Present Subjunctive in Spanish 6 – Possible Futures

yes-238381_1280The Present Subjunctive in Spanish

As you have probably begun to notice, there are quite a lot of different possibilities when dealing with the present subjunctive in Spanish.

The reason for this is that, as a tense, (or a mood as some refer to it) it is used massively in all communication. There really is no way to avoid it if you want to speak Spanish at a decent level.

However, you needn’t fear. This series of videos and the subsequent helpsheets that will go with it will help you to have the ability to use the present subjunctive in Spanish in virtually all of the areas necessary.

In this podcast we cover the use of the subjunctive in future scenarios.  In the last podcast we covered the use of WHEN or AS SOON AS, which also refers to the future. However, in this one we cover the more subtle ways of referring to the future.

Indirect references to the future.

This may seem very subtle, yet we have many expressions that refer to the future and trigger the present subjunctive in Spanish.


Think about this sentence:

We won’t go unless he gets here by ten. = No nos iremos a no ser que llegue para las diez.

The word ‘unless’ translates to Spanish as ‘a no ser que’, which is a trigger for the present subjunctive in Spanish. Why? If you need a reason, then it is because it refers to a possible future event that may or may not happen.

However, as we repeatedly say, sometimes it’s easier to focus on WHEN you have to use the subjunctive and not WHY.

The reason for that is that the same expression can be used to refer to the past, too. This time it talks about a possible past event.

I’ll, tell her tomorrow, unless he’s already told her, of course. = Se lo diré mañana a no ser que ya se lo haya dicho él, claro.

So, as you can see, even though we are talking about a possible event that has already happened, we are still using the present subjunctive in Spanish.

This is why it’s best to learn to use the subjunctive by ear rather than by rule, which is how Spanish speakers use it.  That way, you don’t have to question yourself or run through a set of rules each time. Rather, the subjunctive will naturally flow from the trigger.

Mientras tanto, you can focus on speaking a beautiful Spanish instead of having to trawl through an interminable list of rules and regulations.

We hope you are enjoying this series. It’s basic, but there’s just about everything you need to start using the present subjunctive in Spanish right away, with confidence!

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson


Native Speaker Blog – Spanish Listening Comprehension – Opinions

elena scaleSpanish Listening Comprehension

Going forward we will be adding various audio and video blogs of Native Spanish Speakers so that you can practice your Spanish listening comprehension.

It’s so important to become accustomed to hearing many different kinds of voices and styles of talking.  If you have been listening to our podcasts it’s likely that you will be familiar with the sound of our voice and the way we speak Spanish.

The next step is to listen to as many other people as possible. For that reason we are going to keep adding blogs of the people we have done interviews with. And what’s more we will be having the same people talking in various interviews.


Just listening to one interview will not allow you to really capture the speaking style of that person. However, if you can hear them speaking in various different situations on different subjects, then you will be able to get accustomed to their voice.

In this audio blog, we have Elena again, Cynthia’s sister in an interview made in Spain outside the family villa, our future home!

What is she talking about?

I did a range of interviews about Spanish people’s opinions of the British. I wanted to understand what perceptions they had of the British and whether they were real or simply founded ideas taken from films or antiquated stories.

Before you listen, it’s worth knowing that the opinion of many British people is that Spanish people are lazy, that they always put things off until “mañana” and that they all have a siesta every day.

This is an old idea that still exists today and has very little bearing on the truth.

Some real perceptions.

One thing that did come out of all the interviews was the idea the Spanish have that British people drink a lot! Who can blame them when their only frame of reference is having seen the millions of tourists that go to the coast of Spain each year to drink themselves into a stupor whilst burning themselves to oblivion.

Thankfully, not all British people are into that kind of thing.

They can be critical of themselves.

In this Spanish listening comprehension you will also hear Elena talking about what she doesn’t like about her own country. Spanish people love their country and are very proud of their cultural heritage. However, their love isn’t blind and they are aware of the faults within their own society.

Listen in as Elena talk you through her own opinions of both the Spanish and the British.


Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Native Speaker Blog – The Crisis in Spain – Subtitled

The Crisis / La Crisiscrisis

In this interview which was recorded in 2009, José Luis gives his impression of the Crisis in Spain and he talks about what he perceives will be the future for Spain.

The fact is that, although things seemed quite grave in 2009, they are nothing compared to what is happening now. The entire country is in problems and to such a degree that even the government workers are struggling to get paid sometimes.

It was only a few years ago that the people in the south of Spain took the law into their own hands and broke into a Mercadona store taking food out to give to the people who literally had nothing to eat.

There was mass media focussed placed on this event with people asking if they really should have broken the law and whether it was a warranted action.

What do you think? Would you steal to feed your friends and family?

Politics and the politicians.

Now, in Spain, there exists a total lack of confidence in the government and the politicians. Clearly, there always has been a level of dissatisfaction regarding the performance of the government, but now, talking to the people everywhere, you can really get their sense of frustration and mistrust in the leaders.

It doesn’t help that terrible scandals come to light almost daily of politicians being caught with “las manos en la masa”, or “red handed” as we say, after having stashed away money that certainly wasn’t their own.

The king also got into hot water recently when it came to light that he had repeatedly spent time in Africa hunting and killing endangered animals. The issue was split between the fact he was hunting animals, (the Spanish are great animal lovers) and that someone was paying for these trips, and it wasn’t the king.

To save face, the king was obliged to apologise live on national TV, saying that he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again.

Hit on all sides.

The issue with the crisis is that it is affecting the Spanish each and every way. Prices are soaring, income is reducing, the government, in a state of panic, is cutting services and state aid, unemployment is at an all time high and many thousands of people are having to rely on charity for their food and clothing.

It’s all a bit of a mess, really. Even José, a few years after this video, was suddenly made redundant and hasn’t been able to find employment since.

Listen in as he explains just what is going on regarding the crisis.

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

El Aula – Quedar Quedarse Encontrar Encontrarse – Knowing the Difference

Quedar and Quedarse.meeting

We have made this particular videoblog especially with you all, our students, in mind. It seems that there is a great confusion regarding which verb to use when you want to meet with friends or “meet up”.

The verb ENCONTRARSE tends to be the most popular to use, yet, as you listen into the blog you’ll see that that’s not really the best one to use.

In fact, QUEDAR is the one with tends to be mostly used in Spain and in many other countries.

What is the difference?

Let’s look at ENCONTRAR first.  Encontrar literally means ‘to find’. So, imagine that you had lost something and then you found it. You would say:

¡Ya lo he encontrado! = I’ve found it, now.

So, if you were to say:

Ayer encontré a Jorge. 

You would be saying that you literally found Jorge. (You had lost him for some time.)


Now let’s look at ENCONTRARSE. We all know that SE on the end of a verb means ONESELF. So, this verb means to FIND ONESELF.

So, imagine you were to say:

Esta mañana me encontré con Pati. 

You would be saying that you ‘found yourself´ with Pati which in other words would be: “I bumped into”. In this sense, it’s more of a chance meeting than something organised.

The Exception

As always, there are exceptions. For example, if you and a group of people were going on ‘una excursión’ whilst on holiday, you may well hear the guide telling everyone to “encontrarse en la recepción a las nueve.”

We tend to hear this used more in situations like this, and not in the more intimate, meet-up situations that we have with friends and family.


This is an interesting verb and a fairly versatile one at that. Here are some of the uses:

Quedamos en tomar un café a las once de la mañana. = We agreed to to meet up to have a coffee at eleven in the morning.

So here, we see that it can be used (and is used very often) as a way of saying that you are going to meet up, or you did meet up with someone.

¿En que quedamos, entonces? = So, what’s the plan/what are we agreeing to?

When you’re  finalising plans, this is often the question.

No (me) queda mucho. = There’s not much left (for me).

Quedar also means ‘to remain’ So, you can use it to talk about what’s left.


This is used to talk about staying somewhere, like in a hotel or a house.

Me quedé dos noches en la casa de mi amiga. = I stayed in my friend’s house for two nights. 

So, that should give you an overview of these verbs. Now you can join us in the blog to here them explained in more detail and see how we use them.


Gordon y Cynthia

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Early Intermediate Podcast 30 – Spanish Test of Your Listening Skills

Spanish Test.highland-cow scale_1280

We are calling this podcast a Spanish test because it brings together much of what we have covered up to now in the 30 previous podcasts of this level.

If you have been paying attention (which we know you have, jeje) you should be able to follow along with us as we talk about our recent trip up to Scotland and the adventures we got ourselves into.

Personally, however, I (Gordon) would be more than happy for you to NOT hear the last part of the tale that Cynthia tells about when we arrived back from Scotland, cold and weary. It doesn’t make for pretty listening and makes me blush every time!

Some Important Advice.

As you listen to this Spanish test of your listening skills, you may well say to yourself:

I can understand  all of that, and yet, I could never say it like that!

And, of course, you are right. However, you must understand that this is NOT bad news. It doesn’t mean that your Spanish is in ‘problemas’ or that you haven’t been working hard enough.

In fact, you can be happy to know that it’s completely normal. It happens to EVERYONE.

Perhaps you’ve heard us talk about the PARETO rule that can be applied to your Spanish learning.

The rule is that you should be able to understand about 80% of your level and say about 20% of what you can understand.

Compare yourself to a baby.

You can see this 80/20 rule in children all the time. Little toddlers understand much of what you are saying to them. (If they are anything like Sebastián, our two year old son, then many times they choose to completely ignore it!)

Yet, they are not able to say the same words themselves. They say part words, they mispronounce, they point, they scream. In fact, they do anything they can to communicate even when they don’t have the words.

The self same thing applies to you. You are only a short way through your learning journey and so you are like a child that always has better listening abilities than speaking ones.

That doesn’t mean it will always be like that. ¡Qué va! As time progresses, so will your spoken Spanish and the gap will close on your speaking  compared to your understanding.

Let me tell you one thing, however, when I listen in English to a very intelligent speaker, I can understand everything he says, yet I couldn’t speak like he can (nor would I want to sometimes).

Language is like that.

So, enjoy your Spanish test and check to see if I’m right about the 80/20 rule!


Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson