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Doubt or negation

We use the subjunctive in noun clauses which are governed by WEIRDO verbs:

Wishing:   e.g., querer (to want), desear (to desire), esperar (to hope)
    Espero que vengas a mi fiesta. (I home you come to my party.)
Emotion:   e.g., alegrarse de (to be/get happy), sentir (to regret/feel sorry)
    Me alegro de que estés bien.(I'm glad you're okay.)
Influence:   e.g., insistir en (to insist (on)), mandar (to command/order)
    Insisten en que yo escriba el informe. (They insist that I wite the report.)
Requesting:   e.g., pedir(to ask, to request), rogar (to beg)
    Ella pide que vayamos con ella al concierto. (She's asking us to go with her to the concert.)
Doubt:   e.g., dudar (to doubt), negar (to deny)
    Dudamos que ustedes puedan comer toda la pizza.(We doubt you can eat the whole pizza.)
Ojalá   (I hope, I wish)
    Ojalá que vuelvas pronto. (I hope you come back soon.)

(In contrast, if the governing verb is one of reporting, affirmation, truth, knowledge, or certainty, we use the indicative in the dependent clause: Yosé/creo/digo que tú eres maravilloso.)


I. Verbs of influence or willing. Verbs such as querer (to want), preferir (to prefer), desear (to desire), insistir en(to insist), mandar (to command), prohibir (to prohibit), requerir (to require), exigir (to demand, require), recomendar (to recommend), pedir (to request/ask for),decir (to tell, say [when not used as a verb of reporting]), alentar (to encourage), etc. require that the subjunctive be used in any subordinate clauses they govern.

Queremos que lo cantes.   We want you to sing it.
Insistes en que lo hagamos? Do you insist that we do it? (Or: Do you insist on our doing it?)
Deseo que te quedes. I want you to stay.
Ella prefiere que lleguemos a las seis. She prefers us to arrive at 6:00.
Recomiendo que salgas. I recommend that you leave.
Manda él que yo lo escriba? Is he ordering me to write it?
Se prohíbe que entremos. It is forbidden for us to enter.
Piden que cenemos allí. They're asking us to dine there.
No permitimos que lo compres. We don't permit you to buy it.
La ley exige que paguemos impuestos. The law requires us to pay taxes.

II. NOTE: Some verbs can either indicate influence (and thus take the subjunctive) or reporting (and thus take the indicative):

Ella dice que nos vamos.   She says we're leaving.   [Reporting a fact: indicative]
Ella dice que nos vayamos. She's telling us to leave. [Giving us a command: subjunctive]
Yo insisto en que él viene. I insist that he is coming. [Know it for a fact: indicative]
Yo insisto en que él venga. I insist that he come. [Giving an order: subjunctive]

III. NOTE: If the same person is the subject for both the verb of influence and the dependent verb, the infinitive is normally used instead of the subjunctive:

Nadie quieretrabajar.   No one wantsto work.
Yo prefieromanejar. I preferto drive.

IV. NOTE: Certain verbs of influence may be used either with the subjunctive or an infinitive, even when there's a change of subject. The infinitive is more frequent when the subject of the dependent verb is a pronoun (rather than a noun or noun phrase). Such verbs include hacer (to make [someone do something]), permitir (to permit), and dejar (to let, allow):

Nadie me hace pensar.   Nobody makes me think.
Déjame trabajar en paz. Let me work in peace.
Ellas no nos permiten bailar. They don't permit us to dance.
Nadie hace que los trabajadores piensen en el porvenir.   No one makes the workers think about the future.
Deja que las secretarias trabajen en paz. Let the secretaries work in peace.
Ellas no permiten que los otros estudiantes bailen. They don't permit the other students to dance.



V. Verbs of emotion. Expressions such as to be happy (estar alegre, alegrarse de), to be sad (estar triste), to fear, be afraid (temer, tener miedo de) to hope (esperar), to feel sorry, regret (sentir, dar lástima), to like, be pleased, be delighted (gustar, agradar, encantar), to dislike, be displeased (disgustar, desagradar), to be surprised (sorprender, estar sorprendido), etc., likewise require the use of the subjunctive in clauses they govern.

Espero que vengan.   I hope they come.
Siento que ella no esté aquí.   I'm sorry she's not here.
Me alegro de que vaya a Madrid.   I'm glad he's going to Madrid.
Temo que haya muchos problemas.   I fearthere are many problems.
Tengo miedo de que no llegue.   I'm afraid she won't arrive.
Te gusta que sea tan fácil?   Are you pleased it's so easy?
Le sorprende que vivamos así.   He's surprised we live like that.

VI. Ojalá (que), while not a verb in Spanish, is used like a verb of emotion or influence with the present subjunctive:

Ojalá que la comida sepa bien.   I hope the food tastes good.
Ojalá nuestro equipo gane mañana. I hope our team wins tomorrow.

VII. Verbs of doubt and negation require the subjunctive in subordinate clauses; examples include negar (to deny), dudar (to doubt), no ser verdad (to not be true/the truth), no estar cierto/seguro (to be unsure, uncertain), no creer (to not believe), etc. Remember that expressions of certainty or belief take the indicative: no negar (to not deny), no dudar (to not doubt), afirmar (to affirm), creer (to believe), estar cierto/seguro (to be sure, certain), etc.

Dudamos que salgan bien.   We doubt they'll do well.
No creo que asistan a la clase. I don't think they attend class.
Niegas que yo pueda hacerlo? Do you deny that I can do it?
No estoy segura de que venga. I'm not sure she's coming.

VIII. NOTE: Normally the reverse (positive/negative) of each of the above sentences does not indicate doubt or negation and thus takes the indicative.

No dudamos que salen bien.   We don't doubt they'll do well.
Creo que asisten a la clase. I think they attend class.
No niegan que yo puedo hacerlo. They don't deny that I can do it.
Estoy segura de que viene. I'm sure she's coming.

IX. Impersonal expressions do not have a specific person or thing as the subject. In English we use the non-specific “it”, but in Spanish the pronoun is omitted. Impersonal expressions such as those given below require the subjunctive in a subordinate clause because they indicate doubt, negation, emotion, influence, or a subjective reaction on the part of the speaker.

Es bueno que lo hagan. It's good for them to do it (or: that they do it).
Es malo It's bad
Es mejor It's better
Es peor It's worse
Es horrible It's horrible
Es horrendo It's horrendous
Es estupendo It's stupendous
Es maravilloso It's marvelous
Es posible It's possible
Es imposible It's impossible
Es probable It's probable
Es improbable It's improbable
Es increíble It's incredible
Es necesario It's necessary
Es preciso It's necessary
Es urgente It's urgent
Es importante It's important
Es interesante It's interesting
Es notable It's notable
Es raro It'sunusual/strange
Es extraño It's strange
Es estúpido It's stupid
Es ridículo It's ridiculous
Es curioso It's curious
Es dudoso It's doubtful
Es difícil It's unlikely
Es fácil It's likely
No es seguro It's uncertain
No es cierto It's uncertain
No es verdad It's untrue

X. NOTE: An infinitive may be used after these expressions if no change of subject is involved:

Es bueno estudiar mucho.   It's good to study a lot.
In contrast to:
Es bueno que estudies mucho.   It's good that you study a lot.

XI. However, impersonal expressions indicating certainty, affirmation, and truth would take the indicative:

Es cierto       It's certain    
Es evidente que sabes esto. It's evident that you know this.
Es verdad   It's true  

XII. Some other verbs and expressions that normally take the indicative in subordinate clauses include those which express: knowledge: saber (to know); certainty: estar seguro, estar cierto (to be certain / sure); truth: ser verdad (to be the truth); affirmation: creer (to believe, think), pensar(to think), declarar (to declare). Verbs of reporting also take the indicative, although many of them can also be used as verbs of influence: decir (to say), indicar (to indicate), insistir en (to insist), reportar (to report), replicar (to reply), responder (to respond), contestar (to answer).

Sé que Elena habla español.   I know that Elena speaks Spanish.   Knowlege: Indicative
Es verdad que yo lo hice.   It's true that I did it.   Truth: Indicative
Creo que están en casa.   I think they're at home.   Affirmation or belief: Indicative
Te digo que vienen.   I'm telling you that they are coming.   Reporting: Indicative
Te digo que vengas.   I 'm telling you to come. [= I 'm telling that you should come.]   Influence or willing: Subjunctive
Insistimos en que aprenden esto.   We insist that they are learning this.   Reporting: Indicative
Insistimos en que aprendan esto.   We insist that they learn this.   Influence or willing: Subjunctive



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