We use an impersonal expression to convey personal information and ideas without making anyone person the owner. The Spanish impersonal expression acts as the main clause of the sentence and is joined to the thoughts you want to relate by «que» (that). When this expression shows wishing, uncertainty, need, emotion, and so on, it requires the subjunctive in the dependent clause that follows.
Many (although not all) impersonal expressions begin with «es (it is)» and are followed by adjectives showing wishing, emotion, doubt, need, and so on. They require the subjunctive even if they’re negated:
No es urgente que me telefonee. (It isn’t urgent that you call me.)
List of Spanish impersonal expressions with a subjunctive
The following table lists some of the most common Spanish impersonal expressions that require the subjunctive:
- es conviene que (it is advisable that)
- es absurdo que (it is absurd that)
- es asombroso que (it is amazing that)
- es bueno que (it is good/nice that)
- es conveniente que (it is fitting that)
- es curioso que (it is curious that)
- es difícil que (it is difficult that)
- es dudoso que (it is doubtful that)
- es esencial que (it is essential that)
- es extraño que (it is strange that)
- es fácil que (it is easy that)
- es importante que (it is important that)
- es imposible que (it is impossible that)
- es increíble que (it is incredible that)
- es injusto que (it is unfair that)
- es interesante que (it is interesting that)
- es irónico que (it is ironic that)
- es justo que (it is fair that)
- es lamentable que (it is regrettable that)
- es malo que (it is bad that)
- es mejor que, más vale que (it is better that)
- es natural que (it is natural that)
- es necesario que, es preciso que (it is necessary that)
- es posible que (it is possible that)
- es preferible que (it is preferable that)
- es probable que (it is probable that)
- es raro que (it is rare that)
- es sorprendente que (it is surprising that)
- es suficiente que (it is enough that)
- es una lástima que (it is a pity that)
- es urgente que (it is urgent that)
- es útil que (it is useful that)
- parece mentira que (it seems untrue that)
Here are some examples that show how an impersonal expression can communicate a very personal thought, feeling, or opinion:
Es sorprendente que este político sea tan irresponsable. (It is surprising that this politician is so irresponsible.)
Es injusto que estas personas no puedan votar. (It is unfair that these people can’t vote.
But also you must notice the difference:
Es útil que aprendas idiomas (It is useful that you learn languages).
Es útil aprender idiomas (It is useful to learn languages – for everybody).
Es importante que comamos más verduras (It is important that we eat more vegetables).
Es importante comer verduras (It is important to eat vegetables – for everybody).
Expressions showing certainty
Be careful! When impersonal expressions show certainty. In this case, we must use the indicative (present, past, or future) with affirmative sentences. However, when they express negation a subjunctive will be needed:
Es obvio que nuestros precios son competitivos. (It is obvious that our prices are competitive.)
No es obvio que Ud. tenga razón. (It is not obvious that you are right.)
Es cierto que el avión Fernando y Marta se van a divorciar. (It is certain that Fernando y Marta they are going to divorce.)
No es cierto que Fernando y Marta se vayan a divorciar. (It is uncertain that Fernando y Marta they are going to divorce.)
The following table lists some of the most common Spanish impersonal expressions that express certainty and work as seen above.
- es cierto (it is certain, it is sure)
- es claro (it is clear)
- es evidente (it is evident)
- es exacto (it is exact)
- es obvio (it is obvious)
- es seguro (it is sure)
- es verdad (it is true)
- parece (it seems)
Learn more about how to express uncertainty with indicative and subjunctive.
Impersonal expressions worksheet
On the right you have a worksheet that summarizes all the expressions above, leave us a message if you want us to send you a copy in pdf by email.
Now it is time you practice everything you have learned with the quizzes below. Remember to contact your tutor if you have any questions. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet? If you want to learn more about the subjunctive try our Grammar Workshop.