woman thinking ojalá

How to Use Ojalá in Spanish

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on December 14, 2023

If you’ve ever visited a Spanish-speaking country, you’ve probably heard people say “¡ojalá!” In Spanish, this is a common word we use to talk about wishes or possible future events we wish will happen. But, there are a couple more ways you can apply this word. In this guide, I’ll show you how to use “ojalá” to convey exactly what you’re feeling.

Ojalá in Spanish: Origin and Meaning

The Spanish language has a history of taking expressions and words from other languages and adapting them to fit the daily lives of its speakers. And this is just what happened to this word of Arabic origin. Due to Muslim rule in Spain from 711 to 1492 AD, it makes sense that the language has been influenced by Arabic. Many Spanish speakers believe that “ojalá” comes from the expression “O Allah!” (Oh, God!) which has a similar pronunciation. However, this word likely originated from the Arabic “Inshallah” (God-willing).

Now, “ojalá” is a common Spanish word and expression we use when we’re not sure something we want to happen will end up happening. When used as a word, it literally translates to “I hope” but it can also work as “hopefully” when applied as a response. Like its English equivalent, this word helps us communicate wishful thinking.

¡Ojalá! as a Wishful Response

You can apply it as a stand-alone word to express that you wish something would happen. This is done to reply to someone else’s future theory or hypotheses, similarly to how its English translation “hopefully!” is employed. Of course, we aren’t entirely sure any of these future events will end up taking place, but this is just what makes “¡ojalá!” the perfect reply for these types of statements. For example, you might hear a Spanish speaker tell someone that they hope tomorrow will be sunny. In this case, if you agree or you too wish tomorrow will be sunny, you can say, “¡ojalá!” 

Note that you must include the opening exclamation sign “¡” for this one-word Spanish expression to be grammatically correct. Here are a few more examples of how you can use “¡ojalá!” as a response:

Speaker 1: Ojalá que el tren no se haya ido de la estación. / I hope the train hasn’t left the station.

Speaker 2: ¡Ojalá! / Hopefully!

Speaker 1: Espero que los niños hayan hecho las tareas de la casa. / I hope the kids have done their house chores. 

Speaker 2: ¡Ojalá! / Hopefully!

Speaker 1: Ojalá el maestro se olvide del exámen. / I hope the teacher forgets about the exam.

Speaker 2: ¡Ojalá! / Hopefully!

Ojalá in Spanish: Uses

“Ojalá” is a word that conveys hope. You can add it to your sentences to talk about things you wish or long for. However, you can also use “ojalá” to express that you wish a specific event has taken place when you’re not sure it has or is unlikely to happen. Keep in mind that when “ojalá” is used in complete sentences, you don’t necessarily need to add exclamation signs. Below, you’ll find a quick guide to help you understand how to use “ojalá” in the correct way.

Wishes or Desires

This is the most common use for “ojalá” because it indicates something we truly wish will happen. When we use “ojalá” in this way, we acquire a positive wishful tone. However, it’s also possible to use “ojalá” to wish that something negative doesn’t happen. For this purpose, “ojalá” is translated as “I hope.” Remember that these are actions that haven’t happened yet, so you need to keep your sentence in the future tense. Let’s see some examples: 

Ojalá él logre entrar a una buena universidad. / I hope he gets into a good university.

Ojalá tú puedas ir al viaje. / I hope you can go to the trip.

Ojalá podamos conseguir una entrada al concierto. / I hope we can get a ticket to the concert.

Ojalá no tenga que pagar por la maleta extra. / I hope I don’t have to pay for the extra luggage.


“Ojalá” is used to express a wish, but when we place it in a sentence with an uncertain action, it takes on another role. When we use “ojalá” to express uncertainty, we’re emphasizing the fact that we don’t know the way events really played out. For example:

Ojalá pueda regresar a casa temprano hoy. / I hope I can go back home early today. 

In this sentence, “ojalá” is pointing out the wish the speaker has to go back home early. However, the speaker isn’t sure this will end up happening at all. Spanish speakers often use “ojalá” in this way when a change in events is rare. Keep in mind that you need to make sure that you’re talking about an event or action you’re not sure took place for “ojalá” to fit your tone. 

Here are some examples: 

Ojalá ellos no estén en problemas. / I hope they aren’t in trouble.

Ojalá yo no tenga que volver a llenar otra encuesta. / I hope I don’t have to fill out another survey again.

Ojalá encontremos alguien con un mapa. / I hope we find someone with a map.


It’s also possible to use “ojalá” to express regret, as strange as it sounds. Here “ojalá” is used to add a longing tone to our sentences. We do this to indicate that we wish something was different in the past, present, or future, but that we know it’s unlikely. In this case, you might see “ojalá” translated as “I wish.” Here are some examples:

Ojalá no hubieras hecho eso. / I wish you hadn’t done that.

Ojalá volvamos a hablar algún día. / I hope we talk again someday.

Ojalá pudiera volver el tiempo atrás. / I wish I could turn back time.

Ojalá and the Subjunctive Mood

In English, the subjunctive tense isn’t necessary because there are plenty of words we can use to express subjective ideas. In Spanish, however, we use the subjuntivo or subjunctive mood to talk about our hopes, desires, and doubts, or to express the intention to do something. For this same reason, “ojalá” can easily be applied in phrases in the subjunctive present, future, or imperfect tense. 

When we use “ojalá” in the subjunctive tense, we place it at the beginning of the sentence. Then, we place the pronoun or subject and follow it with the subjunctive form of a verb. Like this:

Ojalá + pronoun or noun + subjunctive verb

Conjugating verbs in the Spanish subjunctive is fairly easy, but you might need to look for Spanish grammar resources to ensure you’re using the right form for each pronoun and tense. Let’s see some examples in the subjunctive tense:

Ojalá ella llame pronto. / I hope she calls soon.

Ojalá los vecinos hablaren español. / I hope the neighbors will speak Spanish.

Ojalá él comiera más vegetales. / I hope he ate more vegetables.

Alternatives to Ojalá in Spanish

The most common alternative for “ojalá” is “ojalá que….” This is a variation for “ojalá” commonly used to point that we hope “that” happens. While it’s entirely possible to use “ojalá” and “ojalá que” interchangeably in a phrase, we prefer to use “ojalá que” when there’s a demonstrative pronoun (eso, ese, esa, aquel, aquella, esta, este) following. For example:

Ojalá qué ese perro no esté corriendo en el jardín otra vez. / I hope that dog isn’t running in the garden again.

There are also other ways to say you wish or desire something will happen. Here are the alternatives that are closest in meaning:

-Espero que… / I hope that…

-Quisiera que… / I wish that…

-Desearía que… / I wish that…

And, these are some essential Spanish phrases that can help us express wishes: 

-Sería genial si… / It would be awesome if…

-Si Dios quiere… / If God wants…

-Si tenemos suerte… / If we are lucky…

Ways to Practice Ojalá

The best way to learn how to use “ojalá” is to practice using it in conversations. But, if you don’t know any Spanish speakers, don’t fret. There are many other Spanish resources that can help you learn to use this phrase naturally and correctly.

Spanish textbooks can teach you the correct use, structure, and conjugation, and they often have extensive explanations that tackle complicated grammar topics. If you like more interactive tools, you can download a Spanish app to practice on the go and expand your vocabulary quickly. However, if you like more structure and guidance in your practice, you can try a Spanish online course to follow a set lesson plan to get to the next level of fluency. There are also online tutors you can hire to take private Spanish lessons and exercise the areas of language that interest you.

Meaning of Ojalá in Spanish: Final Thoughts

I hope this guide has helped you understand how to use “ojalá” to express what you wish will happen in the future. This is a common word for wishes and hopes, and you need to learn it to understand Spanish conversations effectively. Once you’re familiar with the correct usage of this word, you’ll be able to talk about your wishes, doubts, and regrets like a native speaker.  

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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