Impersonal statements followed by the infinitive or by the subjunctive with que

An impersonal statement in Spanish, e.g. "Es bueno...", "Es importante..." can be followed by the infinitive or by que with a verb in the subjunctive, and both structures usually convey the same meaning.

Let's see some contrasting examples:

Es bueno ponerse crema solar en verano.
It is good to apply suncream in summer.

Es bueno que la gente se ponga crema solar en verano.
It is good that people apply suncream in summer.

Es importante respetar a los demás.
It is important to respect others.

Es importante que respetes a los demás.
It is important that you (a general you) respect others.

Both versions of the above sentences mean the same.

By using the infinitive we are stating something general. By using que + subjunctive you have to include a subject; this subject could be someone specific, you could even use a subject like "nosotros" or "ellos", but it is nevertheless still referring to a general subject.

What is important is that if you add "que" you must use the subjunctive, not the infinitive or any tense in the indicative.

Here are more examples:

Es obligatorio llevar bañador en esta playa.
It is compulsory to wear a swimming-costume on this beach.

Es obligatorio que todos llevemos bañador en esta playa.
It is compulsory that we all wear a swimming-costume on this beach.

Es necesario comprar todas las bebidas antes de la fiesta.
It is necessary to buy all the drinks before the pary.

Es necesario que compren todas las bebidas antes de la fiesta.
It is necessary that they buy all the drinks before the party.

Exceptions:

For impersonal statements that present something as a truth, a certainty or a fact, the structure with the infinitive doesn't work. These will be followed by que and a verb in the indicative. For example:

Es verdad que tuvieron mucho éxito en la campaña electoral.
It is true that they were very successful in the election campaign.

Es cierto que irán al concierto de Julio Iglesias la semana que viene.
It is certain that they will go to Julio Iglesias's concert next week.

Es un hecho que hay mucha pobreza e injusticia en el mundo.
It is a fact that there is a lot of poverty and injustice in the world.

These sentences would be incorrect if we try to use the infinitive:

Es verdad tener mucho éxito en la campaña electoral.

Es cierto ir al concierto de Julio Iglesias la semana que viene.ña electoral.

Es un hecho haber mucha pobreza e injusticia en el mundo.

See also Using the subjunctive with impersonal expressions

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Es obligatorio llevar bañador en esta playa.
It is compulsory to wear a swimming-costume on this beach.


Es importante respetar a los demás.
It is important to respect others.


Es obligatorio que todos llevemos bañador en esta playa.
It is compulsory that we all wear a swimming-costume on this beach.


Es necesario que compren todas las bebidas antes de la fiesta.
It is necessary that they buy all the drinks before the party.


Es bueno que la gente se ponga crema solar en verano.
It is good that people apply suncream in summer.


Es necesario comprar todas las bebidas antes de la fiesta.
It is necessary to buy all the drinks before the pary.


Es bueno ponerse crema solar en verano.
It is good to apply suncream in summer.


Es importante que respetes a los demás.
It is important that you (a general you) respect others.


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