Subjunctive, Indicative, and Imperative Moods in Spanish

Mood is a grammatical concept that organizes verb tenses. It refers to the different ways in which the action of a verb can be expressed. The three moods in Spanish are the indicative mood, the subjunctive mood and the imperative mood. Aside from the imperative mood, which is only conjugated in the present tense, all tenses can be conjugated differently in both the indicative and subjunctive moods. Therefore, mood has a lot of influence when conjugating verbs in Spanish and thus, is an important concept to understand.

verb moods verb moods
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Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is characterized by expressing actions or ideas that are real or concrete, such as facts, objective statements and easily perceived qualities of a person, place or thing. For example, the sentence “I eat eggs on Sundays” (Yo como huevos los domingos) is in the indicative mood as it is stating a truth or a fact. Even if the tense were to change to, let’s say, the preterite tense “I ate eggs on Sunday” (Yo comí huevos el domingo) it is still considered to be in the indicative mood as it remains a statement of fact. The indicative mood is the most frequently used out of the three and thus it is the first one to learn at the basic Spanish level.

Example Sentences for the Indicative Mood:

No vas a ir a la fiesta.

You are not going to the party.

Durante el sismo, mantuvimos la calma.

During the earthquake, we remained calm.

No ganaron.

They didn’t win.

Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is characterized by expressing actions or ideas that are hypothetical and not concrete. These can be in the form of subjective statements and opinions as well as desires, hopes and wishes. The subjunctive mood is used a lot more in Spanish than it is in English so it can sometimes be a tricky concept for native English speakers.

The following verbs are normally expressed in the subjunctive mood by making a subjunctive clause with with the word que (that) followed by a second verb conjugated in the subjunctive:

pedir que

to ask/request

demandar que

to demand

insistir que

to insist

ordenar que

to order

rezar que

to pray

preferir que

to prefer

recomendar que

to recommend

arrepentirse de que

to regret

requerir que

to require

sugerir que

to suggest

esperar que

to wish

negar que

to refuse

sorprender que

to surprise

gustar que

to like

querer que

to want

dudar que

to doubt

necesitar que

to need

sentir que

to feel

Aside from the common verbs used with the subjunctive, here are some other expressions that trigger the subjunctive mood:

No creer que

to not believe that

No es cierto que

It’s not true that

Es interesante que

It is interesting that

Es necesario que

It’s necessary that

Es posible que

It’s possible that

Es ridículo que

It’s ridiculous that

Es raro que

It’s strange that

Es terrible que

It’s terrible that

Es mejor que

It’s better that

Es bueno/malo que

It’s good/bad that

Example Sentences for the Subjunctive Mood:

Me sorprende que no haya venido a la cena de despedida.

It surprises me that he/she didn’t come to the going-away dinner.

Te niego que vayas a la fiesta.

I forbid you from going to the party.

Es importante que mantengamos la calma.

It’s important that we all remain calm.

Dudo que ganen.

I doubt that they will win.

Me gusta que me regales flores.

I like that/when you give me flowers.

Imperative

The imperative mood is characterized by making demands and giving direct orders. Only the present tense is used to express the imperative mood. Also, since demands are always made to another person there is no conjugation for the “yo” form.

Example Sentences for the Imperative Mood:

¡Tienes que ir a la cena de despedida!

You have to go to the going-away dinner!

¡No vayas a la fiesta!

Don’t go to the party!

¡Mantengan la calma!

Stay calm!

¡Ganen!

Win!

¡Regálame flores!

Give me flowers!

As a quick review, remember that the indicative mood is used to talk about actions and events that are real, while the subjunctive mood is used to talk about hypothetical situations and ideas. Lastly, the imperative mood is to give orders or demands and is only conjugated in the present tense. Now that you have a solid understanding of the various moods in Spanish you can more easily express yourself like a native speaker!