Express the intention. Uses of the Subjunctive (I)

Uses of subjunctive in Spanish

It is all about the intention.

We know that the Indicative expresses a statement about a fact (affirm or suppose), while subjunctive expresses a virtual idea, something that we can't or don't want to express as a fact.

So, in this realm of the not real, not tangible, not facts, we have the intentions

An intention is something we want, we aim at, we desire but it is not real, tangible or a fact yet. It lives in our mind or in our heart. For these ideas that live in our mind but we want to materialise into reality, we use subjunctive.

Have a look at this example:

  • Juan quiere que vengas(Juan wants you to come).

You coming is not a reality yet, is something in Juan's heart. It is his desire, therefore we use subjunctive. 

We also know that after "querer que" we always use subjunctive, so this is an easy one. 

But, what do we do with a construction like "decir que"? Do we use subjunctive by default? Do we use indicative? 

Well, it depends. It depends on what we want to say, in our intention.

Look at these examples:

Decir que

  • Mi madre dice que soy buena.
  • Mi madre dice que sea buena.

Both are correct but one goes with indicative and the other with subjunctive. And why the hell is that????

In the first one, the mum is stating a fact. She is saying that I am a good girl.

My mum says that I am good.

Whereas in the second one, she is saying that I have to be a good girl.

My mum tells me to be good.

See? The intention is what changes everything. To express the fact (the reality of me being a good girl) we use indicative. To express her desire for me to be good (it's not real yet, it's only a desire in her mind) we use subjunctive.

And, what do we do in questions? We use indicative because we are asking about a fact.

  • Declarar (to state): Digo que eres valiente.
  • Preguntar (to ask for information): Digo que si eres valiente.
  • Pedir (to demand): Digo que seas valiente.

I wrote a bit already about the uses of Indicative and Subjunctive. You can watch the video here

Spanish Comics for Spanish Learners

Have you ever considered comics to improve or learn Spanish?

Well, let me tell you if you haven't, you should. Comics are a great way to access any language because they don't have much text or long sentences and they show the current spoken language.

History of the comic in Spain

The history of the comic in Spain could date back to the XIII century depending on what we consider comic or the Spanish equivalent word: "historieta" (comic strip, cartoon).

Some people would consider the Cantigas de Santa María,  the first comic manifestation as they are an ingenious combination of words, music, and visual art. The are a collection of over four hundred sacred Galician-Portuguese songs composed, according to tradition, by Alfonso X, known as “El Sabio,” King of Castile and León (1252–1284). The Cantigas de Santa María is a monumental achievement in vernacular lyric and book art.

They look like a very old comic, don't they?

But some others believe that the comic or historieta is the cultural product of the modern industrial era and the occidental politics. They affirm that comic was born and evolved in parallel to the written press as the first means of communication to the masses. This is why those search for the first comic manifestation in the press.

So, the first historieta in the Spanish press was by the Spaniard, settled in Cuba, Victor Patricio Landaluze and his "Historia de las desgracias de un hombre afortunado" (1857).

At the beginning of the XX century we have the appearance of children's magazines where we can highlight the magazine TBO (1917), which the one which became so mainstream that ended giving the name to that medium in Spain (el tebeo: 'comic' or 'comic book').

There was the adventure comic (tebeo de aventuras) inspired in the American comic and Hollywood movies, like Chicos.

Around that time, the comic book (cuaderno de aventuras) appeared with the famous "Roberto Alcázar y Pedrin" o "El guerrero del antifaz".

During the post-war period (Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939) comic becomes the most popular medium in the country enjoying its golden age.

It was a cheap read that was consumed by the popular classes and the member of those popular classes would be the ones who would become the professionals of the comics in the following years.


Regarding the humoristic comic (tebeo humorístico) we have to mention "Pulgarcito", "Jaimito" and authors like Escobar, Enrich o Ibáñez.


All of them are members of the "Escuela Bruguera" which reflects the reality of the country through a nonsensical, exaggerated and grotesque filter (filtro esperpéntico). 

The comic for adults experienced a boom from 1967 until 1986 with terror comic, satire and underground comix. We see protest and a cultural rethink.

The moment of highest splendour will happen after Franco's death which will see the birth of magazines like "El Jueves".

New illustrators will gain success and comics like Paracuellos, Makinavaja or Superlópez will remain in the history of the comic in Spain. 

Comic in Spain today

The comic industry is still quite small in Spain compared with the leadership in Europe of the Franco-Belge comic and the Japanese and North American.

Even though the readers still prefer to read the translations of the Marvel comics or other international publications, the Spanish illustrators are making the most of Internet by using social media, blogs and Tumblr as a way to find their audience.

Some of them have crossed national frontiers and occupy the international stage. To mention just three:

David Aja is a Spanish comic book artist, best known for his work on The Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye

Winner of the Eisner Award in 2013 as the "Best Penciller/Inker," and "Best Cover Artist"  and also in 2014 "Best Cover Artist." Hawkeye #11, by Matt Fraction and Aja, won "Best Single Issue (Or One Shot)". 

Ana Galvañ

Emma Rios is a Spanish comics artist, writer, and editor with an international presence in the comics industry. She has worked for some of the largest American comics publishers, including Marvel.

Currently, she is working on several ongoing titles: Mirror with Malaysian artist Hwei Lim and Pretty Deadly with American writer Kelly Sue Deconnick. The latter of which earned Ríos an Eisner award nomination for "Best Penciller/Inker/Artist", her second.

Ana Galvañ is an illustrator and a comic creator.

Her work has appeared in publications coordinated by Fantagraphics, Nobrow, Ultrarradio, Vertigo DC, Off Life, Autsáider, Apa-Apa, Fosfatina and Tik Tok. She was also a participant in Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK #4: Black.

Recently, she has published the fanzine Más allá del arco Iris [Beyond the rainbow] and Luz Verdadera [True Light]. 

Is comic art?

Is comic art or is it literature? Is it both or none of them? 

There is a combination of a script and image that makes it difficult to pinpoint, but also makes it obvious to place it as an art manifestation.

Let's discuss: What is art?

I invite you to a free group call on the 17th January 2018 at 5pm (GMT) / 12pm (EST) / 9am (PST).  RSVP by clicking in the button below if you are interested in participate in this free group call.

International celebrities who speak Spanish

Many are the celebrities of Spanish or Hispanic origin, so it’s only natural that they are fluent in Spanish, but not only native Spanish speakers celebrities are the only ones who speak Spanish. ¡No señor!

There are also many others who have learned the language of Cervantes. Let’s see some names:

Viggo Mortensen

Probably one of my favourite names of this list (and one of the most attractive actors this world has gifted to us) is Viggo Mortensen.

Viggo is a Danish-American actor, author, musician, photographer, poet and painter.

Born in New York, the family moved to Venezuela, then Denmark, and eventually settled in Argentina where he attended primary school and acquired a fluent proficiency in Spanish. He then attended university in New York, earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Studies and Politics in 1980.

Afterward, he went to Europe and lived in Spain among other countries.

In 2006, he starred as Captain Diego Alatriste in the Spanish language film Alatriste, based on the series of novels The Adventures of Captain Alatriste, written by the Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

Watch here his interview (in Spanish of course) about the recent movie Captain Fantastic:

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth is an American actress, singer, and food writer, who is also a fluent Spanish speaker.

Paltrow  is an “adopted daughter” of Talavera de la Reina (Spain), where at 15, she spent a year as an exchange student and learned to speak Spanish. She continues to regularly visit the town and her host family.

Watch her interview explaining how she learned her Spanish:

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer.

When Affleck was 13, he filmed a children’s television program in Mexico and learned to speak Spanish during a year spent traveling around the country with his mother and brother. He spent a few months studying Spanish at the University.

You can hear him answering some questions in Spanish in this interview:

Kobe Bryant

Kobe is an American retired professional basketball player and businessman. He played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. Great career but what I personally find more interesting (Spanish teacher bias, probably) is that the Los Angeles Lakers player is fluent in Spanish. He learned the language while traveling with his father as a young child.

He’s Spanish speaking skills are actually pretty good. Listen to this interview in Spanish:

Matt Damon

Matt is not only married to a Spanish-speaking Argentine lady, he is also highly proficient in the language. The actor studied Spanish through an immersion program in Mexico and later put those skills to use as he backpacked through Mexico and Guatemala.

Sure, he is not fluent but he does string sentences correctly… slowly but surely!

David Beckham

David Beckham is an English former professional footballer. This futbol star learned Spanish while playing for Real Madrid.

Watch him saying goodbye to the Real Madrid.

They all speak Spanish. And traveling, working and love are the main reasons why they learned. Those are also the reasons why most of us also catch the language bug.

What are yours?

Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear why you started to learn Spanish.

Vocabulary of the Senses


As we advance in the journey of learning Spanish and we deepen in the Spanish language, we need resources to express with more and more detail our emotions, our surroundings, our views… These resources for advanced Spanish are at our disposal in books. Literature tends to be very descriptive because the goal is to drag the reader in the story with expressions that he or she can understand and identify with.

Descriptive vocabulary becomes essential to explain in depth, facilitates understanding and to make our audience relate with our words.

The best way to illustrate an emotion, a situation or a feeling is by the means of the senses. So, in this post and video (above) we are going to deal with this topic. How to thoroughly describe a situation or a feeling by resorting to our senses, the sense in our body.

Watch the video to find the vocabulary and resources in Spanish and if you feel so inclined, do the activities suggested in the second half of the video. You can post your answers for correction in our private Facebook group for upper-intermediate and advanced students of Spanish called Compass Spanish – The Experience, just request access and start interacting with us. I correct everything that is posted in the group, pinky promise!

→→→ Download the slides from the video here.