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Spanish Verb Tenses Explained: Part 2

Welcome to the second part of this lesson where we touch on all the different Spanish verb tenses! So... how many tenses in Spanish did we say there were? Sixteen! In the first part, we covered the ten "official" tenses of the indicative mood, which deals more with concrete facts, in addition to some "bonus" (non-official) tenses. Now, we'll move on to the other two Spanish moods: the subjunctive, where we will cover tenses eleven through sixteen of the Spanish verb paradigm, and the imperative. If you didn't already, we definitely recommend checking out Part 1 of this lesson. 

 

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The Subjunctive Tenses

While the indicative mood deals with facts, the subjunctive mood in Spanish, in a nutshell, deals with more abstract notions like wishes, desires, emotions, opinions, and more, which require a whole different set of tenses in Spanish. Although it would be impossible to delve too deeply into the multipronged usage of the subjunctive Spanish mood, we will try to illustrate several cases in which you might come across it. Let's get started!

 

11. Present Subjunctive (Presente del subjuntivo)

The present subjunctive is the subjunctive equivalent of the simple present tense. Let's take a look at an example from the Yabla Spanish library: 

 

Si queremos que una persona no nos hable de usted, tenemos que pedir a la persona que nos tutee. 

If we want a person to not talk to us in an formal way, we have to ask the person to use "tú" with us.

Captions 24-25, Karla e Isabel Tú y Usted

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Note that the reason the subjunctive form is employed here (we can tell it is subjunctive due to its conjugation, hable, which differs from its indicative form, habla) is because the sentence conveys that we want (queremos) for someone not to talk to us in a particular way, which doesn't mean that that person will actually respect our desire. Let's take a look at one more example: 

 

Mejor hablemos de ella. 

It's better we talk about her.

Caption 17, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 1

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Here, the word mejor (better) tips us off that the subjunctive form (hablemos instead of hablamos) is in order due to the expression of someone's opinion about what should happen, which doesn't necessarily mean that it will. 

 

12. Imperfect Subjunctive (Imperfecto de subjuntivo)

The imperfect subjunctive is the past equivalent of the present subjunctive. We see in the following example that the verb hablar has been conjugated in the imperfect subjunctive (habláramos) instead of in the indicative (hablábamos) due to the expression of desire, once again with the verb querer:

 

No, no te dije que quería hablar con vos, quería que habláramos los dos. 

No, I didn't tell you that I wanted to talk to you; I wanted for us to talk, the two [of us].

Caption 46, Muñeca Brava 43 La reunión - Part 6

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Another very common use of the imperfect subjunctive is to talk about hypothetical situations. In this case, the imperfect subjunctive is often incorporated into a "si (if) clause" in conjunction with the conditional tense to communicate that "if" something were the case, then something else "would" happen, as in the following clip:

 
 

Eh... Si... ¿hablaríamos?... -Hablara. Hablara ruso, me... vi'... ¿vivía?... Viviría. -Viviría en Rusia. 

Um... "Si... ¿hablaríamos" [If... we would speak]? -"Hablara" [I spoke]. "Hablara ruso [I spoke Russian], me... vi'... ¿vivía" [I... I'd li'... I used to live]? "Viviría" [I'd live]. -"Viviría en Rusia" [I'd live in Russia].

Captions 22-25, Clase Aula Azul La segunda condicional - Part 7

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The hypothetical situation the teacher is going for here is: Si hablara rusoviviría en Rusia (If I spoke Russian, I'd live in Russia). To learn more about this type of construction, we highly recommend the entire series of which this video is a part. 

 

13. Future Subjunctive (Futuro (simple) de subjuntivo)

We definitely couldn't come up with any examples of the future subjunctive tense in our Yabla Spanish library because this tense is all but obsolete and is almost never even taught in modern Spanish. For that reason, you may not recognize it due to its different and little-seen conjugations, although you may occasionally come across it in legal documents or literature. We came up with this example:

 

El que hablare fuerte se echará de lo biblioteca. 

Whoever talks loudly will be thrown out of the library. 

 

The future subjunctive could conceivably be used here because the sentence refers to "whoever," rather than known individuals, as well as alluding to a possible future event. However, in modern Spanish, this very same idea would be conveyed with the present subjunctive:

 

El que hable fuerte se echará de lo biblioteca. 

Whoever talks loudly will be thrown out of the library. 

 

14. Present Perfect Subjunctive (Pretérito perfecto de subjuntivo)

The present perfect subjunctive is the equivalent of the present perfect indicative in situations that require the subjunctive, and the verb haber is thus conjugated in its subjunctive form. That said, we'll take this opportunity to mention another case that requires subjunctive: when expressing that something will happen "when" something else happens that hasn't yet, as in the following example:

 

Cuando se hayan hablado, se van a entender mejor.

When they've talked to each other, they are going to understand each other better. 

 

And, here's an additional example of the present perfect subjunctive from our Spanish video library with different verbs:

 

Espero que os haya gustado este vídeo sobre esta maravillosa planta y hayáis aprendido algo nuevo. 

I hope you've liked this video about this wonderful plant and have learned something new.

Captions 80-81, Fermín La plumeria - Part 1

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15. Pluperfect Subjunctive (Pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo)

The pluperfect subjunctive is the subjunctive equivalent of the pluperfect tense and is also used to talk about hypothetical situations. It is formed with the pluperfect form of haber plus the participle, and, like the imperfect subjunctive, it is often used in conjunction with the conditional or conditional perfect to describe what "would have" happened if something else "had been" done. Let's see an example:

 

Si yo hubiera hablado con mi jefe antes, habría evitado cualquier malentendido. 

If I had spoken with my boss previously, I would have avoided any misunderstanding.

 

Let's look an additional example of the pluperfect subjunctive tense, which does not include the conditional:

 

Es como si nunca hubiéramos hablado

It's as if we had never talked.

Caption 28, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 8 - Part 6

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The Spanish phrase como si (as if) quite often precedes verbs in the pluperfect subjunctive tense. 

 

16. Future Perfect Subjunctive (Futuro compuesto de subjuntivo)

Like the future subjunctive, the future perfect subjunctive is rarely encountered and might only be employed in literary or legal contexts to talk about what will happen in the future if a hypothetical situation "has not" yet occurred. It involves the future subjunctive form of the verb haber plus the participle, as follows:

 

Si el demandante todavía no hubiere hablado ante el tribunal para la fecha especificada, se desestimará su caso. 

If the plaintiff still hasn't spoken before the court by the specified date, his case will be dismissed. 

 

However, the present perfect subjunctive would take the place of the future perfect subjunctive in order to say this today:

 

Si el demandante todavía no haya hablado ante el tribunal para la fecha especificada, se desestimará su caso. 

If the plaintiff still hasn't spoken before the court by the specified date, his case will be dismissed. 

 

Since different verb conjugations are rarely required in English to talk about emotions, desires, or hypotheticals, the subjunctive mood can initially feel quite confusing for English speakers, and we hope that this lesson has this shed some light on some of the possible subjunctive scenarios in Spanish. For more information about the subjunctive in Spanish, the following link with take you to several additional lessons on different aspects of this topic. 

 

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The Imperative "Tenses"

Let's conclude our rundown of all Spanish tenses by talking about the "bonus" tenses in the imperative mood (modo imperativo), which are not included in the official classification of the different tenses in Spanish. Also called commands, these Spanish verb tenses are those that tell someone to do something, and they fall into several categories:

 

1. Commands with  (informal "you") :

 

Habla con la gente de laboratorio.

Talk to the people from the lab.

Caption 36, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 11

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2. Negative commands with :

 

A ver. Sebas, mi amor, no le hables así a tu papá.

Let's see. Sebas, my love, don't talk to your dad like that.

Caption 30, La Familia Cheveroni Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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3. Commands with vos (informal "you" in certain regions):

 

por favor hablá con Andrea; necesito encontrar a mi nieto. 

please talk to Andrea; I need to find my grandson.

Caption 59, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 9

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4. (Negative or positive) commands with usted (formal "you"):

 

Hable más despacio.

"Hable más despacio" [Speak more slowly].

Caption 40, Carlos explica El modo imperativo 2: Irregulares, Usted + plurales

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5. (Negative or positive) commands with ustedes (plural "you"):

 

Pues no me hablen de costumbre porque luego en vez de ganar, pierdo.

Well don't talk to me about habits because then instead of earning, I lose.

Caption 7, La Banda Chilanguense El habla de México - Part 3

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6. Commands with vosotros/as (informal plural "you"):

 

Con vosotros o vosotras: Hablad más despacio.

With "vosotros" or "vosotras" ["you" plural informal masculine/feminine]: "Hablad más despacio" [Talk more slowly].

Caption 25, Carlos explica El modo imperativo 1: Tú + vos

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7. Negative commands with vosotros/as:

 

No nos habléis de esa forma.

Don't speak to us in that way. 

 

8. (Negative or positive) commands with nosotros/as (we): 

 

Hablemos de otra palabra.

Let's talk about another word.

Caption 19, Carlos comenta Confidencial - Jerga típica colombiana

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While we won't get into the norms for conjugating all of these types of commands with -ar, -er, and -ir verbs, we recommend Yabla's four-part video series entitled El modo imperativo (The Imperative Mode), beginning here, which explores this topic. 

 

And that wraps up our lesson on all of the verb tenses in Spanish. We hope you've enjoyed it (and learned a lot)! And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

 

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Si fuera

The keys to picking up a language quickly are constant exposure and practice. But practice is not always easy to obtain, either because you lack the opportunity or, more often, because you lack the confidence to engage in a conversation. So you lack learning because you lack practice, and you lack practice because you lack learning. How frustrating!

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But there are always ways around this problem. One of them involves memorizing common phrases to be prepared for the next time you get the chance to engage in a conversation. For example, you can memorize entire phrases by topic; phrases to introduce yourself, to ask for directions, to order food, etc. Or you could memorize smaller, more specialized chunks of speech and use them as building blocks to create more complex ideas. For example, phrases like quiero que... (I want that), or no sé si (I don't know if). On this lesson we will focus on exploring one of these phrases: si fuera

The phrase si fuera actually involves mastering an advanced skill in Spanish: the use of the verb ser (to be) in the subjunctive mood. But instead of learning rules and conjugation tables, you can memorize it as it is, and learn how speakers use it in everyday speech to build your own sentences.

Si fuera is usually combined with the preposition como (as) and followed by a noun phrase:

 

Así como si fuera una pinza.

Like this as if it were a clamp.

Caption 22, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 17

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Since fuera is used for both the first and third person singular, you can use the same expression to talk about yourself. You can add the pronoun yo (I) between si and fuera, or not:

¡Si fuera tu jefe te despediría! 
If I were your boss, I'd have you fired! 

Here's an example from our catalog:
 

Yo quiero amarte como si fuera tu único dueño.

I want to love you as if I were your only master.

Caption 63, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 3

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Look at this useful example that combines si fuera with a basic simple sentence like esto es(this is):
 

Esto es como si fuera el rastro de los móviles o el rastro de tu vida.

This is as if it were a cell phone trail or your life's trail.

Caption 31, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4

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Si fuera can also be followed by a pronoun, it's used a lot in conditional sentences:
 

Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él.

Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.

Caption 24, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

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And si fuera can also be followed by an adjective instead of a noun:

Si [yo] fuera rico me respetarías un poco - If I were rich you would respect me a little.
Si mi jefa fuera injusta conmigo yo renunciaría a mi trabajo - If my boss were unfair to me I would quit my job.

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At this point you could also learn the expression como si fuera poco:

Y como si fuera poco, todo lo que hacen...

And, as if that weren't enough, everything that they do...

Caption 30, Salvando el planeta Palabra Llegada - Part 8

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Ser vs. Estar - Subjunctive Sea and Esté

Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on some examples using the subjunctive to express wishes, or to refer to hypothetical situations. The present subjunctive for the first person singular yo (I) is esté for the verb estar and sea for the verb ser. Here're some examples of first person singular sea and esté:

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Mamá quiere que [yo] sea doctor  / Mom wants me to be a doctor.
Mi hermana piensa que es mejor que [yo] sea dentista / My sister thinks it's best for me to be a dentist.

Lola me pide que [yo] esté tranquilo / Lola asks me to be calm.
Imagino que es mejor que no [yo] esté preocupado / I imagine it's better for me not to beworried.

Note that it's very common to use the pronoun que (that) before the subjunctive. In fact, some Spanish speakers learn to conjugate the subjunctive altogether with this pronoun, like: que yo sea, que tú seas, etc. or que yo estéque tú estés, etc. to differentiate it from the indicative.

The forms sea and esté are also used for the third person singular, which is very convenient since you can use it to talk about wishes or hypothetical situations pertaining to other people, things, and ideas. For example:
 

Entonces, para que sea una sorpresa también.

So, for it to be a surprise also.

Caption 12, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10

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Quiero comprar un barco que sea capaz de... de hacer travesías largas.

I want to buy a boat that is capable of... of making long voyages.

Captions 72-73, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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Y que ya no sea Belanova el grupo de bajo, computadora y voz.

So that Belanova won't be the group of the bass, computer and voice any longer.

Caption 13, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 4

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And with esté:
 

Ya la llamaremos cuando la doctora esté disponible.

We'll call you when the doctor is available.

Caption 42, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer - Part 1

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Son tres modos que se usan para pedirle a alguien que esté alerta.

There are three ways that are used to ask someone to be alert.

Caption 27, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones

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Para que la aceituna esté en condiciones para envasar el lunes.

So that the olives are in condition for packing on Monday.

Caption 35, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 19

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Finally, there's a very common and useful expression that uses sea: o sea, which is used to clarify or explain something. This expression translates as "in other words," "meaning," and other similar phrases.

O sea, que te vas a quedar sin marido durante tres meses.

In other words, you are going to be without a husband for three months.

Caption 27, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

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Using the Word "Sea" - Subjunctive | Verb Ser (to be)

The present subjunctive of the verb ser (to be) is the same in both the first- and third-person singular: sea. This little word is used profusely in Spanish for the most varied purposes. Let's explore and learn a few.
 

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The first person yo (I) uses sea. You can use it to express other people's wishes or expectations placed on you:
 
Quieres que [yo] sea cuidadosa
You want me to be cautious
 
or to deny hypothetic situations or conditions:
 
No es que yo sea mala...
It's not that I'm bad...
 
The third person (he, she, it) also uses sea. Here are examples using sea to talk about people (he, she). The tricky part is that Spanish usually gets rid of the pronouns él or ella, so you will only hear or see the verb sea.
 

No importa que sea morena, blanca, rubia o canela

It doesn't matter if she is dark-skinned, white, blonde or brown

Caption 52, Alberto Barros - Mano a mano

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¿Cómo me voy a andar fijando en él por más simpático... alto, caballero y bello que sea?

How am I going to go around thinking about him no matter how nice... tall, gentlemanly and handsome he might be?

Captions 74-75, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11

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It's the same when you use sea to, for example, talk about a poisonous mushroom:
 

Por tocarlo no pasa nada. Aunque sea mortal.

Nothing happens by touching it. Even though it's lethal.

Captions 114-115, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

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However, the use of sea extends far beyond that in Spanish. Many idiomatic expressions use it. For example, the expression sea lo que is used to express fatalistic sentiments. Use this model phrase to learn it: sea + lo que dios mande (literally, let it be what God commands). Note that it uses subjunctive plus subjunctive:
 
Que sea lo que dios mande
Let it be God's will.
 
Of course, it's possible to get rid of the pronoun que (that) and combine the phrase with a different verb, like querer (to want):
 

Sea lo que Dios quiera.

Let it be God's will.

Caption 9, Baile Folklórico de Puerto Rico - Los Bailarines

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But there's also the expression sea lo que sea, literally meaning "let it be whatever it might be," or more simply put: "whatever it may be."
 
Sea lo que sea, quiero saber la verdad.
I want to know the truth, whatever that may be.

The shorter expression lo que sea (whatever) is even more common:
 

No es solamente utilizar una moneda local o lo que sea.

It's not just to use a local coin or whatever.

Caption 67, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4

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...sea hombre, mujer, o lo que sea.

...whether it's a man, a woman or whatever.

Caption 60, Arume - Barcelona

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The clause para que sea (for it to be, so that it is) is also a great addition to your Spanish vocabulary:
 

Entonces, para que sea una sorpresa también.

So, for it to be a surprise also.

Caption 12, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10

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Para que sea más fácil, le cortáis por la mitad.

So that it is easier, you cut it in half.

Caption 49, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 3

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Finally, don't forget the expression o sea (I mean, meaning):
 

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¡O sea, esto es más de lo que cualquier chica popular puede soportar!

I mean, this is more than any popular girl could bear!

Caption 1, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 4

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Using Subjunctive After Conjunctions of Provision

Let's continue practicing the use of the subjunctive in adverb clauses that are part of compound sentences (99% of the time subjunctive is used in compound sentences) by identifying the conjunctions typically used to introduce it. In our previous lesson we focused on conjunctions of time, this time let's revise the use of the subjunctive combined with conjunctions of provision, a classic match!

The conjunctions that are used to express provision in Spanish are antes (de) que, con tal (de) que, en caso (de) que, para que, sin que. You will love these conjunctions, which, by the way, are more properly called locuciones conjuntivas (conjunctive phrases). Why? Well, because they will always use subjunctive, always. There's no room for mistakes. They are, therefore, a great addition to your vocabulary, one that will automatically improve your proficiency in the use of the subjunctive. Of course, you also must learn the proper way to conjugate the subjunctive; if you are not there yet, we recommend you to first focus on the present subjunctive

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So let's start with the examples. Always use the subjunctive after the conjunction antes (de) que (before):
 

Aléjate de mí y hazlo pronto antes de que te mienta

Get away from me and do it soon before I lie to you

Caption 1, Camila - Aléjate de mi

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The same happens with con tal (de) que (provided that):

Soy capaz de todo con tal de que te quedes a mi lado.
I'm capable of everything, provided that you stay beside me.

You probably noticed that we put the preposition de (of) between parentheses. This is just so you know that many Spanish speakers don't use it and instead just say antes que (before), con tal que (provided that), sometimes even en caso que (in case that). We recommend you to always use it. Read about dequeísmo and queísmo here.

The conjunctive phrase en caso de que (in case that) will also always be followed by subjunctive: 
 

Porque en caso de que esté muy aguado,

Because, in the case that it is very watery,

Caption 46, Recetas de cocina - Papa a la Huancaína

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The same happens with para que (so that, in order that) and sin que (without):
 

Si quieres puedes voltear acá para que veas en el espejo el reflejo y

If you want you can look here so that you see the reflection in the mirror and

Caption 36, Instinto de conservación - Gorgona - Part 4

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Yo soy el que hago que coman sin que tengan hambre

I am the one who makes them eat without being hungry

Caption 10, Calle 13 Calma Pueblo

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Very Polite Independent Clauses Using Subjunctive

Let's go back to the subjunctive just a little. Did you know that one characteristic that sets apart the subjunctive mood from the indicative, conditional, and the imperative is the fact that the subjunctive is found primarily in dependent clauses? (Of course, the other moods can occur there as well.) Let's illustrate this with an example from one of our videos:
 

¿Que estás queriendo que se muera más rápido?

What are you wanting for him to die faster?

Caption 12, Yago - 9 Recuperación - Part 9

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This is a classic example of subjunctive, right? It's being used to talk about a wish, a hypothetical situation. We have highlighted the subjunctive muera in bold and underlined the indicative queriendo to clearly show you the way the subjunctive is used as part of compound sentences: the indicative queriendo plays the main role as the independent clause (the action of wanting), while the subjunctive muera refers to the action that depends on it (the action of dying). This is the way the subjunctive is used most of the time. 

 

But the subjunctive is sometimes used in independent clauses. One of the most interesting cases is when the imperfect subjunctive is used to replace the conditional forms of the verbs poder (to be able), querer (to want), and deber (must) as part of what in Spanish is called el subjuntivo de cortesía (the courtesy subjunctive). As its name indicates, this construction is used to make a request or a suggestion in a more gentle, polite, or deferential way. This type of subjunctive is very, very common, so it's a good idea to memorize the corresponding conjugation for each verb. you can find full conjugations of these verbs on this page.

 

You might also want to explore the following examples. Note that the use of this subjunctive is usually combined with another verb in infinitive:

 

Quisiera saber si los perros tienen cosquillas.

I would like to know if dogs are ticklish.

Caption 102, Animales en familia - Señales de calma y cosquillas en los perros

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¿Pudieras pasarme la leche?

Could you pass me the milk?

Angélica debiera bajar a comer.

Angelica should come down to eat.

Caption 15, Muñeca Brava - 36 La pesquisa - Part 5

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All these expressions would still be correct if you used the conditional forms (querría instead of quisierapodrías instead of pudierasdebería instead of debiera); the use of subjunctive just makes them more polite, refined. It's a subtle difference, really. Think of it this way: using the conditional podrías pasarme la leche could mean, in theory, that the speaker is actually doubting whether the other person is able to pass the milk or not, instead of just asking for a favor. The use of the subjunctive leaves no room for doubts that you are making a polite request.

 

We can't stress enough how common this substitution of conditional with subjunctive is. But make no mistake, this is no conditional, and it only uses these three verbs. You may bump into similar constructions that are just incomplete compound sentences, for example incomplete si (if) clauses:

 

Si yo supiera...

If I only knew...

Caption 72, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 4

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The subjunctive is not used as an independent clause here. Grammatically speaking, this expression is just missing its main clause, in this case a conditional. If we add it, for example: si yo supiera te lo diría (if I only knew I would tell you), we have a classic case of conditional plus subjunctive, as seen in one of our previous lessons on the subject.   

 

The same happens with the following example. It's a tricky one, because even though it uses the verb poder (to be able), this is not a case of courtesy subjunctive. To prove it, we have completed the sentence with a conditional in brackets:

 

Si pudiera bajarte una estrella del cielo [me amarías]

If I could lower down to you a star from the sky [you would love me]

Caption 5, Enrique Iglesias - Cuando me enamoro

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Another interesting use of the subjunctive used as an independent sentence happens when it's used with words that mean “perhaps,” like tal vez and quizá

 

Tal vez cure el tiempo las heridas.

Perhaps time may heal the wounds.

Caption 20, Reik - No desaparecerá

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Of course, it's also possible to simply use the indicative here and say: tal vez cura el tiempo las heridas (perhaps time heals the wounds). The use of subjunctive just stresses the idea that the action is improbable or doubtful, it's also more poetic. However—and this is just an exercise of the mind—another way of understanding these type of expressions is to recall that the words tal vez and quizá mean es posible (it's possible) and thus play the role of the main clause in a classic example of indicative plus subjunctive, where the subjunctive que cure... is the subordinate clause. Just saying.

 

Es posible que cure el tiempo las heridas.
It's possible that time will heal the wounds.

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Combining Subjunctive With Conditional

This is our third lesson in the series on the Spanish subjunctive. We invite you to read our lessons on Subjunctive and Indicative and Subjunctive and Imperative. Our site is featuring new social media widgets, so feel free to share the lessons with all your friends!

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Let's now study how to combine subjunctive with conditional. Don't forget all our examples use bold to highlight the subjunctive and underlining for the other moods.

The Spanish subjunctive can be used with both forms of the conditional. The most common one is the simple conditional. Remember that to conjugate regular -ar, -er and -ir verbs in the conditional, you add the endings -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -íais, -ían to the infinitive form of the verb. You may want to refresh your knowledge of the Spanish conditional and keep your conjugation charts handy for this lesson.

The simple conditional is usually combined with the pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo (imperfect subjunctive). It is one of the most common ways to express wishes in Spanish. Incidentally, this is one of the few cases in which you can use subjunctive as the main or independent clause of a compound sentence in Spanish:

Quisiera que el coche tuviera GPS.
I would want [I wish] the car had GPS.

Compare this to the use of simple present indicative with present subjunctive, which we learned in our first lesson: 

Quiero que el coche tenga GPS.
I want the car to have GPS.

Which is very different from not using subjunctive at all: 
Quiero que el coche tiene GPS.
I want the car has GPS.


ERROR! You can't say this in Spanish. You must use subjunctive as in the first two examples. English can't get away with it either, at least not using present indicative, as shown in the equally wrong translation. The infinitive is acceptable in English ("yes, I want the car to have GPS"), but not Spanish: saying sí, quiero que el coche tener GPS is even worse! Don't do it.

Let's go back to simple conditional and subjunctive. You can also use the simple conditional with the pretérito pluscuamperfecto del subjuntivo (pluperfect subjunctive). Since this is a compound tense that's kind of fancy, is not very common to combine it with simple conditional. But it happens. Let's use the same example with the verb querer (to want):

Querría que el coche hubiera tenido GPS.
I would want [I wish] the car had had GPS. 

And it gets fancier than that. Spanish has two forms of conditional, a simple one and a compound form that uses the verb haber (to have) plus participio (-ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings): the conditional perfect. You can use it with pluperfect subjunctive. These expressions are not common since you can always use a more simple construction. But here are two examples:

With the imperfect subjunctive (seen above):
Habría querido que el coche tuviera GPS.
I would have wanted the car had GPS.

With the pluperfect subjunctive is even less common:
Habría querido que el coche hubiera tenido GPS.
I would have wanted the car had had GPS.

To end this lesson we want to share with you some cases in which Spanish uses subjunctive in simple sentences, short expressions that are very commonly uses in everyday life. Spanish is not precisely well known for having short expressions, but one of our readers helped us realized how beautiful these are:

¡Que descanses!
¡Que te vaya bien!
¡Que llueva!
¡Que todo se solucione!
¡Que salga el sol!

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In fact, if you look closely, these short expressions are just using implicitly the verb desear ( "to wish" or "to hope"):

¡[Deseo] que descanses! I hope you have some rest.
¡[Deseo] que te vaya bien! I hope you do well.
¡[Deseo] que lluevaI hope it rains.
¡[Deseo] que todo se solucioneI hope everything gets solved.
¡[Deseo] que salga el sol! I hope the sun comes out.

Which makes them a classic case of present indicative combined with present subjunctive. 

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Combining the Subjunctive with the Imperative

Can you give orders or express requests using the subjunctive? In this lesson, we are going to answer that question. Let's analyze some model sentences to learn how to combine the subjunctive with other moods and tenses. You can read our previous lesson on subjunctive and indicative here.

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You can combine the imperative (which is only conjugated in the present tense) with two different tenses of the subjunctive. The easiest and the most common case is when you use the imperative with the present subjunctive. Here are two examples (remember we're using bold for the subjunctive):

 

Tú haz lo que quieras y yo también.

You do whatever you want and so do I.

Caption 74, Jugando a la Brisca En la calle

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Y decile a tu amigo que deje de llamarme Vicky.

And tell your friend to quit calling me Vicky.

Caption 19, Muñeca Brava 1 Piloto - Part 4

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Keep in mind that decí (tell) is typically Argentinian. In other countries, you would hear di (tell): dile a tu amigo (tell your friend).

 

But going back to the subjunctive, let's analyze the meaning of the expression in the last example. Spanish uses the subjunctive here because what has been said is in the realm of possibilities (in this case, it is the expression of a desire) not in the realm of facts. So you can't say dile que me deja de llamarme Vickythis is incorrect because the indicative deja (he quits) is reserved to state facts, as in tu amigo deja de llamarme Vicky (your friend quits calling me Vicky).

 

Another way to phrase the same request could be dile a tu amigo que no me llame Vicky (tell your friend not to call me Vicky). Note that instead of using the verb dejar (to quit) we use a negation plus the verb llamar (to call) in present subjunctive (llame). Again, you could not possibly use the indicative mood here and say dile a tu amigo que no me llama Vicky. This is incorrect— well, at least if what you want to express is a desire or a request.

 

For the pure pleasure of curiosity, consider an expression in which this last construction could happen, for example: dile a tu amigo que no me llama Vicky que venga a mi fiesta (tell your friend who doesn't call me Vicky to come to my party). See? We use the indicative llama (he calls) to express that it's a fact that he doesn't call Victoria "Vicky," and then we use the subjunctive venga (to come) because it states Victoria's desire for him to come to her party. 


But let's not torture ourselves with games and let's see the second case of imperative combined with subjunctive, this time the pretérito perfecto (equivalent to present perfect subjunctive) which is a compound tense that uses the auxiliary verb haber (to have):

Haz lo que te hayan dicho los doctores.
Do whatever the doctors have told you. 

 

Dame lo que hayas cocinado.
Give me whatever you have cooked.

 

Dime lo que María te haya contado.
Tell me whatever Maria has told you.
 

This is not exactly an easy tense, right? Compare these sentences with the following ones that use the imperative with the present subjunctive (reviewed first in this lesson):

Haz lo que te digan los doctores.
Do whatever the doctors tell you. 


Dame algo de lo que cocines mañana.
Give me some of what you cook tomorrow.


Dime lo que María quiera.
Tell me whatever Maria wants.
 

The good news is that you can find ways to get away without using the pretérito perfecto del subjuntivo. For example, you can just use the simple past indicative. It's much less... let's say sophisticated, because the subtle meaning of indeterminacy that the subjunctive gives to the expression (which in English is expressed using the word "whatever") gets lost. Still, the past indicative gets the job done:

Haz lo que te dijeron los doctores.
Do what the doctors told you


Dame lo que cocinaste.
Give me what you cooked.


Dime lo que María te contó.
Tell me what Maria told you.

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That's it for today. We hope you liked this lesson and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

 

¡Hasta la próxima!

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