s take a look at these subjunctive Spanish examples:

  • ​“Es probable que salgamos tarde”. (It’s likely we’ll leave late.)
  • ​“Es bueno que tengas tiempo libre”. (It’s good that you have free time.)

​The subjunctive verb in the first sentence expresses an indefinite outcome. The second sentence expressive an opinion about whether or not it is good to have free time. If we removed the subjunctive mood from these sentences, they would simply be:

  • ​“Salimos tarde”. (We left late.)
  • ​“Tienes tiempo libre”. (You have free time.)

​Notice the “es probable” and “es bueno” are absent in the new examples? That’s because those two phrases are clear giveaways that the sentence is going to be subjective.

Here’s a brief list of common triggers for subjunctive mood in Spanish:

  • ​es importante que (it’s important that)
  • dudar que (to doubt that)
  • ​es bueno que (it’s good that)
  • check
    es malo que (it’s bad that)
  • check
    esperar que (to hope/wish that)
  • check
    es mejor que (it’s better that)
  • check
    es raro que (it’s strange that)
  • check
    es posible que (it’s possible that)
  • check
    es probable que (it’s likely that)
  • check
    es necesario que (it’s necessary that)
  • check
    hasta que (until)
  • check
    ojalá que (hopefully)
  • check
    no es cierto que (it’s not certain that)
  • check
    mientras que (meanwhile/while)
  • check
    sin que (without)

​Tips For Learning How To Use The Spanish Subjunctive

When you’re learning how to use the Spanish subjunctive, keep these rules in mind:

  • WEIRDO. This is the simplest way to remember when to use subjunctives.
  • Wishes: Whatever you wish, hope, dream, expect from someone.
  • Emotions: When you want to say how you’re feeling
  • Impersonal Expressions: Something is subjective but you want to say it in an impersonal manner
  • Recommendations: When you tell or suggest someone to do something
  • Doubts: If you aren’t 100% certain of something
  • Ojalá: Th English equivalent to this is like, “God willing,” or “I hope to God.”

​Always remember that when you’re using subjunctive in Spanish, you are going to be dealing with two subjects. This plays into the “uncertainty” element, because while you could have an inner monologue about why you love yogurt and take it as a fact. However, if you (subject 1) are talking to a friend (subject 2) about what you think they feel about yogurt, you can’t say for certain if it’s truthful or not.

  • ​Example: “I think he likes yogurt.” (You don’t know for certain if he does like yogurt.)

With that said, if you know for a fact that he does like yogurt, you don’t have to add the “I think…” statement because you actually know that, yes, he likes yogurt.

Along with the theme of “uncertainty,” subjunctives are also used whenever you begin a statement with the word “When” and then talk about something you will do in the future.

  • Example: “Cuando llego a casa, como la merienda.” (When I get home, I eat a snack.)

​Final Thoughts On The Spanish Subjunctive

Spanish WEIRDOs

Learning a new language is going to be tricky, especially when you’re trying to figure out when to use subjunctives in Spanish. However, when you keep the acronym, WEIRDO, in your mind, you’ll have a much easier time knowing when to use it.

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