I'm struggling a little with this kind of sentences:

Você quer que eu te ligue?

Why is there the necessity of the conjuntivo? Do you have an external resource about the conjuntivo where I can inform myself about its usage?

1 Answer 1


A verb in conjuntivo or subjuntivo (I think subjuntivo is the preferred name in Brazil) mood indicates that the action described by the verb may or may not happen. Take the following examples:

(1) Ele liga-te.

(2) Eu quero que ele te ligue.

(1) expresses a fact, so we use the indicative ele liga. But in (2) it is not a fact that he will actually going to ligar; the sentence just says that I want him to. So we use the conjuntivo ele ligue. It is not because of que (by the way, in that sentence, que is a conjunction, not a pronoun): it is because the eu quero shows that ligar is just my wish, it is not guaranteed to happen.

This use of the conjuntivo/subjuntivo has parallels in the use of subjunctive in English, especially US English. Comapare:

Eu sugiro/peço/insisto que ele seja pontual — I suggest/ask/insist that he be punctual.

Again, just because I suggest or insist that he be punctual that does not mean he is actually going to be punctual.

Other examples where the conjuntivo expresses wish, desire, hope, command, requirement, request, need, advice:

Eu quero/desejo/espero que tu lhe ligues.

Eu ordeno/exijo/mando que tu lhe ligues.

O sucesso do empreendimento requer/exige que todos trabalhem.

Ele pede/suplica/implora que tu lhe ligues.

Eu preciso/necessito que tu me ligues.

Eu recomendo/aconselho que tu me ligues.

É desejável/importante/essencial/imperativo que tu me ligues.

The conjuntivo is not used only for resquest, advices, etc... It may simple express doubt or uncertainty.

Duvido que ele te ligue

Não creio/acho/acredito que ele te ligue.

É possível/natural/impensável/incerto que ele te ligue.

And it can be used without the preceding que

Talvez ele te ligue.

Now verbs like pensar, julgar, supor, etc... can be followed by que + presente do indicativo or que + conjuntivo. The latter expresses a higher degree of uncertainty. So if you say:

Penso que ele está em casa

you sound more confident of his being at home than if you say

Penso que ele esteja em casa.

If you have verb in pretérito imperfeito or condicinal + que then you use the pretérito imperfeito do conjuntivo:

Ele queria/desejava/desejaria/esperaria que tu lhe ligasses.

Ele exigiria/ordenaria que tu lhe ligasses.

Eu gostaria que tu me ligasses.

Seria desejável que tu lhe ligasses.

The relative pronoun que may be followed by indicative or subjunctive depending on what you mean. Compare:

(3) O homem que ligou ontem está aqui.

(4) Diz a qualquer pessoa que ligue que eu não estou.

In example (3) a man has in fact called, so we use the inidicative homem que ligou; in (4) people may or may not call, so we use the subjunctive pessoa que ligue.

And here is the subjunctive-rich O dia em que nasci, moura e pereça.

I hope this helps

  • Wow, that's a very comprehensive and clear answer. Thank you so much.
    – user430
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:28
  • Glad you like it. I'll add a little something about relative pronouns after lunch. They can be followed by the subjunctive too.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:34

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