Spanish Subjunctive Tips

Spanish Subjunctive Tips


Two weeks ago we started working on the Subjunctive yet again.  This is a journey we take most years for a few weeks to keep the students terrified.  Just kidding :)

I started to think though, that there are several common rookie mistakes that many people don’t know about the subjunctive.  Here is a short list:


1 – The Subjunctive is not a tense; it is a mood consisting of 4 tenses: The Present Subjunctive, The Present Perfect Subjunctive, The Imperfect Subjunctive & the Past Perfect Subjunctive


2 – The Subjunctive is rarely used when both clauses refer to the same person.  Usually if you wish, doubt, or have an opinion about yourself, you would use 2 verbs in a row, without que, and without the subjunctive. For example:
(Yo) Espero ir mañana.  Subjunctive not needed – when 1 verb follows another, the 2nd verb is in the infinitive form.
(Yo) Espero que (tú) vayas.  Subjunctive needed because the 2 clauses refer to different people.


3 – The Subjunctive is ALWAYS used when a verb follows Ojalá, not matter who you are referring to.


4 – There are 3 components to learning the Subjunctive: 1) When you need to use it, 2) Which of the 4 tenses you need to use and 3) The conjugations.  


5 – There are several abbreviations used to teach the Subjunctive, a common one being WEIRDO.  

W = wishes, E = emotions, I = Impersonal expressions, R = recommendations, D = doubt/denial and O = ojalá.  

While I think it’s great to have these phrases to remember when to use it, they don’t always work and it gives you a lot to think about while you’re trying to talk.  I find it easier for the students to learn the trigger phrases instead.


These are just a few pointers, but the most important tip I can give you when you’re learning the Subjunctive, is to have a positive attitude.  It’s a lot to learn. Take it easy, learn some triggers and some common uses and go from there.  And also, remember how amazing you sound when you use it!  It’s impressive to native Spanish speakers :)