De camino a casa paso por una farmacia que esté abierta y te la compro.

Assuming the person goes by this Pharmacy every day and it is always open at that time I'm perplexed as to why the subjective form or the verb estar is being used.

  • 4
    If you assume that, the sentence is absurd. The sentence means that this person is not thinking about a specific pharmacy; any open one will do.
    – Gorpik
    Jul 31, 2019 at 8:54
  • 4
    If the person knew about this pharmacy in particular, then they would say la farmacia or esa farmacia or refer to it by its name, i.e. they'd point to a definite pharmacy, and they'd then omit the hypothetical que esté abierta.
    – pablodf76
    Jul 31, 2019 at 11:00
  • Pharmacies tend to have a rotating schedule for being open after hours; in some towns, pharmacies are somewhat clustered in a commercial district. The speaker apparently doesn't know yet which pharmacy he will visit. Jul 31, 2019 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


In your example you are talking about a quality or condition of the pharmacy (being open). You could consider that a "hypothetical" condition ("on my way home if I come across an open pharmacy, I'll buy it").

Check this website to learn more about the uses of the subjunctive (when you should use the subjunctive instead of another verb mood)

I quote directly from the site usage and examples:

Para hablar de las características de personas o cosas desconocidas, no concretas, hipotéticas:

  • Quiero comprar un departamento que tenga tres dormitorios.
  • Necesito una secretaria que sepa inglés, alemán, francés y español.
  • Busco amigos que sean sinceros, simpáticos y que hablen español.

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