Conditional vs. Subjunctive | SpanishDict Answers
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I wrote these sentences to help me with the Simple Conditional and the Subjunctive Mood.

1.) I changed the sheets on the bed, because I thought you would spend the night here.

"Me cambié las sábanas en la cama, porque pensé que te pasaría la noche aquí."

(This I believe is a textbook example of the Simple Conditional.)

2.) I never saw that necklace before and I did not steal those rings.

"Nunca vea antes ese collar y yo no robe esos anillos."

(If it never happened, this should be in the Subjunctive Mood.)

3.) I am going to drop this brick when I am standing on this ladder, will it fall to the ground or will it float in the air?

"Voy a solaré este ladrillo cuando de pie encima esta escalera, ¿sea caer en la tierra o sea flotar en el aire'"

(This is trying to put "doubt" about the outcome, so I used the Subjunctive Mood with "sea".)

4.) Cool dude. If I knew you guys were playing music I would have brought my piano.

"La barbara hombres. Sí sabía todos que tipos tocaban música me he traído mi piano."

(I don't think this sentence is either Simple Conditional or Subjunctive Mood but Prefect Present.)

5.) I would like to put the sofa over there, so we might be able to watch the TV better.

"Gustaría poner el sofá allá, así miren la TV mejor." or ("......., así sean mirar la TV mejor.")

(The 1st part is Simple Conditional, the 2nd part is Subjunctive Mood since it is a unknown, not a fact or a truth.)

6.) I bet my frog can jump farther then your frog.

"Apuesto que mi rana pueda saltar más lejos que su rana."

(Subjunctive Mood since the outcome is unknown.)

  • Posted Feb 22, 2009
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Daniel, I think a general thing that will help you understand the subjunctive is that the choice between indicative/subjunctive not about whether or not something actually took place or not, it's about whether you're stating that did or didn't it took place: i.e. whether you're "making an assertion" about something. An "assertion" means something like "a statement about something that can be agreed with, denied".
For example, consider these sentences of English:

(1) Jane told me Daniel went to Cuba last year.
(2) Jane wanted Daniel to go to Cuba last year.

In (1), you could reply with either of these two:

"Yes, I know she did."
"Yes, I know he did."

There are two assertions in (1), and your reply indicates which of those two assertions you agree with/know about etc. But in (2), it wouldn't make sense to reply with "Yes, I know he did", because (2) isn't asserting whether or not Daniel actually went to Cuba. The phrase "Daniel to go to Cuba" is almost like a "snapshot of a situation". And it's this kind of "snapshot" phrase where Spanish tends to use a subjunctive. So the Spanish subjunctive tends to be used in cases where English uses various other constructions that in English take on this "snapshot" function:

"X ...ing (Y)", e.g. "him coming back"
"(for) X to Y", e.g. "for him to come back"
"that X (not) Y", where Y is an infinitive, e.g. "that he not be late"

There are also cases where English doesn't necessarily make the distinction on the surface, and you need to change the sentence round to see the assertion/non-assertion difference. For example:

"I understand that you are tired"

could mean "I sympathise with the fact that you're tired" (non-assertion) or something like "Somebody told me you're tired" (assertion). But if we turn the sentence round:

"You're tired, I understand".

then this would only have the "assertive" interpretation of "You're tired, I've been told".

The other thing to understand about the subjunctive is that it's basically a "piece of syntax". And like many "pieces of syntax", there generally has to be somewhere to "plug it in" in the sentence. Some things I've written that may be of help (I'm sure others here will also suggest material):

1 Vote

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1.) I changed the sheets on the bed, because I thought you would spend the night here. "Me cambié las sábanas en la cama, porque pensé que te pasarías la noche aquí."

:

2.) I never saw that necklace before and I did not steal those rings. "Nunca vi antes ese collar y yo no robe esos anillos." (If it never happened, this should be in the Subjunctive Mood.)

It never happened, but you are declaring it, so it MUST be indicative. Besides, subjunctive can only appear in subordinate clauses (some are implicit), precisely to indicate that you are using it to help complete the meaning of your sentence, but you don't intend to declare their content. "I never saw that" is a full statement without subordinates, and a declaration.

:

3.) I am going to drop this brick when I am standing on this ladder, will it fall to the ground or will it float in the air? "Voy a soltar este ladrillo cuando esté de pie encima esta escalera, ¿Caerá en la tierra o flotará en el aire'" (This is trying to put "doubt" about the outcome, so I used the Subjunctive Mood with "sea".)

You can't use subjunctive here. For guesses and approximations, we use the future tense in indicative, not the subjuntive. If you read somewhere that subjuntive is for unreal, uncertain and unknown things, you got cheated, because ALL TENSES in Spanish can express those things, but there are many cases where things are unknown, uncertain or impossible, and you cannot use subjunctive.
In constructions like "I am going to + inf.", you also use infinitive in Spanish.

:

4.) Cool dude. If I knew you guys were playing music I would have brought my piano. "La barbara hombres. Sí sabía hubiera sabido todos que tipos tocaban música me he traído mi piano." (I don't think this sentence is either Simple Conditional or Subjunctive Mood but Prefect Present.)

:

5.) I would like to put the sofa over there, so we might be able to watch the TV better. "Me gustaría poner el sofá allá, para que miren la TV mejor." or ("......., así sean mirar la TV mejor.") (The 1st part is Simple Conditional, the 2nd part is Subjunctive Mood since it is a unknown, not a fact or a truth.)

Make sure you also read Neil's explanation, it will help understand the concept.

  • Should #4 be: Si hubiera sabido todos… - wbyoung Jun 23, 2013 flag
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Daniel, please look at the scroll down window for he correct categorysmile

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I put this in Vocabulary & Grammar, or should it be in Proof Reading'

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:

6.) I bet my frog can jump farther then your frog. "Apuesto que mi rana pueda saltar más lejos que su rana." (Subjunctive Mood since the outcome is unknown.)

You need indicative, because this mood is for things that you guess, believe or know to be true, and you are willing to communicate to others openly (declaration). Would you bet on something that you don't believe it is going to happen? You are declaring what your heart tells you about your frog, so:

Apuesto a que mi rana puede saltar más lejos que la suya.

It doesn't matter how unknown the outcome is: if you believe or guess how is it going to be, and you are willing to declare it (here you are even willing to bet on it!!!), you use infinitive. Your words pretty much say: My frog can jump farther than yours [declaration, even though it is not 100% certain]. And I am so sure, that I bet any money on it.

I'll check the others later. I gotta go now.

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Thank you Neil. Great comments.

I have studied this inforamation and the web site. I was able to answer the practice sentences correctly the 1st try -- which is why I am trying to use some real world sentences.

NOTE: "all lower case" letters must be used on the practice sentences on the referenced site.

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Thank you so much lazarus for the time you spend helping me.

I am going to search past posts on this forum to see about recommended "Spanish Grammar" books.

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Lazarus: This is a rule you posted on another forum question.

"The rule is: "if you declare, use indicative; if you don't, subjunctive". That's it."

Got any examples'

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Daniel said:

"The rule is: "if you declare, use indicative; if you don't, subjunctive". That's it." Got any examples?

As many people pointed out, the rule is fine... once you understand what I mean by "declare", since I am not using the exact definition from the dictionary (I can't find a closer match). The idea is: any subordinate clause in which you state what you know, think, believe, guess, imagine,... with the intention of informing others of your thoughts, is a "declaration", provided that you did not just state it for the sake of commenting on what your thoughts are about it. In other words, what you communicate with this subordinate could have also been expressed with an independent sentence:

Es una pena que no la hayan traído = It is a pity that they didn't bring it

Here, the intention is not to inform (or highlight to) others that the guests didn't come, since they probably already know it, but to comment on an already stablished fact: they didn't come. Using the indicative here could me misinterpreted in many ways, as people will assume that, being a declaration, you are saying it as a basis of a full independent idea. The sentence could be re-interpreted as:
*
Es una pena que no la han traído = It is a pity they didn't bring (i.e. they didn't bring the pity, and that's a pity)*

This interpretation, of course, is not very likely, but it could cross your mind for a second. It has two declarations (two verbs in indicative): It is a pity, and they didn't bring the pity. However, in:

Es evidente que no la han traído = It is evident that they didn't bring it

the intention is to actually state the fact per se, independently of your personal point of view. The word evident points to a fact.

Quiero que vengas = I want you to come

Am I declaring here that you are coming? No. I want that to happen, but I can't declare something like that.

No quiero que vengas = I don't want you to come

Again, you can't state that you are coming. You're just mentioning that "coming of yours" in order to help you express your only declaration (here in the main clause): that you want that to happen.

There are some books explaining this approach wonderfully and avoiding jargon (and with lots of pictures), but as far as I know, they are only available in Spanish (for foreigners, though).

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I have read and re-read these wonderful comments many times. I also wrote many other sentences to practice and absorb what you have taught me.

This is just a: Thank You Everyone!

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Lazarus1907 said:

:

There are some books explaining this approach wonderfully and avoiding jargon (and with lots of pictures), but as far as I know, they are only available in Spanish (for foreigners, though).

¿Nos dices los títulos o los ISBN? Es mejor leerlos en español, si podemos.

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Natasha said:

¿Nos dices los títulos o los ISBN? Es mejor leerlos en español, si podemos.

ISBN-10: 0536473099

ISBN-13: 978-0536473097

[url=http://www.amazon.com/Gramatica-Basica-Del-Estudiante-Espanol/dp/0536473099/ref=sr_1_1'ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235511714&sr=8-1]http://www.amazon.com/Gramatica-Basica-Del-Estudiante-Espanol/dp/05...[/url]

Despite being called "básica", it covers all major tenses and the subjunctive (using the declarative approach).

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¡Gracias!

lazarus1907 said:

Natasha said:

¿Nos dices los títulos o los ISBN? Es mejor leerlos en español, si podemos.

ISBN-10: 0536473099

ISBN-13: 978-0536473097

[url=http://www.amazon.com/Gramatica-Basica-Del-Estudiante-Espanol/dp/0536473099/ref=sr_1_1'ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235511714&sr=8-1]http://www.amazon.com/Gramatica-Basica-Del-Estudiante-Espanol/dp/05...[/url]

Despite being called "básica", it covers all major tenses and the subjunctive (using the declarative approach).

>

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Natasha said:

¿Nos dices los títulos o los ISBN? Es mejor leerlos en español, si podemos.

I've found this article to be real helpful. In the end she comes to a different conclusion than Lazarus about the general concept of the subjunctive as a mood, but that doesn't really matter. If you want to buy a book, though, my favorite on the subjunctive is "[url=http://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9788471433169/Borrego,+J.%3B+Asencio,+J.+G.%3B+Prieto,+E./El+Subjuntivo/]El subjuntivo: valores y usos[/url]". The authors agree with Lazarus' general view, but go into great detail on the different uses in different contexts.

Suerte smile

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