So many students of Spanish get nervous about studying and using the subjunctive tense. Ira Riklis knows that the subjunctive is required in Spanish in at least dependent clauses when the verb in the main clause expresses feelings or emotion, such as regret, fear, pity, hope, surprise etc. In other words you could say “fuzzy”.
Yes, uncertainty is a big part of life so to express oneself one needs a tense where the listener will understand what the speaker is really communicating. The subjunctive tense helps one express doubt, disbelief, uncertainty or denial about what is real.
When certain verbs are used in a question, doubt or assurance on the part of the person who asks the question determines whether the subjunctive or the indicative tense is used. Yes, Ira Riklis knows that the subjunctive tense is highly subjective! When one is discussing generally accepted fact, one uses the indicative. When there is some mental reservation, one uses the subjunctive tense.
How then can the student of Spanish hope to learn and use the subjunctive tense? Probably the best way is to familiarize yourself with the various forms of the tense most often used by reviewing a verb book (or use Internet resources). Next try to pick out the subjunctive tense usage in reading books, magazines, and newspapers. Listening for possible use of the subjunctive tense by speakers and trying to slip in a few of these verb forms in your conversation practice will help in developing skill in this area. Lastly don’t worry about the subjunctive!