When do I use the subjunctive tense?

It's better to think of the subjunctive as a mood rather than a tense. As a general rule, it is used to express a feeling of uncertainty in a sentence.


Here are the main situations where the verb will need to be in the subjunctive form:

1. Following certain phrases containing "que", for example: no pienso que, no creo que, a menos que, es posible que, es necesario que, es importante que.

Example: Es posible que ya sepan. = It's possible that they already know.


2. In commands in the imperative. Positive commands in the  and vosotros are the only forms take don't take the subjunctive.

Example: ¡Muévete! = Move! but ¡No te muevas! = Don't move!


3. In if clauses. In this instance, the imperfect subjunctive is used.

Example: Si tuviera más dinero, los compraría. = If I had more money, I would buy them.


4. Following words like "cuando" when the action is in the future, and may or may not happen.

Example: Cuando termines tu trabajo, da de comer al perro. = When you finish, feed the dog.

Example: Cuando salga el sol, colgaré la ropa. = When the sun comes out, I'll hang out the washing.


Practise above all the first situation mentioned above, since this will be the most common use of the subjunctive when you write and speak at GCSE level.

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