Language Guide
Verbs
Spanish Subjunctive

Spanish Subjunctive

The subjunctive (el subjuntivo ) is one of the three moods in Spanish, the other two being the indicative and the imperative. The subjunctive is used to express desires, doubts, the unknown, the abstract, and emotions. The subjunctive mood includes many of the same verb tenses as the indicative mood, including the perfect, the past, and the future, which is rarely used in modern Spanish, but good to know for literature.

The subjunctive is often compared with the indicative. Check out our comparison here!

Articles on the Different Subjunctive Tenses

Present

Past

Future

Elements of the Subjunctive

There are often three main parts to a subjunctive sentence:

1. Two Different Subjects

Subjunctive sentences often have one subject in the main/independent clause and one in the noun/dependent clause.

Yo quiero que limpies el baño.
I want you to clean the bathroom.
 

2. A Relative Pronoun

Subjunctive sentences often have parts linked by a relative pronoun (que , quien , como ).

Yo quiero que tú limpies el baño.
I want you to clean the bathroom.
 

3. Two Verbs: One WEIRDO and One Subjunctive

Subjunctive sentences often contain a WEIRDO verb (see uses below) that signals that the verb in the next clause will be in the subjunctive.

Yo quiero que tú limpies el baño.
I want you to clean the bathroom.
 

WEIRDO

The acronym WEIRDO stands for Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal Expressions, Recommendations, Doubt/Denial, and Ojalá, which are all situations in which you're likely to use the subjunctive.

Wishes and Desires with the Subjunctive

Wishing, wanting, demanding, desiring, expecting, ordering, and preferring all fall into the category of wishes. Learn more about wishes and desires here.

Esperamos que cocines bien.
We hope that you cook well.
 

Expressing Emotions with the Subjunctive

Being annoyed, angry, happy, regretful, sad, scared, or surprised all fall into this category. Learn more about expressing emotions here.

Me alegro de que sonrías.
It makes me happy that you smile.
 

Impersonal Expressions with the Subjunctive

Impersonal expressions work a lot like emotions in that they express someone’s opinion or value judgement. They focus on the subjectivity of the statement and not on the actual truth or reality of the situation. Learn more about impersonal expressions here.

Es necesario que Jaime lea este libro.
It is necessary that Jaime read this book.
 

Recommendations and Requests with the Subjunctive

When a person recommends, suggests, wants, or asks another person to do (or not do) something, the subjunctive is used. Learn more about recommendations and requests here.

Mi doctor recomienda que beba más agua.
My doctor recommends I drink more water.
 

Doubt and Denial with the Subjunctive

To doubt or deny something is to question its connection with reality or to express that it is hypothetical. Learn more about doubts and denial here.

Dudo que él tenga mi número de teléfono.
I doubt that he has my phone number.
 

Ojalá with the Subjunctive

Ojalá means I hope/pray to God, God willing, I hope, I wish, or if only. Learn more about ojalá here.

¡Ojalá que recuerde nuestro aniversario!
I hope to God he remembers our anniversary.
 

Check out this article on using the subjunctive to express uncertainty or conditional outcomes.

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