Available on the App Store
Get it on Google Play

Transcript 1
Lesson
Quiz 1
Quiz 2

Subjunctive - Part V



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation

Unrealized or hypothetical situations


When the main verb is in the future tense and the relative clause is introduced by one of the following conjunctions, always use a subjunctive verb in the relative clause.

EN CUANTO
Te haré llegar los informes en cuanto los tenga preparados.
I'll send you the reports as soon as I get them ready.

MIENTRAS
Tomaré una ducha mientras prepares la cena.
I'll take a shower while you make dinner.

ANTES DE QUE
Antes de que compremos un perro, tienes que prometer que lo cuidarás.
Before we buy a dog, you have to promise that you'll take care of him.

A MENOS QUE
A menos que prometas cuidar del perro, no lo compraremos.
Unless you promise to take care of the dog, we won't buy it.

CON TAL QUE
Haré lo que sea con tal que te sientas bien.
I'll do anything as long as you feel good.

SIN QUE
No te irás a dormir sin que te tomes tus medicinas.
You are not going to bed without taking your medicine.

On the other hand, when the main verb is not in the future tense and the relative clause is introduced by one of these conjunctions, always use an indicative verb in the relative clause.

Llegué a casa cuando tus padres estaban durmiendo.
I got home when your parents were sleeping.

Tomé una ducha mientras hacías la cena.
I took a shower while you were making dinner.

Expressing partial/total uncertainty with quizás(s) and tal vez

It is posible to use the adverbs quizá or tal vez either with the indicative or the subjunctive. The difference comes in the level of uncertainty the speaker wants to imply in the sentence.

When the speaker wants to express total uncertainty, quizá and tal vez need to be used with the subjunctive. When the speaker wants to express partial uncertainty, quizá and tal vez need to be used with the indicative.

Miguel se ha quedado en casa esta noche. No sé porqué. Quizá tenga mucho trabajo que hacer.
Miguel se ha quedado en casa esta noche. No sé porqué. Quizá tiene mucho trabajo que hacer.
Miguel stayed in tonight. I don't know why. He might have a lot of work to do.

The difference between these two sentences is only in the degree of doubt we have about why Miguel is staying home tonight. In the first sentence, we don't really know if Miguel has too much work to do and that's the reason he's staying home. In the second sentence, we don't know if Miguel has too much work to do either, but we have the feeling that this is the reason he's staying home tonight.