Help with the Spanish Subjunctive

Ay, Dios m�­o. Nothing gives Spanish students more headaches than learning the subjunctive mode. I know, because when I was studying Spanish it was my biggest frustration. Following these three relatively simple rules, even the most confused student can find relief when dealing with the subjunctive.

First Rule: Subordinate Clause

There must always be a subordinate clause followed by “que” for the subjunctive to be used. Without the “que”, the infinitive or indicative should be used.

No creo que �©l sepa bailar.
I don’t believe that he knows how to dance.

Me gusta bailar.
I like to dance.

Second Rule: Change of Subject

Yo quiero que �©l haga su tarea.
I want him to do his homework.

In the above example, the subject changed from “I” to “him”. If the subject did not change, the subjunctive would not be used, but rather the infinitive.

Yo quiero hacer bien en mi examen.
I want to do well on my exam.

Third Rule: WEIRDO

W – Wish, Desire

Yo espero que �©l hable m�¡s despacio.
I wish that he spoke more slowly.

Quiero que mi hermano no me moleste.
I want my brother to not bother me.

E – Emotion

Me gusta que mi jefe sea muy simp�¡tico.
I like that my boss is very sympathetic.

Me sorprendi�³ que el subjuntivo sea tan f�¡cil.
It surprised me that the subjunctive is so easy.

I – Impersonal Expressions

Es importante que los estudiantes estudien.
It’s important that the students study.

Es extra�±o que las calles no tengan marcas.
It’s strange that the streets do not have names.

NOTE: There are 5 exceptions to this rule, and they follow the acronym VOCES: Verdad, Obvio, Cierto, Evidente, and Seguro. The subjunctive is not used with these words unless they are used in the negative.

Es obvio que ella es muy inteligente.
It’s obvious that she is very intelligent.

No es cierto que �©l sepa donde estamos.
It’s not certain that he knows where we are.

R – Recommendations

Te recomiendo que t�º compres el equipaje.
I recommend that you buy luggage.

Me sugiri�³ que yo deba esperar.
He suggested to me that I should wait.

D – Doubt

Dudo que ella est�© mintiendo.
I doubt that she is lying.

No est�¡ seguro que a ella le guste.
He is not sure that she likes him.

O – OjalÃ?¡

Ojal�¡ que el tiempo hoy sea muy bueno.
Hopefully the weather today is very nice.

Ojal�¡ que mi equipo vaya a ganar el torneo.
Hopefully my team is going win the tournament.

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