Subjunctive Indicators

The subjunctive indicators are easier to learn if you understand the basic reasons to use the subjunctive that each list represents. The mnemonic device WEIRD may help you remember the five basic reasons for using the subjunctive:

  • Wish
  • Emotion
  • Impersonal Expressions
  • Requests
  • Doubt (of existence or of occurrence)

With practice, you will better understand what types of verbs, conjunctions, or situations are followed by the subjunctive. The following explanations that introduce each group of subjunctive indicators will help you understand why these lead to the use of the subjunctive. Again, it is preferable to understand the concept of the subjunctive, but you can memorize the list of verbs generally followed by the subjunctive until you attain that understanding. You should at least memorize the five categories for subjunctive indicators and try to recognize any verb that could be listed as an example for any one of these categories; most likely, it will indicate that you will use the subjunctive after que if one of these verbs is in front of que.

Wishes

If the point of a sentence is to express a hope, desire, or need, the subjunctive is used for the verb that is wished. When the first clause indicates that what follows is not necessarily a reality, but rather something the subject of the first clause desires or needs, the verb after que must be in the subjunctive. It does not matter whether these are basic sentences or questions, nor does it matter whether they are affirmative or negative. You must use the subjunctive after que if one of these verbs of desire is somewhere before que.

In the sample sentences below, the subjunctive indicator is boldface and the verb that is conjugated in the subjunctive mood is underlined. Pay attention to what the subjunctive conjugation looks like and what verb was used in the beginning of the sentence that required the present subjunctive conjugation after que.

  • desear = to desire, to want
    • Él no desea que yo lo llame.
    • He doesn't want me to call him.
  • esperar = to hope
    • Mi perro espera que demos un paseo.
    • My dog hopes that we take a walk.
  • necesitar = to need
    • Necesitamos que tú nos presentes a tus padres.
    • We need you to introduce us to your parents.
  • querer (e> ie) = to want
    • Carlos no quiere que su hija toque el tambor.
    • Carlos does not want his daughter to play the drums.

Long before you ever heard of the subjunctive, you learned to use verbs with an infinitive. In “two‐verb” sentences where there is no change of subject (and no que), the first verb is conjugated and the second is in the infinitive form. These verbs are often used without que, but only if the subject is the same for both verbs.

  • Yo quiero bailar.
  • I want to dance.
  • Who wants? I do. Who dances? I do.
  • Él desea comprar una computadora nueva.
  • He wants to buy a new computer.
  • Who wants? He does. Who buys? He does.
  • Esperamos ganar muchos partidos.
  • We hope to win a lot of games.
  • Who hopes? We do. Who wins? We do.
  • Todos necesitan traer sus cuadernos.
  • Everyone needs to bring his or her notebook.
  • Who needs? Everyone. Who brings? Everyone.

English sentences often use an infinitive even when there is a change of subject. For example, you cannot translate the following sentence into Spanish word for word: “ He doesn't want me to go.” It is better to think of this sentence as “He doesn't want that I go” because, in Spanish, you cannot use the infinitive when there are two different subjects in the sentence and the main verb is a subjunctive indicator.

One common expression used to express a wish is somewhat unusual because it is impersonal. The expression ojalá is one exception in which you use the subjunctive mood without que. An Arabic expression that means “may Allah grant that,” ojalá is used in Spanish to mean “hopefully” or “if only.” Because it is impersonal, there is no subject and it is technically not conjugated. It is always written in the same form and is always followed by the subjunctive mood even if there is no que.

Examples:

  • Ojalá que traigas las direcciones.
  • Hopefully, you will bring the address.
  • Ojalá veamos a su novio esta noche.
  • Hopefully, we will see your boyfriend tonight.
  • Ojalá que no pierda su pasaporte.
  • Hopefully, he will not lose his passport.

Emotion

When the first clause expresses an emotion about what is happening in the second clause, the verb in the second clause (after que) is in the subjunctive mood. Therefore, verbs that express emotion are subjunctive indicators. Many verbs of emotion are very similar to the verb gustar.

The Spanish versions of “it angers me” or “it disappoints him” use an impersonal sentence structure, which means the subject of the sentence is “it.” For this reason, the verb stays in the él form. An indirect object, such as le, is used to reflect the individual who is feeling the emotion. The sample sentences below demonstrate how indirect objects other than le are used with these verbs. Notice that when the sentence is negative, the no precedes the indirect object and the verb following que is still in the subjunctive.

  • (le) conmueve que = it moves (him) that
    • Les conmueve que su abuela se mude hoy.
    • It moves them that their grandmother is moving today.
  • (le) desilusiona que = it disappoints (him) that
    • No me desilusiona que tu equipo siempre pierda.
    • It does not disappoint me that your team always loses.
  • (le) emociona que = it thrills (him) that
    • Les emociona que su músico favorito toque.
    • It thrills them that their favorite musician is performing.
  • (le) encanta que = it delights (him) that
    • Nos encanta que ustedes nos visiten.
    • It delights us that you guys visit us.
  • (le) enfada que = it angers (him) that
    • ¿Le enfada a Ud. que los políticos no le escuchen?
    • Does it anger you that the politicians do not listen to you?
  • (le) enoja que = it angers (him) that
    • Me enoja que los avaros tengan todo el dinero.
    • It angers me that the greedy ones have all the money.
  • (le) entristece que = it saddens (him) that
    • Le entristece que los pobres vivan en las calles.
    • It saddens her that the poor live in the streets.
  • (le) gusta que = it pleases (him) that
    • No me gusta que tu siempre olvides mi cumpleaños.
    • It does not please me that you always forget my birthday.
  • (le) hace feliz que = it makes (him) happy that
    • ¿Les hace felices que yo pinte su casa?
    • Does it make them happy that I am painting their house?
  • (le) hace (emoción) que = it makes (him) (emotion) that
    • Nos hace feliz que no tengas ningún problema.
    • It makes us happy that you do not have any problem.
  • (le) irrita que = it irritates (him) that
    • Les irrita que sepas todo.
    • It irritates them that you know everything.
  • (le) molesta que = it bothers (him) that
    • A Rafael no le molesta que yo hable con su madre.
    • It does not bother Rafael that I speak with his mom.
  • (le) pone contento que = it makes (him) content that
    • Las pone contentas que él les buenos consejos.
    • It makes them content that he give them good advice.
  • (le) pone (emoción) que = it makes (him) (emotion) that
    • Te pone triste que yo no pueda asistir a tu presentación.
    • It makes you sad that I cannot attend your presentation.
  • (le) sorprende que = it surprises (him) that
    • No me sorprende que tú quieras casarte con ella
    • It does not surprise me that you want to marry her.

Listed below are more subjunctive indicators that express emotion. Unlike the verbs above, these verbs must be conjugated in order to agree with the subject of the first clause. Notice that the verb following que must be in the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive indicator is bold and the verb that is conjugated in the subjunctive mood is underlined.

If the verb has se attached to the infinitive, it is reflexive. You may be able to remember reflexive pronouns after looking at the sample sentences.

  • alegrarse de que = to be happy that
    • Me alegro de que Raquel utilice el idioma extranjero.
    • I am happy that Raquel uses the foreign language.
  • enorgullecerse de que = to be proud that
    • No se enorgullecen de que su hijo tenga problemas con la ley.
    • They are not proud that their son has problems with the law.
  • estar encantado de que = to be delighted that
    • Ellas están encantadas de que les regalemos una televisión.
    • They are delighted that we are giving them a TV.
  • lamentar que = to regret that
    • Toni lamenta que no yo esquíe cada día.
    • Toni regrets that I do not ski every day.
  • sentir (e> ie) que = to regret that
    • Constanza y Pilar sienten que tu libro esté roto.
    • Constanza and Pilar regret that your book is ripped.
  • temer que = to fear that
    • ¿Temes que tu hijo crea en monstruos?
    • Are you afraid that your son believes in monsters?
  • tener miedo de que = to be afraid that
    • Ellos no tienen miedo de que las corporaciones los roben.
    • They are not afraid that the corporations will rob them.

Impersonal expressions

There are many expressions in Spanish that are considered impersonal because they do not have a specific person as the subject. They are always conjugated in the él form because the subject is “it.” These expressions often indicate some sort of opinion about the clause that follows que. Because the focus of the sentence is on the opinion being expressed rather than on the action of the verb that comes after que, that verb is in the subjunctive.

Notice in the examples that follow that the verb is already conjugated in the él form. Most of the expressions include es + adjective + que. With a few exceptions (which are explained later), any impersonal expression constructed using es + adjective + que will be followed by a verb in the subjunctive. It does not matter whether these expressions are affirmative or negative, sentences or questions.

In the sample sentences, the subjunctive indicator is bold and the verb that is conjugated in the subjunctive mood is underlined.

  • conviene que = it is advisable that
    • No conviene que visites sin llamar.
    • It is not advisable that you visit without calling.
  • más vale que = it is better that
    • Más vale que tus amigos te protejan.
    • It is better that your friends protect you.
  • puede ser que = it may be that
    • Puede ser que Rebeca no siga asistiendo a esa escuela.
    • It may be that Rebeca will not continue attending that school.
  • es bueno que = it is good that
    • No es bueno que Daniel gima cuando tiene tarea.
    • It is not good that Daniel whines when he has homework.
  • es difícil que = it is unlikely that
    • Es difícil que devuelva tu periódico.
    • It is unlikely that he will return your magazine.
  • es dudoso que = it is doubtful that
    • Es dudoso que almorcemos hoy.
    • It is doubtful that we will eat lunch today.
  • es fácil que = it is likely that
    • Es fácil que ellos castiguen al ladrón.
    • It is likely that they will punish the thief.
  • es fantástico que = it is fantastic that
    • Es fantástico que juegues jai alai.
    • It is fantastic that you play jai alai.
  • es hora de que = it is time that
    • ¿Es hora de que salgamos para el aeropuerto?
    • Is it time that we leave for the airport?
  • es importante que = it is important that
    • Es importante que abrace a sus hijos .
    • It is important that you hug your children.
  • es imposible que = it is impossible that
    • Es imposible que la televisión no influya en los niños.
    • It is impossible that television does not influence children. Note: The double negation in Spanish “no and impossible” does not produce a change of the meaning to “possible,” as in English.
  • es improbable que = it is unlikely that
    • Es improbable que Susana se ahogue porque ella nada bien.
    • It is unlikely that Susan will drown because she swims well.
  • es increíble que = it is incredible that
    • Es increíble que durmamos tantas horas cada noche.
    • It is incredible that we sleep so many hours each night.
  • es (una) lástima que = it is a shame that
    • Es una lástima que Belinda se vista tan mal .
    • It is a shame that Belinda dresses so badly.
  • es malo que = it is bad that
    • Es malo que contaminemos la naturaleza.
    • It is bad that we pollute nature.
  • es mejor que = it is better that
    • Es mejor que escojas algo muy cómodo.
    • It is better that you choose something very comfortable.
  • es necesario que = it is necessary that
    • No es necesario que me convenzan.
    • It is not necessary that they convince me.
  • es posible que = it is possible that
    • Es posible que yo tenga el periódico en casa.
    • It is possible that I have the newspaper at home.
  • es preciso que = it is necessary that
    • Es preciso que Uds. lleguen a tiempo.
    • It is necessary that you arrive on time.
  • es preferible que = it is preferable that
    • Es preferible que Manuela lo explique.
    • It is preferable that Manuela explain it.
  • es ridículo que = it is ridiculous that
    • Es ridículo que ella no sepa la dirección.
    • It is ridiculous that she does not know the address.
  • es terrible que = it is terrible that
    • Es terrible que los niños no se comuniquen con sus padres.
    • It is terrible that kids do not communicate with their parents.
  • es triste que = it is sad that
    • Es triste que la casa no valga más.
    • It is sad that the house is not worth more.

An impersonal expression does not need to express doubt in order to be followed by the subjunctive, but the few impersonal expressions that completely eliminate doubt (affirmative expressions of certainty) are followed by the indicative. Note: Verbs that express certainty are subjunctive indicators only when used negatively. Look carefully at the following sample sentences for each expression in this category. These affirmative expressions of certainty are not subjunctive indicators and no verb is conjugated in the subjunctive mood, so there is nothing bold or underlined in the sample sentences.

  • es claro que = it is clear that
    • Es claro que el jugador le miente a su novia.
    • It is clear that the player lies to his girlfriend.
  • es cierto que = it is certain that
    • Es cierto que no vivimos bastante.
    • It is certain that we do not live enough.
  • es evidente que = it is evident that
    • Es evidente que la economía cambia.
    • It is evident that the economy changes.
  • es que = it is that
    • Es que voy a perder mi vuelo si no me apresuro.
    • It is that I will miss my flight if I do not hurry.
  • es verdad que = it is true that
    • Es verdad que tú mereces buenas notas.
    • It is true that you deserve good grades.

There is one expression that must be negative in order to indicate certainty and, therefore, requires you to use the indicative mood after que. In its affirmative form, it is listed with the subjunctive indicators.

  • no es dudoso que = it is not doubtful that
    • No es dudoso que Diana es la verdadera líder.
    • It is not doubtful Diana is the real leader.

Requests

The first group of subjunctive indicators that follow includes verbs that indicate some type of request or indirect command. The person who is the subject of the first clause requests that the subject of the second clause do something or not do something.

Because the action of the verb being requested may never occur, the verb is in the subjunctive mood. It makes no difference whether the sentences are affirmative or negative for this group of indicators. The verbs implying an indirect request are subjunctive indicators because they indicate that the verb in the clause that follows que must be in the subjunctive. The subjunctive indicator itself is used in the beginning of the sentence, so it is not conjugated in the subjunctive mood. It indicates that the verb in the second clause (after que) be conjugated in the subjunctive mood.

In the sample sentences, the subjunctive indicator is bold and the verb that is conjugated in the subjunctive mood is underlined. Pay attention to what the subjunctive conjugation looks like and the verb that was used in the beginning of the sentence that required the use of the present subjunctive after que.

  • aconsejar = to advise, to warn
    • Ellos me aconsejan que yo trabaje más.
    • They advise me that I (should) work more.
  • aprobar (o> ue) = to approve
    • Elena aprueba que mi familia tenga la fiesta.
    • Elena approves that my family have the party.
  • decirle (e> i) = to tell
    • Estela te dice que hagas tu tarea.
    • Estela tells you to do your homework.
  • dejar = to let, to allow
    • Mi padre no deja que yo conduzca solo.
    • My father does not permit that I drive alone.
  • empeñarse en = to insist
    • Los maestros se empeñan en que sus estudiantes los oigan.
    • The teachers insist that their students listen to them.
  • exigir = to demand
    • Yolanda exije que sus niños hagan sus quehaceres.
    • Yolanda demands that her children do their chores.
  • gustar = to please
    • ¿Te gusta que te llame de vez en cuando?
    • Do you like that I call you occasionally?
  • hacer = to make
    • Emilio hace que nosotras vengamos a verlo.
    • Emilio makes us come to see him.
  • impedir (e> i) = to prevent, to impede
    • Sus problemas impiden que Marco tenga éxito.
    • His problems prevent Mark from being successful.
  • insistir en = to insist
    • El abogado insiste en que ellos me ayuden.
    • The lawyer insists that they help me.
  • mandar = to order, to demand
    • El jefe manda que los empleados lleguen a tiempo .
    • The boss demands that the employees arrive on time.
  • pedir (e> i) = to request
    • Silvia pide que el camarero traiga un vaso de agua.
    • Silvia requests that the waiter bring a glass of water.
  • permitir = to permit
    • El gerente no permite que los empleados lleguen tarde.
    • The manager does not permit that the employees arrive late.
  • preferir = to prefer
    • La esposa prefiere que el esposo cocine la cena.
    • The wife prefers that the husband cook dinner.
  • prohibir = to prohibit
    • La ley no prohibe que fumen cigarrillos.
    • The law does not prohibit that they smoke cigarettes.
  • proponer = to propose
    • Berto propone que Ernesto trabaje con él.
    • Berto proposes that Ernesto work with him.
  • rezar = to pray
    • Lupe reza para que su padre se cuide .
    • Lupe prays that her father will be careful.
  • sugerir (e> ie) = to suggest
    • El doctor sugiere que yo no coma tantos dulces.
    • The doctor suggests that I do not eat so many sweets.
  • suplicar = to beg
    • Los mendigos suplican que alguien les dinero.
    • The mendicants beg that someone give them money.

For the above verbs to be subjunctive indicators, they must be followed by que. As you can see in the examples below, you use the infinitive after any of the above verbs if the sentence does not have que.

Examples:

  • Me gusta estudiar las ciencias sociales.
  • It pleases me to study the social sciences.
  • Prefieren comer verduras.
  • They prefer to eat vegetables.

Doubt

Although doubt is not the only reason for using the subjunctive after que, the elimination of doubt requires the use of the indicative mood after que. Therefore, the following verbs that express doubt are subjunctive indicators only if used affirmatively.

  • dudar = to doubt
    • Sus padres dudan que ella ponga la mesa.
    • Her parents doubt that she sets the table.
  • negar (e> ie) = to deny
    • Leonora niega que Ana aborrezca sus clases .
    • Leonora denies that Ana hates her classes.

When used negatively, these verbs eliminate doubt, and the verb after que must be in the indicative mood. Keep an eye out for negative words such as nunca or nadie. When used before the noun, these words make a sentence negative without using the word no.

  • Maribel no duda que yo me opongo a su plan.
  • Maribel does not doubt that I oppose her plan.
  • Nadie niega que sus planes nunca funcionan.
  • Nobody denies that her plans never work.

Remember, verbs that express certainty are subjunctive indicators only when used negatively. It is important to realize a cultural difference between English and Spanish speakers. When a Spanish speaker states that she thinks or believes something is true, she considers this a certainty and uses the indicative mood after que. An English speaker uses the verbs “to think” and “to believe” only when he does not know for certain. This basic difference is why the verbs creer and pensar are included in the list of verbs that express certainty and which must be negative in order to be subjunctive indicators.

In the sample sentences below, the negative word is bold because it is part of the subjunctive indicator and the verb that is conjugated in the subjunctive mood is underlined.

  • no creer que = not to believe that
    • Nunca creen que ella se despierte a las cinco.
    • They never believe that she wakes up at five.
  • no decir que = not to say that
    • Loli no dice que su hermano tenga que venir con nosotras.
    • Loli is not saying that her brother has to come with us.
  • no pensar que = not to think that
    • José no piensa que vaya a llover.
    • José does not think that it is going to rain.
  • no saber que = not to know that
    • Yo no sé que Uds. lleguen a tiempo.
    • I do not know that you will arrive on time.

Notice in the following sample sentences that these verbs are followed by the indicative mood when used affirmatively.

  • Crees que la vida es una fiesta.
  • You believe that life is a party.
  • Me dicen que esta pulsera cuesta dos mil euros.
  • They tell me that this bracelet costs two thousand euros.
  • A veces pienso que Soledad no quiere tener amigos.
  • Sometimes I think that Soledad does not want any friends.
  • Sabemos que nuestro perro nos entiende.
  • We know that our dog understands us.

Another type of doubt that causes the subjunctive to be used is when there is some doubt about the existence of the second clause's subject. How can the verb of the second clause occur if the subject doing the verb may not even exist? This type of subjunctive situation requires some thought as well as cultural understanding because the Spanish language reflects a cultural tendency to “believe it when I see it.” An English speaker is probably certain that she can find what she wants when she states, “I'm looking for a hotel that has a view of the sea.” To the Spanish speaker, the fact that the sentence begins with “I'm looking for” indicates that what follows technically may not exist, or at least that the speaker is unsure as to which hotel he will find.

This type of sentence always uses the conjunction que, and the subject after que is always what is being looked for or what is needed in the first clause. When something mentioned in the first clause is used as the subject of the second clause, it is called an antecedent. When the existence of the antecedent is unknown, the subjunctive is used. You may have heard the term “unknown antecedent.” This refers to a sentence in which there is no certainty of the existence of the person(s) or things(s) that would be the subject of the clause after que.

Whether or not a verb is a subjunctive indicator because it establishes some doubt about the existence of the subject of the clause after que depends on whether the first clause is affirmative or negative, and on whether it is a sentence or a question. For this reason, there are several examples for each verb in the sections that follow. Pay attention to the bold and underlined verbs in the examples. Think about how the existence of the subject of the second clause depends on whether it is a sentence or a question, and also on whether it is affirmative or negative; look to see if the verb is in the subjunctive (that is, underlined) for each example.

One of the most common verbs of this type is the word hay (haber). Because hay does not get conjugated, it is considered idiomatic and is an important expression to learn. Hay is used to indicate the existence of people or things both singular and plural.

  • hay (followed by something singular) = there is
    • Hay un abogado que habla español aquí.
    • There is a lawyer that speaks Spanish here.
  • hay (followed by something plural) = there are
    • Hay muchos abogados que hablan español aquí.
    • There are many lawyers that speak Spanish here.

Below, when hay is used in a question, it is bold because it questions the existence of what follows.

  • ¿hay? = is there?
  • ¿Hay un abogado que hable español aquí?
  • ¿hay? = are there?
  • ¿Hay muchos abogados que hablen español aquí?

Hopefully, you noticed that the verb hablar (after que) is in the subjunctive when hay is used as a question, but is in the indicative when hay is used in an affirmative statement. What happens to the verb that follows que if hay is used in a negative statement? While considering the examples, notice the necessary double negative in Spanish.

  • no hay = there is not
  • No hay ningún abogado que hable español aquí.

Hay in its negative form creates a sentence in which the subject of the second clause does not exist; therefore, the verb that goes with the nonexistent subject should be in the subjunctive mood. The same thing is true for the following verbs.

  • Tener (to have)
    • ¿Tienes un libro que enseñe francés?
    • Do you have a book that teaches French?
    • No tengo ningún diccionario que incluya esa palabra.
    • I do not have any dictionary that includes that word.

Tener used negatively or as a question in the first clause requires the subjunctive mood in the clause that follows que. Notice in the example below that, when tener is used affirmatively in the first clause, it requires the indicative mood in the second clause. The same applies to conocer.

  • Tiene un novio que llama cada noche.
  • She has a boyfriend that calls every night.
  • Conocer (to know, to be acquainted with)
    • ¿Conoces a un médico que les dulces a los niños?
    • Do you know a doctor that gives sweets to kids?
    • No conozco a nadie que viva en una cueva.
    • I do not know anyone that lives in a cave.
    • Conoce a un hombre simpático que vive en Guadix.
    • He knows a nice man that lives in Guadix.

A verb in the first clause that expresses a need, or the search for something or someone, requires the subjunctive after que even when the sentence is affirmative. This is because Spanish speakers never assume that a thing or person exists. If a definite article follows the verb, the verb is no longer a subjunctive indicator because it refers to a very specific, known entity. The next few examples make this more clear.

  • Buscar (to look for)
    • Ella busca una secretaria que sepa escribir a máquina.
    • She is looking for a secretary that knows how to type.
    • Yo busco a la secretaria que escribió a máquina ese ensayo.
    • I am looking for the secretary that typed that essay.
  • Necesitar (to need)
    • Necesito un disco compacto que tenga canciones para bailar.
    • I need a CD that has dance songs.
    • Necesito el disco compacto que tiene mi canción favorita.
    • I need the CD that has my favorite song.
  • Querer (to want)
    • Queremos una boda que impresione a todos nuestros amigos.
    • We want a wedding that impresses all our friends.
    • Miguel quiere a la profesora que siempre da buenas notas.
    • Miguel wants the teacher that always gives good grades.
  • Desear (to want)
    • Mercedes desea un puesto que ofrezca muchas oportunidades.
    • Mercedes wants a job that offers many opportunities.
    • Ana desea el puesto que acaba de ver en el periódico.
    • Ana wants the job that she just saw in the newspaper.

There is a second kind of doubt to consider as a subjunctive indicator. When there is doubt as to whether or not the action of the verb in the second clause will take place, that verb is in the subjunctive. This type of sentence has a different kind of subjunctive indicator, a conjunction. A conjunction is a word or phrase that joins two clauses together. So far, all of the subjunctive indicators you have seen have been a verb or expression in the first clause followed by the conjunction que. There are other conjunctions however, that will be discussed later, that join clauses in a way that indicates the need for the subjunctive in the second clause.

When the conjunction that joins two clauses indicates that the action of the verb in the second clause has not yet occurred and, therefore, may never occur, the verb after the conjunction is in the subjunctive. Luckily, these conjunctions all include the word que, so you can still look for the verb after que to conjugate in the subjunctive. When the word que is missing from these conjunctions, they become prepositions and are followed by an infinitive rather than a subjunctive conjugation. The verb in the first clause does not have to be any of the above listed subjunctive indicators. Always use the subjunctive for the verb that follows any of the conjunctions below:

  • a menos que = unless
    • Vamos al Caribe este otoño a menos que un huracán destruya la playa.
    • We are going to the Caribbean this fall unless a hurricane destroys the beach.
  • a fin (de) que = so that
    • Los padres castigan a sus hijos a fin de que obedezcan las reglas.
    • Parents punish their kids so that they obey the rules.
  • antes (de) que = before
    • Tienes que practicar mucho antes de que ganes el campeonato.
    • You have to practice a lot before you win the championship.
  • para que = so that
    • Ella quiere adelgazar para que su novio la vea bonita.
    • She wants to lose weight so that her boyfriend sees her pretty.
  • por más que = no matter how much that
    • Yo no te diré por más que pidas mi número.
    • I will not tell you no matter how much you request my number.
  • sin que = without (that)
    • No salimos sin que hagamos nuestros quehaceres .
    • We do not leave without doing our chores.
  • en caso de que = in case that
    • Llevo mi móbil en caso de que haya una emergencia .
    • I carry my cellphone in case there is an emergency.
  • con tal que = provided that
    • Lola puede entrar con tal que finja ser miembro .
    • Lola can enter provided that she pretend to be a member.

There are also some conjunctions that will always be followed by the indicative because their meaning indicates a certainty of the occurrence of the verb that follows. Conjugate the verb in the indicative mood if it follows one of the conjunctions listed below.

No word is in bold below because these conjunctions are always followed by the indicative. No verb is underlined because there is no verb in the subjunctive in the sample sentences.

  • ahora que = now that
    • El viento no es tan fuerte ahora que la ventana está cerrada.
    • The wind is not as strong now that the window is closed.
  • desde que = since (a time when something happened)
    • Las torres han sido una maravilla desde que las construyeron.
    • The towers have been a marvel since they built them.
  • porque = because
    • El pollo cruza la calle porque quiere llegar al otro lado.
    • The chicken crosses the street because he wants to arrive at the other side.
  • puesto que = since (because)
    • Yo siempre compro los regalos puesto que nunca olvido un cumpleaños.
    • I always buy the gifts since I never forget a birthday.
  • ya que = now that
    • Tú puedes visitarme más a menudo ya que vives más cerca.
    • You can visit me more often now that you live more close by.

Conjunctions that determine mood by the tense of the first clause

Conjunctions are subjunctive indicators when they indicate that the action of the clause that follows has not yet occurred. There are a few conjunctions that require the indicative if the verb after que is in a past tense because the action of the verb has already happened. If, however, the action of the verb after que has not yet occurred, this verb is in the present subjunctive.

They are only subjunctive indicators, however, if the verb in the first clause is in the present tense, is in the future tense, or is a command. There are two examples for each conjunction. Look carefully at the bold words and the underlined verbs to determine when the conjunction is a subjunctive indicator, and consider how the tense of the first verb influences whether or not the second verb has occurred and whether or not the subjunctive is used. Some of the following conjunctions do not include the word que, but they still are conjunctions.

  • después de que = after
    • El concierto empezará después de que el guitarrista llegue .
    • The concert will begin after the guitarist arrives.
    • El concierto empezó después de que el guitarrista llegó.
    • The concert began after the guitarist arrived.
  • hasta que = until
    • No contaron los pollitos hasta que nacieron .
    • They did not count the chicks until they were born (hatched).
    • No comieron los pollos hasta que los cocinaron bien.
    • They did not eat the chickens until they cooked them well.
  • luego que = as soon as
    • Tú tendrás tu coche luego que yo reciba tu dinero.
    • You will have your car as soon as I receive your money.
    • Tú obtuviste tu coche luego que recibí tu dinero.
    • You got your car as soon as I received your money.
  • cuando = when
    • Llámame cuando llegues a casa.
    • Call me when you arrive at home.
    • Tú no me llamaste cuando llegaste a casa.
    • You did not call me when you arrived home.
  • en cuanto = as soon as
    • Jerónimo comprará un coche en cuanto se gradúe.
    • Jeronimo will buy a car as soon as he graduates.
    • Jerónimo compró un coche en cuanto se graduó.
    • Jeronimo bought a car as soon as he graduated.
  • tan pronto como = as soon as
    • Comeremos tan pronto como traiga la comida.
    • We will eat as soon as he brings the food.
    • Comimos tan pronto como trajo la comida.
    • We ate as soon as he brought the food.

The most important thing about the subjunctive mood is to think constantly about the reasons behind the indicators so that you do not have to try to memorize so much. It is better to understand each of the subjunctive situations and the reasons the subjunctive is used. You will never memorize all of the verbs and phrases that could be subjunctive indicators, but you can recognize whether a new verb or expression would fit into one of the categories that represent the reasons for using the subjunctive.