The Spanish subjunctive mood is clearly ubiquitous. As a Spanish learner, you will definitely see it as much as the indicative mood. That is not bad, though. It means you will have lots of opportunities to use it, practice it, and hopefully, master it. Knowing the subjunctive mood means you will be taking basic communication in Spanish to the next level.
As you may have read in our Moods in Spanish article, this mood is used when referring to or implying an uncertainty about a series of events or situations. In terms of usage, it helps you express your opinions more smoothly and talk about subtleties of the language that cannot easily be uttered in English. Spanish grammar rules are not always easy to learn, but those rules are what will help you get through instead of get by.
Broken down into categories, here are some common Spanish subjunctive sentences:
Spanish subjunctive sentences normally contain four main parts: a main clause, a dependent clause (or noun in this case), a relative pronoun (que, quien, como), and a verb. It is important to remember that in most cases the verb in the first clause has to be conjugated in the indicative mood. The verb in the dependent clause then takes the subjunctive.
Many struggle to remember which verbs are often used at the beginning of subjunctive sentences, but here is a fun way to do so. Take the acronym WEIRDO which stands for Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal statements, Recommendations, Doubts and Orders. (The O can also stand for the very Spanish expression Ojalá.)
Yo prefiero que no hables con él. - I'd prefer if you didn't talk to him.
Yo quiero que tú hables francés. - I want you to speak French.
Yo quiero que tú busques un nuevo apartamento. - I want you to look for a new apartment.
Te ordeno que limpies tu cuarto. - I order you to clean up your room.
Yo espero que tú vengas a mi fiesta. - I hope you will come to my party.
Ella espera que yo vaya a su casa el próximo sábado. - She hopes I will go to her house next Saturday.
¡Ojalá que tú ganes el concurso! - I hope you win the contest.
¡Ojalá que llueva! -- I hope it rains.
Yo dudo que él compre esa casa. - I doubt he will buy that house.
Ella duda que yo hable con su supervisor. Se equivoca. - She doubts I will talk to her supervisor. She is wrong.
Yo no creo que él deba ir a la reunión. - I don't think he should go to the meeting.
Ella no cree que yo pueda encontrar una solución a este predicamento. - She doesn't think I can find a solution to this predicament.
Yo no considero que esa sea una buena idea. - I don't consider that to be a good idea.
Yo espero que ella piense en otras posibilidades antes de tomar una decisión. - I hope she thinks about other possibilities before making a decision.
¿No crees que ella sea una buena persona? - Don't you think she is a good person?
¿No crees que yo tenga buenas intenciones? - Don't you think I have good intentions?
Notice how these sentences contain two clauses joined by the relative pronoun que, which, in turn, introduces the subjunctive in all cases. Also, the verbs creer ''to believe'', considerar ''to consider'', and pensar ''to think'' are conjugated in the subjunctive mood in negative sentences and questions.
While these types of sentences do belong in the above category, they need to have their own section because there are several impersonal statements that serve as subjunctive indicators. For instance: es bonito que ''it is nice that'', es importante que ''it is important that'', es triste que ''it is sad that'', es justo que ''it is fair that'', es bueno que ''it is good that'', among others.
Es bonito que seas amable con la gente. - It is nice that you are kind to people.
Es bonito que ella hable tres idiomas. - It is nice that she speaks three languages.
Es importante que tú seas más cuidadoso. - It is important that you be more careful.
Es importante que tú busques otro profesor de inglés. - It is important that you look for another English teacher.
Es triste que ella no pueda venir a la fiesta. - It is sad that she can't come to the party.
Es triste que uds ya no estén juntos. - It is sad that you aren't together anymore.
Es justo que ellos tengan otra oportunidad. - It is fair that they have another opportunity.
Es justo que tu mamá sepa la verdad. - It is fair that your mom knows the truth.
Es bueno que sean amigos nuevamente. - It is good that you're friends again.
Es bueno que te sientas así. -- It is good that you feel like that.
Certain subjunctive sentences do not necessarily start with another clause, sometimes indefinite pronouns can also serve as subjunctive indicators. For instance: dondequiera ''wherever'', cualquiera ''whichever'' or ''whatever'', quienquiera ''whomever'' or ''whoever'', comoquiera ''whatever'' or ''however.''
Dondequiera que estés, siempre estaremos juntos. - Wherever you are, we'll always be together.
Dondequiera que vayas, siempre serás exitoso. - Wherever you go, you'll always be successful.
Cualquiera que sea la situación política, lo mejor es ser objetivo. - Whatever the political situation, the best thing to do is to be objective.
Cualquiera que sea tu sueño, debes intentar seguirlo. - Whatever your dream, you should try following it.
Quienquiera que diga que eso está bien, necesita estudiar un poco de historia. - Whoever says that's ok needs to study a little bit of history.
Quienquiera que seas, si no tienes un plan no sobrevivirás ni un día en la universidad. - Whoever you are, if you don't have a plan, you will not survive a day in college.
Comoquiera que sea, ese es un argumento bastante infantil. - In any case, that is a very childish argument.
Comoquiera que sea, el estudiante debe hacer sus tareas. - Either way, the student must do his homework.
Luckily, if you are finding it hard to put the subjunctive into practice, there are fixed expressions that are commonly used with this Spanish mood that will give you a headstart. For instance: a menos que ''unless'', antes (de) que ''before'', en caso de que ''in case'', para que ''so that'', tal vez ''maybe'', among others.
A menos de que sepas cómo arreglar esta computadora, vamos a tener que llamar a un experto. - Unless you know how to fix this computer, we're going to have to call an expert.
A menos de que estés en casa, no veo cómo podrás resolver este problema. - Unless you're home, I don't see how you'll be able to solve this problem.
Limpiaré la habitación antes de que llegues. - I'll clean up the room before you get here.
Deberías hablar con tu mamá antes de que se moleste. - You should talk to your mom before she gets angry.
En caso de que no vengas, por favor envíame un mensaje de texto. - In case you don't come, please send me a text message.
Llama a tu mamá en caso de que estés enfermo. - Call your mom in case you're sick.
Hice la cena para que puedas llegar a casa a descansar. - I made dinner so that you can get home and get some rest.
Te explicaré la situación para que entiendas mi opinión. - I'll explain the situation to you so that you understand my opinion.
Quizás él sepa que hacer, yo estoy muy confundido. - Maybe he knows what to do, I am very confused.
Llama a Carlos, quizás él tenga tu libro. - Call Carlos, maybe he has your book.
Given that the subjunctive mood is used in very specific situations and with very specific elements, you will now be able to spot a subjunctive sentence from miles away. Verbs such as querer, esperar, creer, pensar, dudar are very important to learn for use in subjunctive sentences and so are the indefinite pronouns, impersonal statements, and fixed expressions you just saw. Now you can take your Spanish conversation up a notch.