Using El Subjuntivo or El Indicativo after tal vez and quizás to express doubt

We use the words tal vez, quizás or quizá followed by indicative or subjunctive to express probability or doubt. (I/you may or might... etc or It is possible that...).

If the probability/doubt is related to a present or future situation, you will find El Presente de Indicativo or El Presente de Subjuntivo

See and listen to the following examples:

No sé qué me pasa; quizás estoy un poco nervioso.
I don't know what is wrong with me; I may be a bit nervous.

No sé qué me pasa; quizás esté un poco nervioso.
I don't know what is wrong with me; I may be a bit nervous.

Tal vez voy al concierto esta noche.
I might go to the concert tonight.

Tal vez vaya al concierto esta noche.
I might go to the concert tonight.

If the probability/doubt is related to a past situation, you will find past tenses both in the indicative and the subjunctive.

See and listen to the folowing examples:

Quizá Miguel no aprobó.
Miguel may not have passed.

Quizá Miguel no aprobara.
Miguel may not have passed.

Quizá Miguel no ha aprobado.
Miguel may not have passed.

Quizá Miguel no haya aprobado.
Miguel may not have passed.

ATTENTION: The words tal vez, quizás and quizá may be placed at the end of the sentence as well, but, if that is the case, it will not accept the subjunctive mood, only the indicative.

Miguel no haya aprobado tal vez.

Miguel no ha aprobado tal vez.

Here are more examples:

Tal vez vaya a la playa mañana.
I may go to the beach tomorrow.

Tal vez tengas la gripe.
You may have the flu.

Quizás vuelva algún día.
She/he may come back one day.

Quizás lleguemos tarde.
We might be late.

Tal vez seáis felices algún día.
You may be happy one day.

Tal vez quieran cenar tarde.
They may want to have dinner late.

Quizás el vuelo se retrasó.
The flight may have been delayed.

Tal vez los niños no fueron al colegio.
The children may have not gone to school.

Both with the indicative and the subjunctive the intensity of probability or doubt is the same, so they are interchangeable.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Tal vez vaya a la playa mañana.
I may go to the beach tomorrow.


Tal vez vaya al concierto esta noche.
I might go to the concert tonight.


Quizás vuelva algún día.
She/he may come back one day.


Quizás el vuelo se retrasó.
The flight may have been delayed.


Quizá Miguel no aprobara.
Miguel may not have passed.


Tal vez seáis felices algún día.
You may be happy one day.


No sé qué me pasa; quizás esté un poco nervioso.
I don't know what is wrong with me; I may be a bit nervous.


Tal vez tengas la gripe.
You may have the flu.


Quizá Miguel no aprobó.
Miguel may not have passed.


Tal vez los niños no fueron al colegio.
The children may have not gone to school.


Tal vez voy al concierto esta noche.
I might go to the concert tonight.


Tal vez quieran cenar tarde.
They may want to have dinner late.


Quizá Miguel no haya aprobado.
Miguel may not have passed.


No sé qué me pasa; quizás estoy un poco nervioso.
I don't know what is wrong with me; I may be a bit nervous.


Quizás lleguemos tarde.
We might be late.


Quizá Miguel no ha aprobado.
Miguel may not have passed.


Q&A

K

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

2 replies

I see that your tip says that the degree of probability is the same for indicative and subjunctive. Thst they are interchangeable.

I had never heard that before.So, I can retract my question. 

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Hola K, I have just answered to your previous question, again as I already said, this lesson is really an exceptional case where both moods are interchangeable without a change of certainty. ¡Hasta pronto! Silvia

K

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Thank you. 

K

Kwiziq community member

4 April 2018

1 reply

With “No estoy segura pero tal vez __ un coche nuevo” both compramos and compremos are considered correct.

There seems to be a lot of doubt in this sentence. What would trigger only the subjunctive?

Thank you. K

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

4 April 2018

4/04/18

Hola K!


The lesson you are talking about refers to the usage of El Subjuntivo and El Indicativo with "tal vez" and "quizás". As explained in the lesson, these two expressions can be followed by both moods and the intensity of probability or doubt is the same, so they are interchangeable without a change of certainty. There are few cases where we can accept both moods without a change of certainty so this lesson is really an exceptional case. However, as you already may know, other expressions only accept the subjunctive or indicative and the nuances are "evident". To be honest with you, there is no 100% accurate rule about how to use these moods all the time, obviously we tend to use the subjunctive when we want to express more uncertainty or doubt. We are planning to do some study lists with expressions followed by indicative and/or subjunctive in order to help students to put some more light on this. Thank you very much for your contribution! Silvia.

Clever stuff underway!