USING THE SUBJUNCTIVE TO DESCRIBE THE INDEFINITE OR THE NON-EXISTENT

 

Using the subjunctive to describe the unknown or the possibly nonexistent is different from using our normal equation of S 1V1 + que = S 2V2. Instead of having a different subject on either side of the `que`, we are going to have TWO subjects on one side of the `que`, with a description of one of the subjects on the OTHER side of the `que`. With this new use of the subjunctive, our new formula becomes: S 1V1 + S2 + que = adjective clause.

 

An adjective clause is a subordinate or dependent clause that describes a noun mentioned in the main clause. Use the indicative tense to describe a specific person, place, or thing that is KNOWN to exist. Use the subjunctive to describe a person, place, or thing that is only ASSUMED to exist:

 

Conozco un restaurante que sirve buena paella. (Speaker has a specific place in mind - indicative).

VS

ŅConoces un buen restaurante que sirva buena paella? (Speaker does not have a specific place in mind; does not know if one exists Ė subjunctive).

 

 

Ellos viven en una casa que tiene una piscina grande. (The house specified is one that is known to existóbecause they are living there! = indicative! ).

VS

Ellos buscan una casa que tenga una piscina grande. ( The house is indefinite and only assumed to exist, since they are looking for one that meets the requirement of having such a pool. Since they are looking, it means they have not yet found one! = subjunctive!).

 

 

** The subjunctive is also used to describe a non-existent noun:

No he visto a nadie que tenga mi libro. ( I havenít seen anyone who has my book).

No conozco a nadie que haya comido una rama de fuego. ( I donít know anyone who has eaten a branch of fire/ who is a fire-eater).

 

 

 

More examples:

Tengo un coche que tiene ventanas automáticas. (Indicates that the speaker is already in possession of the item, therefore the item exists.)

VS

Pero quiero un coche que tenga un techo de sol, asientos de cuero, y aire acondicionado y que cueste menos de $12,000. (`Querer` indicates that the speaker wants to acquire such an item, and does not have it yet, therefore, it is assumed to be non-existent [aside from the fact that the speaker will probably not find all of those luxuries in a car for under $12,000!]).

 

Vivo en un apartamento que tiene solamente un dormitorio.

VS

Prefiero vivir en un apartamento que tenga dos dormitorios y una sala grande.

 

 

Busco un hombre guapo que gane mucho dinero y que sea muy sexy.

VS

Conozco a un hombre guapo que gana mucho dinero y que es muy sexy.