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Using the imperfect subjunctive after the conjunction como si in Spanish (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 when it's expressing this (as if/like) in a hypothetical situation. In this lesson we will explain how it works with El Pretérito 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 Pretérito 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. However, with a different meaning to these hypothetical situations, indicating instead "indifference" towards something, como si is indeed followed by the indicative. For this, see Using "como si" in Spanish with indicative to express indifference

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 Spanish verbs in the Spanish imperfect subjunctive tense (El Imperfecto de Subjuntivo) and Using "como si" in Spanish with indicative to express indifference

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Examples and resources

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