Explanation

Quick Answer

We know learning the subjunctive can be hard. ¡No te rindas!(Don’t give up!) Learning subjunctive trigger words (words that require the use of the subjunctive) will make knowing when to use the subjunctive mood more manageable!

It’s a good idea to study these subjunctive trigger words alongside the uses of the subjunctive. The easiest way to learn the uses of the subjunctive is with the acronym WEIRDO, which stands for Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal Expressions, Recommendations, Doubt/Denial, and Ojalá. These are all situations in which you're likely to use the subjunctive.

The trigger words listed are all in the present tense yoform. For more information on how to use these trigger words in different forms and tenses, check out the last paragraph of this article!

Wishes and Desires

Here's a list of phrases commonly used to express a wish or desire that trigger the subjunctive:

In this list we've also included trigger words that express the nonexistence of something.

SpanishEnglish
busco ... que
I’m looking for …. that/who
deseo que
I wish
espero que
I hope
necesito que
I need
no conozco ... que
I don't know .... who/that
no hay ... que
there isn't/aren't ... who/that
no tengo ... que
I don't have ... that
prefiero que
I prefer
quiero que
I want

Let’s check out some examples!

examples
Busco una casa que tenga tres baños.
I'm looking for a house that has three bathrooms.
Espero que se diviertan.
I hope you have fun.

Click here to learn more about expressing wishes and desires with the subjunctive.

Emotions

Since how a person feels is always subjective, you use the subjunctive. Take a look at this list of emotions that require the use of the subjunctive.

SpanishEnglish
lamento queor siento queI’m sorry that
me alegro de que
I’m happy that
me encanta que
I love it when
me extraña que
I find it odd that
me gusta que
I like/I like it when
me molesta que
it bothers me that
me sorprende que
I’m surprised that
tengo miedo de que
I’m scared that

Let’s take a look at a few examples!

examples
Me alegro de que estés aquí.
I’m happy you’re here.
Me molesta que mi vecino no corte el césped.
It bothers me that my neighbor doesn’t mow his lawn.

Click here to learn more about expressing emotions with the subjunctive.

Impersonal Expressions

Here's a list of some useful impersonal expressions you can use with the subjunctive:

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
es agradable que
it’s nice that
es estupendo que
it’s great that
es necesario que
it’s necessary that
es urgente que
it’s urgent that
es bueno que
it’s good that
es extraño que
it’s strange that
es probable que
it’s probable that
es vergonzoso que
it’s a disgrace that
es curioso que
it’s curious/weird that
es importante que
it’s important that
es raro que
it’s rare/strange that
no es cierto que
it’s not certain that
es dudoso que
it’s doubtful that
es increíble que
it’s incredible that
es recomendable que
it’s recommended that
no es un hecho que
it’s not a fact that
es esencial que
it’s essential that
es fantástico que
it’s fantastic that
es malo que
it’s bad that
es una lástima que
it’s a pity that
más vale que
it would be better if
no es verdad que
it’s not true that

For example:

examples
Es extraño que vivas en el sótano de tu madre.
It’s strange that you live in your mom’s basement.
Es importante que estudiemos.
It’s important that we study.

Click here to learn more about using the subjunctive with impersonal expressions.

Recommendations and Requests

When a person recommends, suggests, wants, or asks another person to do (or not do) something, the subjunctive is used. The following verbs are commonly used to give recommendations or to request something.

SpanishEnglish
exijo que
I demand that
insisto en que
I insist that
mando que
I command that
pido que
I ask that
prohíbo que
I forbid
recomiendo queor aconsejo queI recommend that
ruego que
I beg
sugiero que
I suggest that

Check out these examples!

examples
Recomiendo que duermas mucho.
I recommend that you get plenty of sleep.
Exijo que todos los estudiantes reciban las mismas oportunidades.
I demand that every student is given the same opportunities.

Click here to learn more about expressiog recommendations and requests with the subjunctive.

Doubt/Denial

Expressions of doubt and denial tend to trigger use of the subjunctive. Here's a list of phrases that are commonly used to express doubt:

SpanishEnglish
dudo que
I doubt that
niego que
I deny that
no creo que
I don’t think that
no estoy seguro de que
I’m not sure that
no parece que
it doesn’t seem that
no pienso que
I don’t think that
examples
No creo que me ames.
I don’t think that you love me.
Dudo que Lola venga a la fiesta.
I doubt that Lola will come to the party.

Click here to learn more about using the subjunctive with verbs of doubt/denial.

Ojalá

Ojalá(I hope/I wish/hopefully/if only) triggers the use of the subjunctive. Ojalá is often used with the relative pronoun que.

For example:

examples
Ojalá nos veamos pronto.
Hopefully we’ll see each other soon.
Ojalá que se casen.
I hope they get married.

Click here to learn more about using ojalá with the subjunctive.

Adverb Clauses

In addition to the WEIRDO subjunctive triggers, there are many adverb clauses in Spanish that trigger the use of the subjunctive. Here's a list:

SpanishEnglishSpanishEnglish
a condición de que
on condition that
a fin de que
in order (that), so that, so as
a menos que
unless, lest
a no ser que
unless, lest
antes (de) que
before
a pesar de que
in spite of
aun cuando
even if, even when
aunque
although, even if, though
con tal (de) que
provided that
cuando
when
de manera que
in order (that), so that, so as
de modo que
in order (that), so that, so as
después (de) que
after
en caso (de) que
in case (that), if
en cuanto
as soon as
hasta que
until
luego que
as soon as
mientras
as long as
para que
in order (that), so that, so as
sea que
whether, if
siempre que
whenever
siempre y cuando
provided that, as long as
sin que
without
tan pronto como
as soon as

¡Cuidado! These trigger words do not always take the subjunctive. Sometimes the indicative is used.

Take a look at these examples!

examples
No dejaré de llamar hasta que me devuelvan mi dinero.
I won’t stop calling until I get my money back.
Con tal de que saques buenas notas este semestre, puedes irte de vacaciones con tus amigos.
As long as you get good grades this semester, you can go on vacation with your friends.

Click here to learn more about learning the subjunctive in adverb clauses.

Subjunctive Triggers Using Different Forms and Tenses

Most of the subjunctive triggers listed can be changed to a different tense and form. You can change the verbs to the past tense, but then you will need to make sure to use the imperfect subjunctive instead of the present subjunctive.

For example:

examples
Le pedí que me prestara dinero.
I asked him to lend me money.
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