I was wondering if the subjunctive is used after gustar/no gustar...

For example, would you say:

A ellos no les gustaba que yo siempre comiera or A ellos no les gustaba que yo siempre comía ??

Another example: Me gusta que hables mucho or Me gusta que hablas mucho ??

Thanks for the help in advance!!

Ten un día maravilloso!

  • Posted Aug 19, 2009
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2 Answers



When you use "gustar" or "to like", all you are doing is to talk about things you enjoy, want or appreciate, but not to inform about facts. If you say:

I like to be invited when I go out

Are you trying to declare that you do get invited when you go out? Or you just mentioned the "getting invited" for the sake of talking about things you like? Here, the "being invited" is not a declaration, but simply an action mentioned because it was needed to complete the meaning of your main declaration: you like something.

In Spanish, when you don't intend to declare things, like "people do invite me when I go out", you use subjunctive. Using indicative in sentence like "Me gusta que..." is very very rare, but not impossible, provided that you have a native-like command of Spanish. One case in which indicative is a bit less unusual with "gustar" is in emphatic constructions like this:

Lo que me gusta es que me inviten/invitan cuando salgo.

Here, indicative is more likely because "gustar" itself is subordinated to another phrase, and the main structure is commonly used to declare things. Here, if you use subjunctive, you simply say what you like; if you use indicative, not only that, but also you'll be declaring that you do get invited every time you go out.

Notice that, against all expectations according to typical traditional grammars, the negative statement should be subjunctive. Well, not necessarily:

Lo que no me gusta es que me inviten/invitan cuando salgo.

Again, if you just talk about what you don't like, you use subjunctive, but if you want to declare that they do invite you every time (and you don't like that), you use indicative. But a simple:

No me gusta que...

clearly intended to just talk about your likes or dislikes, and not to declare facts, wouldn't normally accept indicative.



I'm not sure that the subjunctive applies here at all. The subjunctive is used in a sentence with a main clause and a subordinate clause. (The subordinate clause will have a subject and verb of its own distinct from that of the main clause).

Dudo que ella vaya a hacerlo.

The main clause has a subject and verb (I hope) and the subordinate clause has its own subject and verb (ella vaya a hacer)

In your sentence the clause is serving as the subject of the sentence and is, therefore, part of the main clause.

Rewrite it in English to see my supposition.

A ellos no les gustaba que yo siempre comiera.

[That I was always eating] was not pleasing to them.

You don't have a separate main clause (with its own subject and verb) and a subordinate clause (with its own subject and verb); your clause is part of the main clause. [the subject]