Spanish Grammar: Subjunctive – Adjective Clauses

Spanish Grammar: The Subjunctive - Adjective Clauses

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Spanish Grammar: Subjunctive – Adjective Clauses
la gramática española: el subjuntivo – cláusulas adjetivas 

  • The subjunctive is a verb mood, not a tense in terms of time.
  • The subjunctive is utilized in adjective (descriptive) clauses.

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The subjunctive is used when we do not know if the action will take place. If we know that it is or will be a reality, the indicative is used. The subjunctive is used to express doubt, how a person feels about an action or state of being, a wish, intent or command. It can also be used to express facts that are the opposite of reality.

Adjectives are specific words that help modify a noun. Adjective clauses are phrases that help describe another phrase (usually called the antecedent) connected with a word like QUE. The subjunctive is used in an adjective clause when the antecedent is indefinite, unknown, or is nonexistent.

So, here’s a statement that has a known (definite) antecedent.

Yo tengo un gato que corre rápido.
I have a cat that runs fast.

See how corre stays in the indicative (not subjunctive). It doesn’t work because we all know that I have cat. No surprises here.

However, here’s an unknown statement.

Yo quiero un gato que corra rápido.
I want a cat that runs fast.

Since we don’t have a cat that meets the description, and are only describing a hypothetical one, we use the subjunctive.

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¿Hay algo aquí que le guste?
Is there something here that you like?

Hay alguien aquí que le conozca?
Is there someone here that knows you?

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