1. Mood? What Is That?
  2. Tenses
  3. How Do I Distinguish Each Mood?

Spanish has three moods — the subjunctive, the indicative, and the imperative — which express different functions. Let's learn more about the differences between the subjunctive and the indicative.



Alberto vendrá al viaje.

Alberto is coming on the trip.

Ojalá que alberto venga al viaje.

Hopefully Alberto will come on the trip.

Mood? What Is That?

Rule 1. What does it mean to say that the subjunctive and indicative are two "moods" of Spanish? Well, many languages have two or more moods to distinguish the real from the unreal.

"Mood" means that it is a way of speaking that is more related to reality or unreality. Below, we'll explain the difference between these two, and it will be clearer for you.

Indicative Mood - Usages

Rule 2. The indicative mood is used for everything closer to reality — either because it has happened, is happening, or will happen. It can also be used with concrete actions or ideas, not abstract ones such as emotions.

It is, of course, the mood most commonly used on a daily basis, since it is used to talk about the actions we perform every day.



Los alumnos aprenden español.

Students study Spanish.

In this example, it is a fact that the students are learning Spanish. It is a concrete action that is happening in the present.

Subjunctive Mood - Usages

Rule 3. Naturally, the subjunctive is used to talk about everything that the indicative does not deal with. That is, everything that is more attached to unreality, abstract actions or ideas, or actions with more subjectivity.

For this reason, the subjunctive is used with desires, emotions, opinions, hopes, recommendations, negations, and doubts.



Ojalá que los alumnos aprendan español.

Hopefully the students will learn Spanish.

In contrast with the indicative example, here we are just wishing that students learn Spanish. However, it is not a fact, just a wish, so it can be categorized as an unreal action.


Rule 4. As you may have noticed, mood is not the same as verb tense. The subjunctive and the indicative have practically the same verb tenses, but the subjunctive does not have preterite or any of the conditionals.

Rule 5. The tenses of the indicative mood are as follows:

  1. Presente
  2. Pretérito
  3. Imperfecto
  4. Futuro
  5. Condicional
  6. Pretérito Perfecto
  7. Pluscuamperfecto
  8. Futuro Perfecto
  9. Condicional Perfecto

Rule 6. The tenses of the subjunctive mood are as follows:

  1. Presente
  2. Imperfecto
  3. Futuro
  4. Pretérito perfecto
  5. Pluscuamperfecto
  6. Futuro Perfecto

How Do I Distinguish Each Mood?

It seems that differentiating between these two moods is a challenging task, but in reality, you just need to familiarize yourself with their functions and the speaker's intention, and you will be able to identify and use them properly.

Nevertheless, here are some tips for first-time subjunctive learners to help you identify it.

Look out for subjunctive phrases

Rule 7. Fortunately, the subjunctive uses phrases consistently that will help you to identify this mood immediately. In this article, we teach you all the functions and constructions used in the subjunctive.

In general, if there are phrases like the following, it is a subjunctive phrase, and it will require a verb conjugated in any of the subjunctive tenses:

Subjunctive PhrasesTranslation
Deseo que... I wish that
Ojalá que Hopefully...
No creo que... I don't think that...
Les aconsejo que... I advise you all to...
Nos irrita que la gente... It irritates us that people...
Es importante que... It is important that...
Subjunctive PhrasesTranslation
Deseo que... I wish that
Ojalá que Hopefully...
No creo que... I don't think that...
Les aconsejo que... I advise you all to...
Nos irrita que la gente... It irritates us that people...
Es importante que... It is important that...

As you can notice, all these phrases are related to expressing emotions, desires, denials, doubts, and opinions. All these functions belong to the subjunctive.

The famous que

Rule 8. You are probably already familiar with the relative pronoun que, which serves to provide more information in a sentence. It is said to be famous, because it is used a lot in subjunctive sentences, in fact, in the sentences of the previous point, you can see that all of them have it.

However, it is very important to know how to differentiate between a que in a relative clause and a subjunctive sentence.

The easiest way to do this is either by identifying if the que is between commas (then is relative) or by asking yourself if its function is to provide additional information about the subject (then is relative as well). If not, it is a subjunctive sentence.



Mi amiga, que sabe hablar español, ordenó todo en el restaurante.

My friend, who can speak Spanish, ordered everything at the restaurant.

In the example above, we know that que is relative, because it is between commas, and it is giving us additional information about the subject (mi amiga).



Me molesta que la gente tire basura.

It bothers me when people litter.

In this example, in addition to the fact that it does not meet any of the conditions of relative clauses, it is in a sentence that expresses emotion.

The famous ojalá

Rule 9. Ojalá is another word associated with the subjunctive that expresses hope or desire. So if you see it in a sentence, it means the sentence is subjunctive.



Ojalá sea un buen día hoy.

Hopefully it will be a good day today.



The indicative is used to talk about ___


correct answers.