Subjunctive Indicators

You also learned to determine when the subjunctive mood is appropriate by using a list of indicators representing the various reasons behind the use of the subjunctive. Below are examples of each of the subjunctive indicators in sentences with the verb in the first clause in the preterit, the imperfect, or the conditional tense, which requires that the verb following que be in the past subjunctive mood.

Remember, the past subjunctive is used after verbs that indicate volition, desire, or an indirect command. Because it is so important to know the subjunctive indicators, the following list presents a sample sentence of each for you to review. The subjunctive indicator is in bold print for easy recognition. A variety of regular and irregular verbs will be in the subjunctive after que. The verb that is conjugated in the subjunctive mood is underlined so that you pay close attention to how verbs are conjugated in the past subjunctive.

  • Ella me aconsejaba que estudiara más.
  • She used to advise me that I should study more.
  • El padre de Marcos no aprobó que condujera el coche.
  • Marcos' father didn't approve that he drove the car.
  • Ellas te dijeron que hicieras tu tarea.
  • They told you to do your homework.
  • (They told you that you should have done your homework.)
  • Mis padres no dejaron que yo viajara a El Salvador.
  • My parents didn't permit me to travel to El Salvador.
  • Los profesores se empeñaban en que sus estudiantes los escucharan.
  • The teachers insisted that their students listen to them.
  • Yo exigí que mis colegas se reunieran conmigo inmediatamente.
  • I demanded that my colleagues meet with me immediately.
  • Me gustaba que las presentaciones fueran interesantes.
  • I liked that the presentations were interesting.
  • El jefe hacía que trabajáramos los sábados …
  • The boss would make us work on Saturdays but …
  • Un árbol impidió que ella condujera por la calle.
  • A tree impeded that she drive along the street.
  • Las revolucionarias insistieron que el presidente viniera.
  • The revolutionaries insisted that the president come.
  • El líder mandó que los soldados lucharan en la batalla.
  • The leader ordered that the soldiers fight in the battle.
  • Yoli pidió que el mozo trajera las tapas.
  • Yoli requested that the waiter bring tapas.
  • Shakira no permitía que nadie tradujera la letra de sus canciones al inglés.
  • Shakira didn't permit anyone to translate her lyrics to English.
  • Jorge prefería que Juana fuera con él al Caribe.
  • Jorge would prefer that Juana go with him to the Caribbean.
  • La ley prohibía que los ciudadanos fumaran cigarrillos.
  • The law prohibited that the citizens smoke cigarettes.
  • Yo propuse que tú y yo nos casáramos.
  • I proposed that we get married.
  • Los peregrinos rogaban para que Dios bendijera su viaje.
  • The pilgrims prayed so that God would bless their voyage.
  • La madrastra sugirió que sus hijas se probaran el zapato de cristal.
  • The stepmother suggested that her daughters try on the crystal shoe.
  • Suplicamos para que los pobres tuvieran comida.
  • We prayed that the poor would have food.
  • Ella no deseaba que yo la llamara.
  • She didn't want me to call her.
  • Celia esperaba que le dieran el premio.
  • Celia hoped that they'd give her the prize.
  • Necesitábamos que tú supieras las respuestas.
  • We needed you to know the answers.
  • Carlos no quería que su hija tocara el tambor.
  • Carlos didn't want his daughter to play the drums.

Ojalá

One exception where you will need to use the subjunctive mood with or without que is with the expression ojalá. The Arabic expression ojalá means “may Allah grant that” and is used in Spanish to express “hopefully, I wish, God grant” or “if only.” Because ojalá is impersonal, there is no subject and it is technically not conjugated. It is the most consistent subjunctive indicator in the language and should always be followed by the subjunctive mood—even if there is no que.

When the past subjunctive follows ojalá, there are two possible meanings. The first indicates hope about something that occurred in the past without the outcome known to the speaker:

  • Ojalá ganáramos el partido.
  • We wish we might win the game.
  • Ojalá que no perdieran mucho dinero en el casino.
  • If only they wouldn't lose much money in the casino.

The past subjunctive is also used after ojalá to indicate that the statement is obviously contrary to fact, or to refer to a hypothetical situation.

  • Ojalá yo fuera su jefe!
  • I wish I were his boss!
  • Ojalá que tuvieras las direcciones.
  • If only you had the directions.

Introductory clauses that show emotion

Another group of subjunctive indicators are introductory clauses that express emotion. The following examples include a subjunctive indicator in a past tense (in bold) and the verb after que in the past subjunctive (underlined).

  • Les conmovía que su hijo quisiera acompañarlos a la oficina.
  • It moved them that their son wanted to accompany them to the office.
  • ¿No te desilusionó que no hubiera Papá Noel en realidad?
  • Didn't it disappoint you that there really was no Santa Claus?
  • Le emocionaba que su novio le trajera flores de vez en cuando.
  • It thrilled her that her boyfriend brought her flowers from time to time.
  • Le encantó a ella que su ciudad favorita no hubiera cambiado.
  • It delighted her that her favorite city hadn't changed.
  • Me sorprendió que tú quisieras ese coche.
  • It surprised me that you wanted that car.
  • Me entristecía de que ella me visitara sólo para investigar su libro.
  • It made me sad that she visited me just to investigate her book.