Expressing Doubt and Denial with the Subjunctive

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Quick Answer

The subjunctive (el subjuntivo) is one of three moods in Spanish, and it is often used to express doubt and denial.


Many of the verbs and phrases that require the subjunctive fit into the acronym WEIRDO: Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal expressions, Recommendations, Doubt/Denial and Ojalá. In this article, we're going to take a look at doubt and denial.


To doubt or deny something is to question its connection with reality or to express that it is hypothetical, which is why expressions of doubt and denial tend to trigger use of the subjunctive.

Useful Verbs of Doubt

These verbs and verb phrases are commonly used to express doubt.

to doubt
no creer
to not believe
no pensar
to not think
to deny
no estar seguro
to be unsure
no suponer
to not assume
no comprender
to not understand
no parecer
to not seem

Doubting: Indicative or Subjunctive?

  • Verbs that follow the verbs comprender(to understand), creer(to believe), estar seguro(to be sure), parecer(to seem), pensar(to think), and suponer(to assume) are normally used in the indicative.
  • Verbs that follow the negated forms of the above verbs (no comprender, no parecer, etc.) are normally used in the subjunctive.

Check out these examples. The first example in each pair uses the indicative, while the second pair uses the subjunctive.

Creo que te va a gustar esta canción.
I think you're going to like this song.
No creo que te vaya a gustar esta canción.
I don't think you're going to like this song.
Estoy seguro que él tiene mi número de teléfono.
I'm sure he has my phone number.
Dudo que él tenga mi número de teléfono.
I doubt that he has my phone number.

Finally, here are some more examples of the subjunctive used with phrases that introduce a sense of doubt or denial.

No parece que vaya a mejorar la situación.
It doesn't appear that the situation will improve.
No supones que quiera escapar, ¿o sí?
You don't suppose he wants to escape, do you?
No estoy seguro que mi madre venga.
I am not sure that my mother is coming.
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