HomeQ&Asubjunctive with no change of subject

subjunctive with no change of subject


Is this sentence correct grammatically? No creo que yo pueda ir.

I'm wondering how to justify the use of subjunctive here (I know there's doubt), since there is no change of subject.

updated Mar 25, 2017
posted by caritag
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Six hours, still no response or profile. Oh well! (Big sigh.) - Daniela2041, Dec 30, 2015

3 Answers


Sorry, this is one of those that I have to respond to. Although not as bad as the ser for permanent estar for temporary rule that I continuously rail at, the change of subject rule for subjunctive is very confusing.

If you don’t have a change of subject you cannot use the subjunctive. Dead wrong.

If you don’t have a change of subject you should consider whether you can use an infinitive in the place of the subjunctive to create a more natural sentence. Yes. This is it.

Quiero que salgas conmigo. I want you to go out with me. Subject change, no way of switching to an infinitive. So you use subjunctive.

Quiero salir contigo. I want to go out with you. No subject change you can use an infinitive. This is the simplest most natural way of saying this

Quiero que yo salga contigo. If you choose not to use the infinitive, you must use subjunctive. I assert that this is a grammatically correct, highly unnatural sentence that no one would say as it is unnecessarily complex given the simpler alternative before. So it is not natural, but it is correct.

Quiero que yo salgo contigo. Grammatically incorrect as I understand it, as quiero would require subjunctive, but as Daniela notes she sees it used. Since there is not subject change, anyone trying to speak naturally would simply use the infinitive in truly proper Spanish though.

Now in certain cases with no subject change, you do not normally revert to an infinitive, and must use the subjunctive without a subject change.

Here is an example from out dictionary, this is not a sentence I made up, but note it follows the same rules:

dudo que yo haya dicho eso I doubt I said that;(really I doubt I have said that)

No subject change, but subjunctive used.

There are also times when there is a subject change with a verb that would require subjunctive, that based on the verb allow you to use an infinitive in place of the subjunctive, despite the subject change.

Two more examples from out dictionary:

Esta maquinaria nos permite tener una producción mayor.This machinery allows us to have a bigger production.

El juez permitió que al acusado se dejara en libertad bajo caución. The judge permitted the accused to be released on bail.

Both involve subject change, in the first the subject of tener is obvious as nos,, not esta maquina and so it was not conjugated in subjunctive- in the second, since the subject had not been introduced earlier, the writer chose to use a que phrase with subjunctive conjugated to el acusado.

I know no one really cares about my input on this, but here it is anyway.

updated Mar 25, 2017
posted by bosquederoble
This answer is so quietly brilliant that I have to re-read it when I've finished cooking. Really, our various time-zones are annoying at times. - annierats, Dec 30, 2015
"Quietly brilliant" is such an apt description of this thoughtful and helpful answer that I'm merely going to second it! ¡Mil gracias, bosquederoble! - LindaMcL, Mar 25, 2017

Most Spanish speakers will avoid these kind of constructions by using impersonal expressions such as.

Es dudoso que (yo) pueda ir.

Many will just use the indicative (especially in Mexifornia) "No creo que puedo ir."

A few will use the weird "No creo poder ir." Actually that follows a really unknown rule, that is found in the textbooks.

updated Jan 1, 2016
posted by Daniela2041
Is this "no change of subject" a lesson in Spanish language courses these days? I've seen this come up regularly as a lesson in a class. My response was in the area of "Teach a man to fish..." if you are familiar with that saying. - Jubilado, Dec 30, 2015
I know the saying. It's just that this "no change of subject" is taught in the textbook "Panorama, introducción a la lengua española" 4a edición. - Daniela2041, Dec 30, 2015
And I couldn't find it in the link you gave. They just sort of dance around it. - Daniela2041, Dec 30, 2015

You can research you answer here on this site by clicking on the link. This question has been asked many times. If you plan to continue using the forum, please put your gender and levels of proficiency in English and Spanish.

Spanish Subjunctive

Go down the page and look for examples under the word doubt.

updated Mar 25, 2017
posted by Jubilado
The problem here is there is N O change of subject. I didn't see this covered in the link. - Daniela2041, Dec 30, 2015
Where do you enter your levels of proficiency? I think my name answers the gender question! - LindaMcL, Mar 25, 2017
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