Using the imperfect subjunctive after the conjunction como si (subordinate manner clauses)

In Spanish the conjunction como si (as if/like) is used to form subordinate clauses. These clauses express the way something is done. It is always followed by the subjunctive. In this lesson we will explain how it works with El Imperfecto Subjuntivo.

Have a look and listen to the following examples:

Pedro se comporta como si fuera un adolescente.Pedro behaves as if he were a teenager.

Me habla como si quisiera convencerme.He talks to me as if he wanted to convince me.

Nos trataron como si fuésemos delincuentes.They treated us as if we were criminals.

Notice how the subordinate clause introduced by como si is followed by El Imperfecto Subjuntivo.
Unlike in English where as if is often followed by a past tense in the indicative, in Spanish como si can never be followed by a tense in the indicative or El Presente de Subjuntivo.

Have a look:

Lo tomó como si se tratara de una broma. (Imperfect subjunctive)
He took it as a joke. [as if it was a joke]

Lo tomó como si se trata / se trató / se trataba de una broma. (No indicative)
Lo tomó como si se trate de una broma. (No present subjunctive)

See also Conjugate verbs in El Imperfecto de Subjuntivo.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Me habla como si quisiera convencerme.He talks to me as if he wanted to convince me.
Nos trataron como si fuésemos delincuentes.They treated us as if we were criminals.
Pedro se comporta como si fuera un adolescente.Pedro behaves as if he were a teenager.

Q&A Forum 1 question, 2 answers

MichaelC1Kwiziq community member

Question on one quiz answer unrelated to lesson topic

In the quiz answer 'Cuando bebe leche, siente como si fuera a vomitar', why is 'siente' not 'se siente' used?










Asked 2 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Michael,

this is a very interesting question... 

The verb sentir can be used as a verb expression an "emotion" or a verb expression a "perception". For an emotion we use it as a pronominal verb with the reflexive pronoun "me siento fatal, se siente como una idiota, me siento como si fuera a vomitar". This is expressing "how" one feels. 

However, using this sentence without the reflexive pronoun will express how one perceives something, it is as if you were saying "I am perceiving/realising that I might vomit". 

In our sentence, we used it as a perceptive verb.

I can't see where you found this sentence in the system as it is not related to this lesson, but if you tell me I could have a closer look. 

I hope this clarified it.

Gracias y un saludo

Inma

MichaelC1Kwiziq community member

I just quizzed the referenced lesson: "Using the imperfect subjunctive after the conjunction como si (subordinate manner clauses)", and it definitely is one of its 12 quiz sentences.

Your answer is a great addition to information in your A2 Lesson 'Sentir vs Sentirse (to feel)'.

Why I asked the question is because the sentence didn't seem to fit the pattern for using 'Sentir' from the A2 lesson, (ie) 'what' one feels, followed by a noun or que, neither for 'Sentirse', 'how' one feels, followed by an adjective, adverb, or como.  I thought for a quick second that since 'Sentir' is followed by 'como si', 'Sentirse' should be used.  But your concept of 'perception' vs 'emotion' explains the difference.

Question on one quiz answer unrelated to lesson topic

In the quiz answer 'Cuando bebe leche, siente como si fuera a vomitar', why is 'siente' not 'se siente' used?










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