Spanish Grammar: Employing impersonal expressions (B1)

We use an impersonal expression to convey personal information and ideas without making any one person the owner. The 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.)

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.)

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)

 

Now, let’s practice with our quizzes,    you can also learn how to express doubts or uncertainty.   Finally, remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?

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