Use of subjunctive present: (lo que) + (subjunctive)

lo que subjunctive spanish

Lo que + subjuntivo is one of the most common structures in Spanish. The use of the presente subjuntivo helps Spanish speakers express their thoughts in the present and the future. The structure Lo que + subjuntivo generally refers to when someone ask a person what they want. There are many other uses but that’s the most popular. Lo que + subjuntivo if also often used with the verbs querer and apetecer. It’s because those verbs can help the speaker express their desires.


Since most Spanish students find it difficult to build sentences using el subjuntivo or structures like lo que + subjuntivo, today we will show you how to do it. At the end of this article, you’ll able to build sentences using lo que + subjuntivo and make use of verbs like querer and apetecer in el subjuntivo. Then, if you’re looking to improve your Spanish level, keep reading.


Uses of el presente subjuntivo


At this point, you probably know how to use el subjuntivo. However, most Spanish students struggle when using it and, for that reason, we are going to refresh your mind. In most cases, Spanish speakers use el subjuntivo to express probabilities or doubts. Above all, there are three ways to express probabilities or doubts, in the indicative, in the presente subjuntivo or both.


When expression probabilities or doubts, everything will depend on what you want to say with it. But, in general terms, you can use the subjunctive for the most unlikely cases and the indicative for the most likely. For example,


Me imagino que comeré contigo la semana que viene.

I imagine I’ll have lunch with you next week.


Dudo que Carla llegue tarde a la reunión.

I doubt that Carla will be late for the meeting.


Another use of el subjuntivo is when you want to express a purpose. For example,


Él estudia con el objetivo de que le apruebes.

He studies with the aim that you pass him.


It’s pretty common to use el subjuntivo in compound sentences. Then, it’s not surprising to see different combinations with el subjuntivo, el indicativo, and connects. If you want to use el subjuntivo for requests, mandates, or tips, the following formula is the most common.


Indicative + que + subjuntivo.


For example,


Te digo que cometes un error al irte con él. / I’m telling you, you’re making a mistake leaving with him.


El subjuntivo helps you express what’s subjective. Then, you can use it to talk about wishes, feelings, or likes. For example,


Deseo que vayas al cine a ver el estreno de Avengers. / I want you to go to the movies to see the premiere of Avengers.


Ojalá que comas una buena pizza mañana. / I hope you eat a good pizza tomorrow.


Finally, you can use el subjuntivo to talk about the future. In this context, it’s necessary to use el indicativo. For example,


Tan pronto como hagas tus deberes, iremos al centro comercial. / As soon as you do your homework, we’ll go to the mall.


Please note that even though in the example above we are not using “si” as a conditional connector, it’s still a conditional statement.



How to use lo que + subjuntivo


In most cases, the use of the subjunctive after the expression “lo que” does not depend on it. Instead, it depends on the sentence or the term that goes before lo que, or also, on the intention of the speaker. The formula to build sentences in this case is, generally, the following.


Subordinate sentence (indicative/subjuntive) + lo que+ subjuntive


Please note that this structure is often used with compound sentences. Still, you can also use it with simple sentences. Here are some examples,


Si Paola toma el ejemplo de su abuela, todo lo que haga  será un éxito.

If Paola takes her grandmother’s example, everything she does will be a success.


Me dice que haga lo que quiera, que confía en que yo tomaré la mejor decisión.

He tells me to do what he wants, that he trusts me to make the best decision.


Haremos lo que tengamos que hacer para lograr un buen resultado.

We will do what we have to do to achieve a good result.


In the second example above, we are using the following formula:


Subjuntivo + lo que + subjuntivo


Even though it is possible, building sentences that way is a bit more complicated and not so often. If you visit LATAM, you probably won’t see or hear that structure in daily conversations. But, in you visit Spain, things are different and you will hear them with a higher frequency. Let’s see a few more examples to provide you with a better idea.


Sea lo que fuere que haya pasado, ya no importa.

Whatever happened, it doesn’t matter anymore.


Cueste lo que costare lo iba a comprar, era necesario para su salud.

Whatever it cost, he was going to buy it, it was necessary for her health.


Diga lo que diga no le vayas a creer, es un mentiroso y está estafando a mucha gente. Whatever he says, don’t believe him, he’s a liar and he’s scamming a lot of people.


As we said, using the indicative or subjunctive before the structure “lo que” will depend on what the speaker wants to express. However, using the subjuntive sometimes before “lo que” sometimes make sentences more complicated and less easier to understand.


Lo que quieras vs lo que te apetezca


The phrases lo que quieras and lo que te apetezca are made up of the expression lo que + el subjuntivo. These two phrases are also the translation for the phrase in English whatever you want.


When we talk about lo que quieras, it means that we are sending, or telling the other person to do what they think is best or what they want to do. In the case of lo que te apetezca is very similar. It is what we say to the other person so that they decide what they want to do. During formal situations, it’s better to use lo que te apetezca instead of lo que quieres. After all, in some situations, lo que quieras might sound a bit rude. Let’s have look at the examples below.


Lo que quieras decidir está bien, recuerda que tu eres dueña de tu vida.

What you want to decide is fine, remember that you are the owner of your life.


Elige lo que más te apetezca comer, no tengas pena.

Choose what you most want to eat, do not be embarrassed.


Haz lo que quieras hacer, de todos modos ya no me importa!

Do what you want to do, I don’t care anymore anyway!


Generally speaking, Lo que + subjuntivo is indeed a popular and useful structure. Nonetheless, when using verbs like querer or apatecer to form expressions like “Lo que quieras” or “Lo que te apetezca” you must be careful. Depending on the situation, one will be better than the other one. Also, depending on your tone of speaking, their meanings might change and sometimes may be “rude”. Keep in mind that “lo que apetezca” will always be a better alternative during formal conversations.






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