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Subjunctive Explanation — Spanish Verb Conjugation

Bienvenido. Welcome to the “Subjunctive Lessons” of the course. The subjunctive tense doesn’t exist in English. It’s a tense that many Americans never fully master because they simply don’t take the time. Here, we’ve broken down the subjunctive tense and simplified it for you so you can learn it, become fluent in and master it. As with any verb tense in Spanish, the key is to practice and put enough time into it so it becomes second nature.

Basically, there are three types of phrases that can trigger the subjunctive tense. They are phrases of hope, doubt or desire. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Our first example is an example of a phrase of hope triggering the subjunctive. It is: “I hope she goes soon”. In this case, “I hope” triggers the subjunctive” and “she goes” is conjugated using the subjunctive tense.

Our next example, is an example of a phrase using doubt that triggers the subjunctive. It is: “We doubt he’s coming.” In this case, “We doubt” triggers the subjunctive” and “he’s coming” is conjugated using the subjunctive tense.

Our last example is a phrase using desire that triggers the subjunctive. It is: “We want them to leave.” In this case, “We want” shows desire and triggers the subjunctive” and “them to leave” would be conjugated using the subjunctive tense.

I realize that right now, this concept may seem pretty abstract and obviously very new. To simplify it, in the next lesson, you’ll learn certain phrases that always trigger the subjunctive. Once you learn these triggers, you’ll know that the subjunctive conjugation always follows.

Moving on, a change of subject can also indicate the subjunctive in most cases. Let’s look at some examples:

The Phrase ____ shows_____:

I hope she goes to the store.  Hope

Change of Subject – She goes is conjugated in subjunctive tense.

The Phrase ____ shows_____:

She wants him to share his cookies.  Desire

Change of subject – The phrase “him to share” is conjugated in subjunctive tense.

The Phrase ____ shows_____:

We don’t think they can go.  Doubt

Change of subject – The phrase “they can go” is conjugated in the subjunctive tense.

Remember if you want to say, “He wants to eat tomorrow”, you would say “Él quiere comer mañana.” Even though this shows desire, the subjunctive isn’t used since there’s a change of subject. However, if you said, “He wants Juana to eat tomorrow”, first, there is a change of subject from “He” to “Juana” and it’s also a situation of hope.

So, the phrase:

Él quiere comer mañana (NOT SUBJUNCTIVE) – is not subjunctive because, even though it shows desire, there’s no change of subject.

However, the phrase _____does show ______:

It’s possible for Juana to eat tomorrow.   Doubt

Change of subject – Juana to eat is conjugated in the subjunctive tense.

This ends our introduction to the subjunctive tense. If the concept still feels new or a little confusing, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Please feel free to review this lesson as much as you’d like. And remember, the next lesson will show you common phrases that always trigger the subjunctive.


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