Unidad 3: Las comidas y los restaurantes

4. Avancemos con el subjuntivo para hablar cortésmente o para pedir recomendaciones

In the previous lessons, you learned how to communicate about what you do currently (facts) using indicative mood and to express your wishes, wants, needs and opinions about the actions of someone or something else via the subjunctive mood.

As you recall the mood is a category or set of categories of a verb that indicates the attitude of the speaker toward what is being said, as in expressing a fact, a question, a possibility, a wish, or a command.*

  • Subjunctive mood is subjective. It reflects the speaker’s feelings, needs, or attitudes / doubts, fears: UNCERTAINTY.
  • Indicative mood is factual. It expresses facts, actual, known information or definite events: CERTAINTY or REALITY.

*To express commands, we use the imperative mood. We will study this third mood in subsequent lessons.

Each one of the moods has its own tenses. The tense of the verb indicates when the action takes place.

  • The indicative mood has present, past preterit, past imperfect, future and conditional.
  • The subjunctive mood has present, past imperfect and future*
  • The imperative mood has only one tense: present.

*literary use only.

Spanish has different options to be polite, the subjunctive mood is useful in this sense. The subjunctive helps us to politely suggest something to someone.

You may have noticed in the dialogue with Carmen, Enrique y la camarera that they asked and provided recommendations or suggestions of one another. Let‘s see the following example:

La camarera: Por supuesto. Les recomiendo que prueben Montesco. Es una línea de vino moderno, que destaca la personalidad de los vinos de Altura, con su elegancia y frescura, con una gran integración de frutas y madera. Sugiero que lo tomen con nuestro plato “bife de chorizo”.

The subjunctive is a polite way of offering advice without being overbearing and direct.

Remember the formula for a sentence or a question in the subjunctive mood:

Subject 1 + Verb 1 + (Extra Info.) + que + Subject 2 ** Verb 2 (Extra info.)


Subject 1 + Verb 1 + (Extra Info) + Subject 2 + que + Verb 2 + (Extra info)

Although we studied the following triggers for the subjunctive, there are other reasons or triggers for the use of the present subjunctive. You will learn more of them in your next course, but for now we will focus on providing recommendations and suggestions.

Condition Some verbs that express the condition:
Wish/will Querer* (e-ie) (to want), desear (to desire), esperar (to wish/hope),
Opinions (via Impersonal Expressions) Es importante que (It is important that), es mejor que (It is better that), es necesario que (it is necessary that).
Need Necesitar (to need).

In the dialogue Enrique asked for recommendations or suggestions:

Enrique: ¿Tiene Ud. alguna recomendación de un vino tinto argentino?

La camarera: Por supuesto. Les recomiendo que Uds. prueben Montesco.

If you look at the subjunctive sentence formation formula, you will see how the waitress’ reply corresponds with the mood and the elements of subjunctive.

Subject 1 + Verb 1 + (Extra Info.) + que + Subject 2 ** Verb 2 (Extra info).

Identify the parts of the subjunctive below the following statement that the waitress makes:

“Sugiero que lo tomen con nuestro plato “bife de chorizo”.

Subject 1:__________ Subject 2 **:__________

Verb 1 : __________ Verb 2: _______________

(Extra Info.): __________ (Extra info): __________

In order to make suggestions or recommendations, the first verb or the verb in the part of the statement that is referred to as an independent clause is in the present indicative. Write the present indicative conjugations for these two subjunctive triggers.

Remember these verbs are stem changers in the present indicative.

Pronombres Personales Recomendar Sugerir
él, ella, usted
ellos, ellas, ustedes

As you recall the formation of the verb in the 2nd half of the sentence, the dependent clause referred to as verb 2 in the formula, is:

  • Start with the present indicative yo form
  • Drop the “o”
  • Add the opposite endings
  • ARàe, es, e, emos, éis, en
  • ER/IRàa, as, a, amos, áis, an

A graphic of a stack of plates.As in the indicative mood in the present tense we studied many irregular verbs. The subjunctive in the present tense also has irregular verbs. To help you remember the irregular verbs in the subjunctive mood in the present tense you can use DISHES:

  • D dar: dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den
  • I – ir: vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan
  • S saber: sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan
  • H haber: haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan
  • E estar: esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén
  • S ser: sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

Tarea: Using the present subjunctive, make recommendations and suggestions about the food on campus. Provide at least 10 opinions of the various eateries on campus and off campus including what foods one should eat at the eateries and which places or meals you suggest should be avoided. You will hand this assignment in to your instructor.


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Yo puedo: segundos pasos Copyright © by Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams & Ma. Del Rocío Vallejo-Alegre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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