Examples of the subjunctive in Spanish | 10 useful phrases to survive

May 24, 2021 | Spanish Grammar

Examples of the subjunctive in Spanish – 10 useful phrases to survive

The Spanish subjunctive is a tough one! But we want to make it a bit easier for you with our ten useful examples of the subjunctive in Spanish.

You will often hear these Spanish phrases when you travel to a Spanish speaking country or you speak with native speakers.

Of course, this topic is way more complex to try to squeeze it into a “10 useful phrases with the Spanish subjunctive” list, but we recommend memorizing them. It will help you realize when and how to use this mode; it’s the first step to master the “monster of el subjuntivo”.

With these small chunks (learn more about this concept here) you´ll get the hang of it after a while.

Since we are from El Salvador, we will focus on subjunctive examples in Spanish that you will often hear in our country. However, you will be able to use them anywhere!


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spanish subjunctive

What is the Spanish subjunctive?

When you start learning Spanish, you usually make quick progress. But when it comes to the Spanish subjunctive, many students begin to struggle, and for a good reason: el “subjuntivo” doesn’t really exist as such in other languages like English or German, but it exists in six (!) different tenses in Spanish; that’s a lot to study!

Spanish Present Subjunctive

  • Present Subjunctive
  • Present Perfect Subjunctive

Spanish Past Subjunctive

  • Imperfect Subjunctive
  • Past Perfect Subjunctive Forms

Spanish Future Subjunctive

  • Future Subjunctive
  • Future Perfect Subjunctive

Learning video: The Spanish subjunctive

To make it short: The Spanish subjunctive is one of the three moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. You use it to express emotions, desires, doubts, the unknown, or the abstract. Sounds fascinating, but also a bit complicated, doesn’t it?

The good news is that some Spanish subjunctive tenses are mostly used in literature, which means that you don’t have to worry about them too much as an intermediate speaker. So, don’t start by learning all these grammar charts by heart! Start with our examples of the subjunctive in Spanish (present)!

Anyway, if you do want to start learning some grammar charts about the subjunctive, we recommend using this webpage (click here). You can conjugate any verb for all the Spanish tenses and moods. We can’t do it better!

Examples of the subjunctive in Spanish

¡Que le vaya bien! | ¡Que te vaya bien!

It means something like “Take care!” or “I wish you well!”. The Spanish subjunctive vaya comes from the verb “ir” (to go). In this phrase, you can’t say ¡Que le va bien! (usted) because you use the subjunctive to express desires, doubts, emotions, the unknown, and something abstract. The person who says,  ¡Que te vaya bien! (tú) to you has the wish, the desire, that you are doing well.  

examples of the spanish subjunctive

¡Que tenga(s) un feliz día!

Have a great day! As Salvadoran people are usually very amiable people, you will often hear this phrase! If you know the person well, you would say ¡Que tengas…! (with s), because you usually use the 2nd person singular then (informal).

As in the first sentence, this is one of the best examples of the subjunctive in Spanish because you will often hear and use it.

¡Espero que estés bien!

Like in the first sentence, this is an excellent example of the Spanish subjunctive: “I hope you’re doing well.” The expression espero que is a desire, a wish, and triggers the Spanish subjunctive. Also, there are two subjects in this sentence. One in the main/independent clause (espero = I hope) and one in the dependent clause (que estés bien). You can’t say “¡Espero que estás bien!”

¡Ojalá nos veamos la próxima semana!

Hopefully we’ll see each other next week! Like espero que, the word ojalá (hopefully) triggers the Spanish subjunctive if you use it to express a desire. Saying “¡Ojalá nos vemos la próxima semana!” isn’t correct.

Sea lo que sea.

Whatever it is. Sé que algo te está preocupando. Sea lo que sea, dímelo, y a lo mejor te puedo ayudar. (I know something is bothering you. Whatever it is, tell me, and maybe I’ll be able to help.) In this phrase, the Spanish subjunctive is triggered because the person who says it doesn’t know if something will happen. The “unknown” requires the subjunctive of ser (to be). Es lo que es is wrong.

¡No creo que vaya a surfear mañana!

I don’t think that I (he) will go surfing tomorrow. One of the best  examples of the subjunctive in Spanish! Verbs that express doubts, like no creo + que or dudo + que (I doubt…), almost always trigger the Spanish subjunctive. Saying “¡No creo que voy a surfear mañana!” is wrong!

In general, not going surfing in El Salvador is wrong ;-). If you want to learn more about surfing in El Salvador: click here.

examples of the spanish subjunctive

¡(No) Quiero que te vayas!

I (don’t’) want you to leave/go! There are situations where this sentence might be very useful. Like espero + que also quiero + que is one of the best examples of the subjunctive in Spanish. It expresses a wish, an order, or a desire. The verb that follows is always in the subjunctive mood. ¡Quiero que te vas! is therefore incorrect.

¡Lamento mucho que no vengas a la fiesta!

I’m so sorry you’re not coming to the party! Expressions of emotions, for example, me gusta +que, siento + que or me alegro + que always trigger the Spanish subjunctive in the following verb. You can’t say: “¡Lamento mucho que no vienes a la fiesta!”

examples of the spanish subjunctive

¡Es importante que no venga(s) tarde!

It’s important that you don’t come late! A phrase in the Spanish subjunctive that you should not forget, especially if you are in Latin America, as we tend to interpret “on time” very differently. ¡Es importante que no vienes mañana!” is wrong. You have to use the subjunctive because it’s a strong wish that you express, so the verb in the subjunctive clause needs to be in the Spanish subjunctive (vengas and not “vienes”).

¡Es necesario que pruebes las pupusas!

You need to try Pupusas! (Because it’s the traditional dish in El Salvador and the best in the world, by the way). Another excellent example of the Spanish subjunctive. Instead of …que pruebas las pupusas… you have to use the subjunctive pruebes. Es necesario que… is an expression of someone’s opinion or value judgment and always trigger the subjunctive. Read more here if you don’t know what pupusas are.

examples of the spanish subjunctive

We hope that this article has helped you to take the first step of mastering the Spanish subjunctive. If you like it, please let others know or leave a comment below! Did we forget any important examples of the subjunctive in Spanish? Please let us know!

If you want to learn more about the Spanish subjunctive, please contact us to book your free trial lesson.

If you are intersted in other topics about the Spanish grammar, you should try these articles:

3 essential tips to master the Spanish past tenses

The Por vs. Para Quiz

The Ser vs. Estar Quiz 


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