Grammar Guide
Expressing Wishes and Desires with the Subjunctive

Expressing Wishes and Desires with the Subjunctive

Quick Answer

The subjunctive (el subjuntivo ) is one of three moods in Spanish, and it is often used to talk about wishes and desires.


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 wishes.


Wishing, wanting, demanding, desiring, expecting, ordering, and preferring all fall into the category of wishes. Additionally, mentioning the nonexistence or indefiniteness of something that is desired falls into this category.

Wishing Verbs

The following verbs are commonly used to express a wish or desire and, when used as the verb in the main clause of a sentence, will indicate that the following verb in the dependent clause will be in the subjunctive.

to be grateful
to insist
no tener
to not have
to look for
to order
to request
to wish
to need
to prefer
to hope, to expect
no encontrar
to not find
to want
to demand
no haber
there is/are not

Check out these examples. Note that they all use one of the above wishing verbs in conjunction with the word que.

Solo te pido que mantengas la calma.
I just ask that you retain your composure.
Esperamos que cocines bien.
We hope that you cook well.
El rey desea que cenes con él.
The king wishes you to dine with him.
Quiero salir con un hombre que me compre flores.
I want to date a guy who buys me flowers.

You can find more on the differences between the subjunctive and the indicative here!

Quiz: Expressing Wishes and Desires with the Subjunctive

Take a practice quiz on "Expressing Wishes and Desires with the Subjunctive"
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