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.
Articles on the Different Subjunctive Tenses
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.
2. A Relative Pronoun
Subjunctive sentences often have parts linked by a relative pronoun (que, quien, como).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.