Table of contents Chapter 9 9.1.7 Different meaning of conjunctions

Chapter 9: Subjuntivo, Conditional und Imperative

  9.1.7 Different meaning of conjunctions depending on the verb mode used (indicativo/subjuntivo)

Maybe first the question What is a conjunction? Well, a conjunction is the little word that connects the parts of sentence. The ones mostly used are probably and, but, or. Some of those little words change their meaning depending on the verb mode they are used with. Again the thumb rule is that the indicativo (the normal form of a verb) expresses reality, the subjuntivo expresses something unreal, doubt or uncertainty. In English we would use another conjunction, in Spanish we have to understand the idea that they change the mode of the verb.

cuando with indicativo means when or always when.
  Cuando tengo dinero, lo gasto. = (Always) when I have money I spend it.

explanation: it's a reality, a habit
  Cuando nos lo dijo, estuvimos bastante sorprendidos. = When he told us we were quite surprise.

explanation: pure reality, no doubt, no uncertainty

cuando with subjuntivo means as soon as
Cuando tenga dinero, me voy a comprar un coche. = As soon as I have money I'm going to buy a car.
(but I have no clue when this might happen)

explanation: uncertain, when this might happen; there is no rich aunt who promised to give the money or something like that; we might even have a doubt whether it ever will happen

mientras with indicativo means while
Mientras tú estas dando vueltas por el mundo, yo me quedo aqui y me aburro. = While you travel the world I stay at home and get bored.

explanation: pure fact, there are two action that happen at the same time

mientras with subjuntivo means as long as
Mientras no me digan que no debo hacerlo, lo hago. = As long as they do not tell me not to do it I do it.

explanation: it is unclear when they will tell to stop, a doubt is in the voice of the speaker

  siempre que
siempre que with indicativo means always when
Siempre que aparece me pongo nervioso. = Always when he appears I get nervous

explanation: pure fact, it is like a habit

siempre que with subjuntivo means in case that
Siempre que mi dinero alcance, me quedaré aquí. = In case that my money lasts I'll stay here.

explanation: there is a uncertainty whether the money will last or not

aunque with indicativo means although
Aunque me paga diez mil euros al mes, dejo de trabajar para él. = Although he pays me ten thousand Euro I quit working for him.

explanation: pure fact, he pays 10,000 EUR and I quit

aunque with subjuntivo means even if
Aunque me pague diez mil euros al mes, nunca voy a trabajar para él. = Even if he paid me ten thousand Euro per months I wouldn't work for him.

it's not real, pure imagination