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El subjuntivo después de  expresiones impersonales

¿Qué es bueno? Es bueno que estudies español, ¿verdad?

¿Qué es necesario?  Es necesario que aprendas a usar el subjuntivo de manera correcta.

¿Qué es malo?  Es malo que el subjuntivo sea tan difícil para los estudiantes norteamericanos.


Answer these questions as you read.  E-mail me your answers.

As we have seen in the previous section of the subjuntivo, it is used in noun clauses after verbal expressions  that place a desire, demand or prohibition; or express some emotion; or cast a doubt on the noun clause.  Along the same lines the subjunctive is used in noun clauses which follow most impersonal expressions.  This is because only a few of them merely make observations.  We're going to make this really simple.

First, What's an impersonal expression?

It's a phrase, often started with Es (Era, Será, Sería, etc.) + an adjective (bueno, malo, necesario, etc.), the English equivalent being "It's...(good, bad, necessary, etc.)

Why are they called "impersonal"?
Because the "it" refers to nothing.  It's impersonal.

How many kinds of impersonal expressions are there?

2.  Dos.  Uno y uno.

First...Impersonal expressions can be general.  That is to say that there is no stated subject for it.  Read these to understand what I mean:

Since these have no stated subject, there is no "trailer hitch"- que; and therefore the clauses are followed by an infinitive.

Or....They can also express a specific subject after it, and this will be a noun clause.

Since there is a stated subject, there is a "que".  The verb in the noun clause must be conjugated.  Now the question is:  Will it be subjunctive or indicative?

90% of the time you will use the subjunctive in a noun clause after an impersonal expression because most of them cast some opinion, emotion, denial, etc. on the noun clause.  Very few of them merely make an observation.  In fact, because there are so few that do not use the subjunctive, we'll look at those first.

DON'T use the subjunctive after these impersonal expressions:  (I've used the present tense in the examples, of course "Es" could change to any tense.) Do you understand why these do not take the subjunctive?  If not, you may want to review ¿Qué es el subjuntivo?

Now let's look at some expressions that do require the subjunctive in the noun clause.
There are also a few of impersonal expressions that require the subjunctive which you need to know that do not begin with "ES".  Here they are: Finally, we must look back to our list of expressions that do not use the subjunctive.  If we make them negative, they'll use the subjunctive.  Can you figure out why?
Reminder:  Notice that all of the preceeding lists had "QUE" in them.  Like the "subjuntivo después de ciertos verbos" lesson, if there is no "QUE", use the infinitive.  These are the general expressions which we started with.

So what are you going to do with this information?
You have to do two things.  First, you have to be able to put the correct form of a verb after an impersonal expression, as you have had to do in noun clauses after certain verbs.  This is good test practice, and you will be tested on this- in class, on SAT II's, on AP exams, in college, and so on.   You will also have to create your own sentences with impersonal expressions.  Remember that the purpose of all of this stuff is to get you to a point of higher mastery in the language.


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