1 Vote

I understand the rule of declare vs. non-declare with the subjunctive. I also understand that the subjunctive is used with verbs of emotion because you are not declaring or informing other people of a fact, you are simply making a comment/passing a value judgment over something.

The one concept that is really confusing me is the use of the subjunctive with "el hecho de que/el que/que".

For example... "El hecho de que estés aquí me soprende." I understand that the subjunctive is used with that sentence because you can basically reword it as "Me soprende que estés aquí."

But why is the subjunctive used in a sentence such as this: "El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente..." There seems to be no emotion or passing of judgment in this sentence. To me, it seems as if you are declaring that somebody has problems, and that that fact does not justify their being impatient. The problem is that I have also seen the indicative used with "El hecho de que/El que/ que."

This is the one use of the subjunctive that does not seem to follow the "declare vs. non-declare"... at least not in my mind. tongue laugh Maybe my view of declaration is a little off...

7 Answers

3 Vote

Also: This sentence's use of the subjunctive is still confusing me: ""El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente..." It still seems to me that you are declaring the fact that someone has problems...

No, you are not declaring it, but I guess why you're struggling to understand this. If you declare something with indicative, and someone disagrees or think that you are lying and says so, you wouldn't be surprised.

A) Creo que es alemán.

B) Te equivocas, es ruso.

But if you don't declare something, the interruption would come as a shock, for you never intended to declare such a thing.

A) El hecho de que sea alemán no significa que sea mejor.

B) Te equivocas, es ruso.

A) ¿Eh? Bueno, lo que sea, pero lo que quería decir es que no significa que sea mejor.

In this case, the person A assumed that it was German, but he wasn't declaring it, but only declaring that it doesn't mean that it is better, so when the other one corrects him, he gets corrected on something he took as a basic assumption, but something that wasn't the main point of his talk, which was talking about being better. To A, the guy B is digressing.

But going back to the original sentence:

"El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente"

Here you are declaring that we cannot justify something. The main declaration is: the fact cannot be justified. The clauses "alguien tenga problemas" and "se impacienten" has not been mentioned because those are some of the main points that you wanted others to know regarding your views in this sentence, but because you needed it to make your comment about them to make your declaration about "being justified".

Normally, one would say this sentence after someone (even yourself) has already mentioned this fact, and it has already become the main assumption. Once established the fact that some people has problems and they become impatient, you say the sentence above, just mention those two facts, and declare a new one.

A) La gente se impacienta porque tiene muchos problemas.

B) El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente

Clearly, the person B is not trying to inform A about the people becoming impatient or having problems (since it is A who mentioned it) , but about our views on whether such facts are justified. That piece of information about our thoughts that we want to share is a declaration; previously known or assumed to be known facts are not.

But we don't need previously known facts for non-declarations. It is enough that we don't want to make the statement in a clause the main point of our conversation, simply because we are going to make a comment about it; a comment that it is the one that will mark the main point of the conversation

Am I making any sense here?

1 Vote

In order to declare, you need to be willing to inform others of your thoughts. If you mention a statement, not because you want to declare it per se, but because you want to mention it to make a comment about it, you are not declaring it, but mentioning it.

  • El hecho de que preguntes todo esto es normal.

I am not informing you that you are asking me about the subjunctive, since you already know. I simply mentioned it because I want to make a comment about something I assume we both know. In other words, and I am not saying "Oh, by the way, you are asking something about the subjunctive"; this clause is there only to support the main one, and not to be declared as if it was there on its own.

  • But you can also make a declaration with the same "el hecho de que":

Esto confirma que el sospechoso es el culpable.

Here, our intention is to actually declare "The suspect IS the culprit", independently of the rest of the sentence.

If you enter a room where someone was speaking, and you only hear only the end of the sentence:"...el hecho de que el aceite está muy caro", it is a declaration, so you know 100% that this guy wanted the others to know this from him, regardless of what he said before that, which is not needed to understand his intentions.

However, If you hear "...el hecho de que el aceite esté muy caro", the guy's intention was not to inform other about this fact, but to mention it just to make a comment about it, probably assuming that every one in that room already know it (although not necessarily). You've heard this non-declarative statement, but what he thinks about this fact, what he wanted to declare, was stated before that, and therefore, you don't really know what he meant to say.

Do you want to assimilate this? Is it good enough? More questions?

P.S. Try to read this article.

1 Vote

I think translating your sentences may help you see the difference.

A new feature is posted on the site. It's being beta tested by users providing feedback.

El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente.

The fact that someone might/may have problems doesn't justify being impatient.

No one has reported any problems yet. We only supspect that some might arise so we are not declaring, but commenting about the fact.

El hecho de que alguien tiene/tuvo problemas no justifica que se impaciente.

The fact that someone is having/had problems doesn't justify being impatient.

We know for a fact that problems are or have occured so we are declaring.

Now I have to read the rest of Lazarus articles to see just how wrong I am.

1 Vote

The fact that someone is having/had problems doesn't justify being impatient.

We know for a fact that problems are or have occurred so we are declaring.

Actually, that sentence is English is the same as the one with "tenga" and "sea". Using indicative in a sentence like this is very unusual, and if you used "tiene", the idea it would communicate would be like:

The fact that someone is having problems doesn't justify being impatient, because some people are indeed having problems.

In other words, there would be an unexpected "listen, I want to know this" added to the whole sentence. In English, whether "some people is having problems" is a declaration or not depends mainly the intonation and the context (whether this has been established as a fact before or not). In Spanish, the mood specifies this regardless of any context.

1 Vote

A) La gente se impacienta porque tiene muchos problemas.

B) El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente

Okay, let's see if I am understanding this correctly now. In that example, Person B is declaring that the fact that people are having problems does not justify impatience. He does not need to "re-declare" that people are becoming impatient, as it is now an established fact - Person A just said that there are indeed people that are having problems. Persons B's main point is to say that their problems do not justify impatience, and he is merely restating, not declaring, their impatience. You can reword the dialogue as:

A) La gente se impacienta porque tiene muchos problemas. (You are declaring that the people are becoming patient and that they are having many problems, so indicative is used.)

B) Pues, eso (referring to their impatience) no justifica que se impaciente. (You are declaring that their problems do not justify impatience and you can even omit the whole "el hecho de que" part... making it even clearer that the main point of the sentence is to declaring the lack of justification).

Is my analysis correct?

P.S.: Thank you so much for your detailed and informative answers. I know I can get a little bothersome with my countless questions, but I am always answered with patience and great explanations. grin

1 Vote

Is my analysis correct?

Yes, I'd say so.

P.S.: Thank you so much for your detailed and informative answers. I know I can get a little bothersome with my countless questions, but I am always answered with patience and great explanations. grin

It is difficult to explain even to a Spanish native, especially because the precise term to describe this does not seem to exist in either language ("declaration" is the closest one, chosen by the guy who came up with these explanations in the first place). English relies on context to determine whether there is declaration or not, so the idea is even tougher, since you are not used to make these interpretations based on the choice of tense or mood, but solely on context.

0 Vote

Okay... I think I get it. With "El hecho de que preguntes todo esto es normal" you can reword it using only "Es normal" (using an impersonal expression that requires the subjunctive) and say "Es normal que preguntes todo esto". Am I correct in my analysis?

Also: This sentence's use of the subjunctive is still confusing me: ""El hecho de que alguien tenga problemas no justifica que se impaciente..." It still seems to me that you are declaring the fact that someone has problems..

P.S. Sorry, but I edited your post by accident, instead of writing a new one. I've tried to recover it, but I don't know whether I've done it right.

  • Try to read this article: http://www.mepsyd.es/redele/revista1/placido.shtml - lazarus1907 Aug 18, 2009 flag
Answer this Question
Download our free app
Connect with SpanishDict
Comentarios