Subjunctive Mood in Spanish

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  • 0:02 Moods
  • 1:02 The Subjunctive Mood…
  • 2:13 The Subjunctive Mood…
  • 3:02 Examples
  • 4:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pablo Serna

Pablo has taught college Spanish at the University of Missouri and Central Methodist University, and has a master's degree in Spanish literature.

In this lesson, we will take a brief look at what moods are and then focus on understanding the subjunctive mood and when to use it. This is an introduction to the concept to prepare you for future lessons that will dive deeper.


Today, we will talk about moods, but we're not referring to whether or not you are cranky or happy right now. Instead, we're looking at the attitude of the speaker towards the verb in a sentence. This is different than the tense, which indicates time.

Moods in Spanish include indicative, subjunctive, conditional and imperative. The indicative mood indicates a fact, like 'I like the color red,' while subjunctive expresses hypothetical situations, like 'I doubt that you cried in that movie.' The conditional mood expresses a condition or possibility, like 'If I were a fish, I would explore coral reefs,' and the imperative gives commands, like 'Go study more.'

Now, we will focus only on the subjunctive mood.

The Subjunctive Mood in English

You may be wondering if we even have the subjunctive mood in English. It was actually once common but now survives in only a few expressions, like 'I suggest that he...'

What sounds more accurate to you? A) I suggest that he RUNS far away or B) I suggest that he RUN far away. Option B is the use of subjunctive. Usually we conjugate run in the third person singular (he/she) as 'he/she runs,' but in the subjunctive mood, there is no 's' at the end.

The subjunctive talks about a situation that is uncertain, unreal or just a wish. Also, the subjunctive mood talks about the urgency or importance of something, like me suggesting he run far away. The subjunctive is still commonly used in Spanish and difficult to avoid. I recommend you learn this mood! (That was subjunctive because it is very important.)

The Subjunctive Mood in Spanish

The subjunctive mood is used in Spanish similarly as in English. Expressions of uncertainty or hypothetical situations can trigger the subjunctive. There are also certain verbs and expressions that you can memorize that trigger the subjunctive. These include verbs and expressions that:

  1. Attempt to influence people, like 'I recommend that you...'
  2. Express emotion, like 'I am scared that...'
  3. Express uncertainty, like 'I doubt that you know that...'

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