I'm studying the subjunctive mood, and I generally understand it, I just think not all of the sentences require it, examples (the first sentences in each pair are the correct ones according to the book, the second ones are my imagination):

1 Déjame que pague
Déjame pagar.

2 Lo mejor es que esperemos.
Lo mejor es esperar.

3 Os aconsejo que os pongáis un abrigo.
Os aconsejo poneros un abrigo.

4 Nos han aconsejado que vayamos en el avión.
Nos han aconsejado ir en el avión.

5 ¿Me permites que te dé un consejo?
¿Me permites darte un consejo?

6 Disculpa que no me levante, no me siento bien.
Disculpa no levantarme...

7 Deja que te explique.
Déjame explicarte.

8 ¿Me permites que te haga una pregunta?
¿Me permites hacerte una pregunta?

9 Permítame que le recomiende la carne.
Permítame recomendarle la carne.

10 Siempre haces que llegue tarde.
Siempre me haces llegar tarde.

Basically, all of the sentences have all what's needed for the use of subjunctive: they have the 'triggers' (my term) like 'recomendar', 'permitir', 'dejar', 'ser mejor' etc. and the first part and the second have different subjects ((Tú) déjame que paga (yo)). However, the second sentences also sound correct to me, and are sometimes much easier.

Are the second sentences in each pair correct/acceptable, and if so, what makes them so, even though they do meet all the subjunctive mood criteria? For example:

11 Te ruego que no grites.
Te ruego no gritar.

the second sentence does not sound correct to me at all (but maybe it is correct?).

  • I made some edits. I'm sure someone will give an answer. So far, all the written expressions work, and I'd say that the difference is almost zero.
    – Schwale
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:47
  • 1
    You can use the verb in the infinitive form when the subject of both the main clause and the subordinate one are the same, or when there's is a pronoun in the main clause that agrees with the subject of the subordinate clause. Note how the addition of the pronoun in your last example (siempre me haces llegar tarde) is obligatory for the sentence with the infinitive verb to be grammatical. If the aforementioned conditions are fulfilled there's little to no difference between using the subjunctive and the infinitive in the subordinate clause.
    – Yay
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 11:56
  • Ps. I believe a similar question has already been asked before on this site. If I can't find it I'll post my previous comment as an answer.
    – Yay
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 11:57
  • @yay: "when there's is a pronoun in the main clause that agrees with the subject of the subordinate clause" - this is a rule I can easily understand, thanks!
    – wujek
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 12:03

4 Answers 4


Déjame pagar vs Deja que pague yo

Both forms are correct and that goes for all the examples you put on your question.

The key is all of these examples are subordinate sentences. You are looking at a structure called oraciones subordinadas sustantivas de infinitivo. Realize that one of the funtions of que is introducing a subordinate sentence, so what comes after "que" is a subordinate sentence, but in the "equivalent" sentence of each example you have a subordinate sentnece as well, with a subordinada sustantiva (this sentence uses an infinitive as a "noun").

Some examples

  • Me encanta que me llame > Subordinada sustantiva en función de sujeto.

  • Me preguntó qué hacía aquí > Subordinada sustantiva en función de complemento directo.

  • Los que lleguen tarde no entrarán en clase > Subordinada adjetiva sustantivada en función de sujeto.

  • Me desagrada ir al dentista > Subordinada sustantiva en función de sujeto.

Source (and to learn more): Subordinadas sustantivas de infinitivo

This last case is the want that may interest you the most for this case: a subordinate sentence acting as a noun through a verb in infinitive. For example

Me gusta comer despacio

In this case the subordinate sentence is introduced by a verb in infinitive ("comer despacio" is what I like).

Now, for all the above to really make sense and answer your question, we need to add a "que" in that subordinate sentence, like

Dice tener razón; Dice que tiene razón

Here "tener razón" is a subordinate sentence with an infinitive, just like in the previous example ("tener razón" is what (s)he says or claims). But you can express the same with a subordinate sentence being introduce by a "que". In this case the verb is not an infinitive but subjuntivo.

To formally answer your question both "Déjame pagar" and "Deja que pague yo" are correct and equivalent because in both cases you have a subordinate sentence. In one case introduced by que + subjuntivo and in the other a "oración subordinada sustantiva de infinitivo".

Of course, that is the general rule, and some of the examples can be more intrincate, like

Deja que te explique. vs Déjame explicarte

In this case is clear to see the subordinate introduce by que, but for the subordinada sustantiva de infinitivo things get more complex, since you need to use the pronouns. There is nothing exceptional. Some verbs are going to require a direct or indirect complement and you'll have to dela with pronouns. That same example could have been

Dejame que te lo explique. vs Déjame explicartelo


All the pairs of examples you cited are correct, except maybe Disculpa no levantarme, which sounds ungrammatical to me (though Discúlpame por no levantarme is fine).

Also, in one of the pairs there might be a slight difference in meaning: Lo mejor es que esperemos clearly suggests that it's better for us, now, to wait a while; while Lo mejor es esperar is more like a general statement (it's better to wait). Context will surely render this difference meaningless in actual use.

(Interestingly, while Spanish has this "problem" with infinitives erasing referents, closely related Portuguese can attach personal endings to infinitives, and is also quite fond of substituting infinitives for subjunctive phrases where Spanish would only admit the latter.)

The infinitive (by its nature) doesn't refer to any temporal frame. So both the following examples...

Disculpa que no me levante. (The speaker will not get up.)
Disculpa que no me haya levantado. (The speaker has failed to get up.)

... will be rendered the same: Discúlpame por no levantarme.

There are also minor differences in tone. Te pido que no me grites is more colloquial than Te pido no gritarme; the latter might actually sound weird to some people.

All of the above is me trying to find a reason for the alternative forms you have noticed, but once again note that the real differences are very slight, if anything. In most cases you can go with either type of phrase and you'll be OK.


I agree with the answers provided so far; however, I wanted to highlight one point I think is key—the presence of a pronoun in the main clause that "marks", or agrees with, the subject of the subordinate clause. If there is a pronoun, you can use the infinitive or the subordinate form of the verb more or less interchangeably; if there is no such pronoun, you need a subjunctive:

Siempre haces que llegue tarde.
Siempre me haces llegar tarde.
Siempre haces llegar tarde.

When the subject of the subordinate clause is generic or unspecified, you don't need a pronun:

"Cruz Roja recomienda tener botiquín de primero auxilios en este regreso a clases."


The three answers given so far are quite edifying and deserve upvotes, in my opinion. But I think you were at least partially asking something else, so I'm going to write a supplemental answer.

I learned Spanish as second language (as a young adult) and if I put myself in your shoes, at your stage of learning, I think what you are trying to figure out is, why is the subjunctive needed in these examples? I can imagine that at your stage, constructing the subjunctive version is a bit more work than expressing the idea in the non-subjunctive form.

It turns out that in all the examples you gave, the non-subjunctive version would be fine. Astute of you to notice this! However, there are situations where you really don't have two choices. Consider:

Quiero que dejes de hacer tanto ruido.

Here, I can't convert the sentence in the same way you converted your examples.

I don't know the book you're working with, but perhaps it is a small flaw in their presentation, to omit examples that only work with the subjunctive approach; or perhaps a couple of lessons down the line they will get to that.

  • I'm using 'Gramática de uso del Español C1-C2' and it does include examples which only work with the subjunctive, that's what made is even more confusing - why certain sentences sound weird without subjunctive whereas others do not, which was not logical to me. The other answers here fill in the void, but maybe so does the book later on, I don't know yet.
    – wujek
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 18:37

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