The Subjunctive

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The Subjunctive

Of all the conjugations that Spanish has, the subjunctive is probably the most difficult one. The objective of this work is to explain this tense as easily as possible. The explanation will be divided in two parts. The first part is a summary for students who want to receive a practical explanation, and the second part is a deep explanation of this tense.


The most common reason why the subjunctive can be so difficult for English speakers is because there is not a similar tense in English. It is a structure that is used only whenever certain expressions are used. Think it this way, you use it when you want to express a desire for something to occur but only someone else can make it happen.
This acronym can help you understand in which cases the subjunctive should be used.

W - wish/will
E - Emotion/opinion
I - Impersonal expressions (es importante que..., es necesario que...)
R - Request
D - Doubt/Denial
O - Ojalá

The structure of sentences using the subjunctive is usually the following.

Noun + WEIRDO expression + que + the someone else who could make your desire happen + the subjunctive verb conjugated according to the someone else person +

the end of the sentence.

Note: The Noun and the “someone else” who make the action do not need to be written since the conjugation of the verb can tell us who we are talking about.

(Yo) quisiera que (tú) juegues conmigo.
Yo and tú could be interpreted because of the conjugation of the verbs. Quisiera is conjugated in the first person for the present tense, and juegues in the second person for the subjunctive tense. The action juegues conmigo does not depend on yo, only tú can make it happen. In this sentence we know that we have to use the subjunctive because quisiera expresses a wish, and our WEIRDO list tells us that wishes use the subjunctive.…...

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