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Learning Spanish: Subjunctive in Noun Clauses

written by: Curt Smothers • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 2/14/2012

The Spanish subjunctive mood is mainly used in sentences with multiple clauses that express will and influence, emotion, and doubt or denial. The main clause is typically followed by a noun clause that serves as the object of the verb of will, influence, etc. (e.g. I hope that you have a good day).

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    The Subjunctive Mood in Noun Clauses

    An example of a noun clause in English would be, “I ask that you go to the doctor.” The subject (I) of the main clause, therefore, exerts influence or will on the subject of the subordinate clause (you), and both subjects are different. In Spanish the subjunctive mood is used in the subordinate noun clause in the following way:

    Yo pido (main clause) + que (connector) + tú vayas al medico (subordinate clause with present subjunctive mood tú vayas). Note that the verb in the main clause (pido) is in the indicative mood.

    The foregoing construction also includes some impersonal expressions such as es necesario que, es importante que, es urgente que. Example: Es urgente que tú vayas al medico.

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    Common Verbs that Precede Noun Clauses Taking the Subjunctive in Spanish

    Verbs of Will and Influence:

    aconsejar -to advise

    desear - to wish; to desire

    exigir - to demand

    importar - to be important; to matter

    insistir (en) - to insist (on)

    mandar - to order

    necesitar - to need

    oponerse a - to oppose

    pedir - to ask (for)

    preferir - to prefer

    prohibir - to prohibit

    proponer - to propose

    querer - to want

    recomendar - to recommend

    rogar - to beg; to plead

    sugerir - to suggest

    Two examples using a verb of will or influence and a connector (que) with a noun clause and subjunctive:

    Necesito que busques a mi hermana en la iglesia. (I need you to look for my sister in the church.)

    El medico siempre me recomienda que deje de comer comida basura. (The doctor always recommends that I stop eating junk food.)

    Verbs of Emotion

    alegrarse (de) - to be happy about

    es extraño - it’s strange

    es ridiculo - it’s ridiculous

    es terrible - it’s terrible

    es una pena - it’s a pity

    esperar - to hope; to wish

    gustar - to like; to be pleasing

    molestar - to bother

    ojalá que - I hope; I wish

    sentir - to be sorry; to regret

    sorprender - to surprise

    temer - to fear

    tener miedo (de) - to be afraid of

    Two examples:

    Me sorprende que no quieras salir a correr. (I am surprised that you don’t want to go running.)

    Ojalá que te recuperes pronto. (I hope you get well soon.)

    Verbs of Doubt or Denial

    dudar - to doubt

    negar - to deny

    no creer - to disbelieve (but the affirmative of creer does not take the subjunctive)

    no es verdad - it’s not true (but the affirmative es verdad does not take the subjunctive)

    es imposible - it’s impossible

    es improbable - it’s improbable

    es poco seguro - it’s uncertain

    (no) es possible - it’s (not possible)

    (no) es probable - it’s not probable

    Two examples:

    No es verdad que Margarita vaya con nosotros. (It’s not true that Margarita is going with us.)

    No creo que Mauricio quiera consultar a un dentista. (I don’t believe Mauricio wants to consult with a dentist.)

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    Read more about the subjunctive mood in noun clauses at:

    About.com: Spanish Language - Introduction to the Subjunctive Mood

    University of Indiana’s website: Subjunctive Mood in Noun Clauses

    Durham University (UK) web page “The Subjunctive Mood in Spanish

    Bright Hub The Forms and Functions of Noun Clauses in English

Learning Spanish: The Subjunctive Mood

Spanish verbs come in two moods: the indicative (stating the real) and the subjunctive (stating the hypothetical or wishes). This series is all about the subjunctive, which Spanish uses much more extensively than English.
  1. Learning Spanish: The Subjunctive Mood
  2. Learning Spanish: Subjunctive in Noun Clauses
  3. Learning Spanish: Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses
  4. Learning the Spanish Subjunctive in Adverbial Clauses
  5. Teaching Spanish: The Spanish Past Subjunctive