Tag: Indicativo

When should I use the indicative or the subjunctive?

When should we use the indicative or the subjunctive? Do they follow certain phrases or verbs?

Let’s take a look at some general uses of the indicative and the subjunctive:

We use the indicative to talk about actions, events, states which are believed to be facts or true. It is a rather objective mood. On the other hand, we use the subjunctive mood to talk about wishes, emotions, doubts, and hypothetical situations. It is a rather subjective mood.


a) Facts vs hopes and doubts:

[row][one-third]Él está triste. (He is sad.)[/one-third][two-thirds]Dudo que esté triste. (I doubt he is sad.)[/two-thirds][/row]

[row][one-third]Ella estudia español. (She studies Spanish.)[/one-third][two-thirds]Ojalá que estudie español. (I hope she studies Spanish.)[/two-thirds][/row]


b) Verbs of opinion: if our statement is affirmative, we use the indicative; if it’s negative, we use the subjunctive. (Click here to learn more about this  use.):

[row][one-third]Creo que la película es interesante. (I think the movie is interesting.)[/one-third][two-thirds]No creo que la película sea interesante. (I don’t think the movie is interesting.)[/two-thirds][/row]

[row][one-third]Me parece que tenemos tiempo suficiente. (I think we have enough time.)[/one-third][two-thirds]No me parece que tengamos tiempo suficiente. (I don’t think we will have enough time.)[/two-thirds][/row]


c) After “cuando”, “mientras”, “hasta que”, “tan pronto como”: we use the indicative when the action has taken place already or it happens regularly; we use the subjunctive when the action has not taken place yet:

[row][one-third]Nos gusta dormir la siesta cuando llueve. (We like to nap when it rains.)[/one-third][two-thirds]Me gustaría dormir la siesta cuando llueva. (I would like to nap when it rains.)[/two-thirds][/row]

[row][one-third]Vemos las noticias mientras comemos. (We watch the news while we eat.)[/one-third][two-thirds]Veremos las noticias mientras comamos. (We will watch the news while we eat.)[/two-thirds][/row]


d) Descriptions: we use the indicative to talk about specific people or things, and we use the subjunctive to talk them in general terms.

[row][one-third]Llama al profesor que sabe español. (Call the teacher who knows Spanish.)[/one-third][two-thirds]Llama a un profesor que sepa español. (Call any teacher who knows Spanish.)[/two-thirds][/row]

[row][one-third]Nuestra casa tiene vista al mar. (Our house has an ocean view.)[/one-third][two-thirds]Queremos una casa que tenga vista al mar. (We want a house that has an ocean view.)[/two-thirds][/row]

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“Creo que” Vs. “No creo que”

“Creo que…” and “no creo que..” are used to express our opinion or certainty regarding an idea or given fact. In this sense, they correspond to the English structures “I believe /think that…” and “I don’t believe/think that…”

When using these structures, the main verb (verbo de opinión) can be conjugated in the indicative or subjunctive mood, respectively, depending if the sentence is positive or negative.


Here you will find a practical explanation of this phenomenon:

1) We use the indicative when the verb is affirmative (Creo que…):

These expressions show that the speaker is confident in their opinions:

  • Creo que Joaquín Sorolla es el pintor que mejor captó la vida y la luz de las costas del Mediterráneo. I think that Joaquín Sorolla is the painter that best captured the life and the light of the Mediterranean shoreline.
  • Archer Huntington creyó que Sorolla tenía un gran talento y por eso lo introdujo al mercado estadounidense. Archer Huntington believed that Sorolla had great talent and that is why he introduced to the American market.


2) We use the subjunctive when the verb is negative (No creo que…):

These expressions show that the speaker is not completely confident in the opinion they are stating:

  • Él no creyó que la exhibición de Sorolla haya sido tan magnifica como todos decían. He didn’t think that the Sorolla exhibit was as magnificent as everyone claimed.
  • Ellos no creyeron que fuera necesario hacer cola para ver los murales el día de la inauguración. They didn’t believe it was necessary to wait in line to check out the murals on opening day.


There are other verbs similar to creer which are used to express opinions:

  • Pensar que
  • Parecer que
  • Opinar que
  • Suponer que
  • Saber que
  • Ser cierto que
  • Ser verdad que
  • Considerar que

Just like with creer que, these verbs are followed by the indicative mood if the phrase is positive, and by the subjunctive mood if the phrase is negative.

  • Es cierto que “Visión de España” fue todo un éxito; más de 160,000 personas visitaron la exhibición en un mes. It is true that “Visión de España” was a success; over 160.000 visited the exhibition in a month.
  • No considero que sus obras de crítica social sean tan buenas como sus trabajos posteriores. I don’t feel as if his social commentary works were as good as his subsequent works.
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