Aunque + Subjunctive or Indicative

Aunque – do you follow it with the indicative or the subjunctive?
The answer is that ‘both are possible’!  🙂
The regular guidelines for choosing between the indicative and the subjunctive come into play.
Use the indicative when your purpose is to declare something:

Reasons you might want to declare something …
1.  You know a fact but know that your listener doesn’t, so you use the indicative to inform about them it.
2.  For some reason you want to stress the fact in some way.
Use the subjunctive for everything else:
This may include …
1.  When you know a fact but you also know that the listener also knows it.  No point in re-declaring known facts with the indicative.
2.  When you dont know if it’s a fact or not, it’s a hyphothesis.
3.   When it’s definitely not a fact, it’s something that didn’t happen.
4.  Or, when it’s something that might not happen.
Having said all that sometimes it’s as simple as asking – does ‘aunque’ mean ‘even though’ or ‘even if’?
If it means ‘even though’ and a fact is involved or the outcome is known (*and you’re happy to state such a fact), then you follow it with the indicative mood.
Aunque vivimos en la época de la globalización, ……
Even though we live in the age of globalisation, …..
it’s a fact that we live in an age of globalization so ‘vivimos’ is in the indicative mood.
If it means ‘even if’ and a fact is not involved or the outcome is not known, (*or you just don’t want to state it even if it is a fact) then you follow it with the subjunctive.
Aunque la cuenta esté vacía,
Even if the account is empty, ….
We don’t know whether the account is empty or not, so ‘esté’ is in the subjunctive mood.
Given this insight the meaning of a sentence can change depending on whether the indicative or subjunctive is used:
le gusta = indicative
Lo haré aunque no le gusta.
I’ll do it, even though he doesn’t like it.
It’s clear here that it’s a fact that he doesn’t like it, whatever it is.
le guste – subjunctive
Lo haré aunque no le guste.
I’ll do it, even though he may not like it.
Here we don’t know if he likes it or not.
Use the subjuntive to make your speech less accusatory:
*  Sometimes, we might know that something is a fact, but we might not want to stress that point, or we might want to soften what we say instead of stating something categorically.  In these cases also, the subjunctive can be used:

Although you may have (have) been many times, go with your friends now

Aunque hayas ido muchas veces, ve con tus amigos ahora.

It may well be a fact that the person had been many times before but we can use the subjunctive to express the equivalent of the English ‘may’ which makes our tone softer and less accusatory.




So are there any rules?

Just the usual one when it comes to the use of the subjunctive:  it’s  for anticipated, hypothetical, or irrelevant circumstances – those not yet known or for those already known by both the speaker and the listener.

And remember that the indicative follows aunque when your purpose is to declare facts – this will include actions in the past or in progress, or for habits.



Click here for an exercise using ‘aunque’.

What did you think of this lesson? Was it helpful? Do you have any questions?  Would you like some more examples?  Did you spot an error? Have your say here we’d love to hear from you.