As opposed to the Indicative, the Subjunctive indicates an idea or an abstraction, something without certain reality. The Subjunctive is used mainly in subordinate clauses to indicate what is--in some sense--an unreality: it might express an action which has yet to occur and which might not occur, or an emotion felt in the fuzzy realms of the heart rather than the clear-cut head. The Subjunctive may also be used as a main verb when expressing a command or a possibility (both of which are uncertain since they have not yet been completed, as befits the nature of the Subjunctive). The Subjunctive naturally looks toward the future in all of its tenses, and so it exists only in the present, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect.

For a full conjugation of the subjunctive, go to the conjugations page.

A helpful mnemonic for remembering the vowels of the Present Subjunctive is Let's eat caviar, where the first vowel grouping "e" corresponds to the 1st conjugation present subjunctive (amem), the second "ea" to the 2nd conjugation (videam), the third "a" to the 3rd conjugation (regam), and the fourth "ia" to the 3rd io and 4th conjugations (capia, audiam). Let's eat caviar has the added advantage of illustrating the translation of the hortatory/jussive/volitive subjunctive.

Uses of the Subjunctive
Main Verb Clauses
Potential Subj.
Optative Subj.
Volitive Subj.
      Hortatory Subj.
      Jussive Subj.
      Prohibitive Subj.
      Concessive Subj.
      Deliberative Subj.

Purpose Clause
Relative Clause of Characteristic
Result Clause
Fear Clause
Causal Clause
Cum Temporal
Dum Clause
Substantive Clause
      Volitive Subst. Clause/Indirect Imperatives
      Optative Subst. Clause
      Result Subst. Clause
      Quin Subst. Clause
      Indirect Questions
Adversitive Clause
Subj. by Attraction
Logical Conditions
Ideal Conditions
      Future Less Vivid
Unreal Conditions
      Present Contrary to Fact
      Past Contrary to Fact
General Conditions
      Present General
      Past General
Condition of Comparision
Sequence of Tenses