HomeQ&AEso no quiere decir que él sea un santo

Eso no quiere decir que él sea un santo

2
votes

I would like to translate this sentence in subjunctive: "eso no quiere decir que él sea un santo" I think there could be three possibilities for "sea": was, were or is. Which is it the correc option?. I think it could be "was" but I am not sure enough. Then the sentence would remain like this: that does not mean that he was a saint. I accepte corrections if there is any mistake.

16221 views
updated SEP 3, 2009
edited by nila45
posted by nila45

32 Answers

2
votes

Hi Nila

For American English

Eso no significa que él sea un santo PRESENT (that does not mean he was a saint). American English

The present subjective is the same in form as the bare form of the verb. In this case the verb form you should use is be. This is only used in expressions of hope or to express a requirement/recommendation/suggestion

Trust me, English simply wouldn´t use the subjunctive mood in this sentence. You should use the indicative mood for this sentence.

This sentence can be used in English depending on what you are trying to say.

The corresponding sentence could be

That does not mean that he must be a saint. (This indicates a requirement i.e it is not required that he be a saint)

If you are casting doubt on his saintliness then you could say

That does not mean that he might be a saint (i.e. whatever he did does not necessarily make him a saint)

Or you could be saying that his actions should not be an endorsement of his promotion to sainthood

That does not mean that he ought to be (made into) a saint

or even stronger

That does not mean that he must be a saint

Eso no significa que él fuera un santo PASADO (that does not mean he were a saint). American English or British English?

This is not a proper use of the subjunctive. Both the past subjunctive and the past perfect subjunctive are usually only used (without a modal auxiliary) when you are expressing a wish for something in the present (past subjunctive) or for something in the past (past perfect subjunctive)

Example of past subjunctive

I wish that he were a saint. (i.e. right now)

Example of past perfect subjunctive

I wish that he had been a saint (i.e. in the past)

Yes, I think this is the ultracorrect form. However, if you were to use that, I think people would think you be a snob.

I think that you are mistaken on this one. Depending on the context, it is perfectly natural to say it in this manner.

Mother Jim you have to be good if you want to spend this weekend at grandma's house

Grandma You don't expect that he (must) be a saint, do you? or with a stronger and more disapproving tone: That doesn't mean that he (must) be a saint (does it)?

In this, the grandmother means basically Go easy on Jim, he is a kid after all, and bound to make some mistakes

In a context like this, it would not sound at all snobish to use the subjunctive, and there are many more instances where it could sound quite natural to use this type of sentence structure

updated SEP 1, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Este hombre está loco! jeje, very helpful, Izan, thanks :) - 00494d19, SEP 1, 2009
"present subjective". I have always liked that terms. I think that we should adopt it. - 0074b507, SEP 1, 2009
2
votes

Nila,

I apologize...sea is subjunctive present...I thought it was subjunctive past. Subjunctive present for "to be" is "be".

"That doesn´t mean he be a saint."

That also sounds funny to me.

Trust me, English simply wouldn´t use the subjunctive mood in this sentence. You should use the indicative mood for this sentence.

Since it is in the present tense, I think you are looking for "That doesn´t mean he is a saint."

updated SEP 2, 2009
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
2
votes

"That doesn´t mean he be a saint."

Yes, I think this is the ultracorrect form. However, if you were to use that, I think people would think you be a snob.

I vote for "That doesn´t mean he is a saint."

Webdunce, you got my vote on this one!

updated SEP 2, 2009
posted by 00494d19
1
vote

My God! It's no wonder people have problems learning English.

The correct answer is:

This does not mean he is a saint.

In certain structures in English the subjunctive is simply not used. En punto.

This does not mean he was a saint

This sentence is possible if you are refering to a dead person or a situation which took place in the past and has nothing to do with the subjunctive.

This does not mean he be a saint.

This sentence doesn't exist in English. It is simply wrong and the only people you might hear say it would probably live in the Harlem area of New York.

updated SEP 3, 2009
edited by Robert-Austin
posted by Robert-Austin
THANK YOU, Robert.. I've been reading through this whole thread thinking, but... but... I'm so happy to find that you've already spoken my thoughts! - Valerie, SEP 1, 2009
Not true Robert. The problem arises when you try to apply the indicative mood to a subjunctive verb form. Try actually applying the subjunctive mood (think, "What is the subjunctive used for?") to this verb form and see if you cannot understand this - Izanoni1, SEP 3, 2009
1
vote

Very rarely used over here. That's one of the reasons that this Spanish mood is difficult for us. Plus the fact we expect everybody to speak English.

God save the queen is one that is used though most people don't even know it is the subjunctive.

Also after If - If i were to leave early I might catch the bus.

There is a joke over here which goes.

What do you call a person who speaks three languages - Trilingual

What do you call a person who speaks two languages - Bilingual

What do you call a person who speaks one language - English

updated SEP 1, 2009
edited by Eddy
posted by Eddy
It´s like that in America, too. English or else. - webdunce, SEP 1, 2009
In fact, when I last heard that joke, the punch line was "American" jejeje - Valerie, SEP 1, 2009
1
vote

Hi Nila

Well, I am trying to look for their equivalents in Spanish. Some are possible but others are doubts for me.

I am sure that your knowledge of English is probably better than my knowledge of Spanish, but I will try to see if I can further clarify this for you.

That does not mean that he be a saint. (This indicates a requirement i.e it is not required that he be a saint) We would say: no es necesario que sea un santo.

This appears to be correct as far as I can tell.

That does not mean that he might be a saint (i.e. whatever he did does not necessarily make him a saint) We would say: éso no significa que él pudiera ser un santo. (UNDER MY POINT OF VIEW, I SEE IT AS PAST)

I think that you have the basic meaning correct; however, the subjunctive should not be in the past but in the present. What he did (the "that") in your sentence occurred in the past; however, the tense for the subjunctive should be the present. See if this clarifies it:

What he did (in the past) does not make him a saint (now/in the present)

That does not mean that he ought to be a saint I DON’T CATCH THE SENSE OF ENDORSEMENT OF HIS PROMOTION TO SAINTHOOD. Does it have any irony? Does it mean that he couldn't be actually a saint because there are not any signs of that? We would say: éso no significa que él debiera ser un santo

Yes, perhaps that statement does have a hint of irony/sarcasm. It could have two slightly different implications that I can think of--one rather harsh implication and one that is a little softer.

I can't believe that you want to treat him like a saint just because of a few good, yet insignificant things that he has done.

or

Yes he is a very nice person, but let's just remember that he's human like the rest of us (i.e. Don't expect him to have to be good all the time)

That does not mean that he must be a saint We would say: eso no significa que él deba ser un santo (Surely HE IS NOT A SAINT. Then, he isn’t likely to be a saint).

I think that you have interpreted this one fairly well. It is similar to the first version above only it sounds a little harsher. A similar English expression would be

Let's not go making him a saint just because of a few (lousy) good deeds (that he has done)

I wish he were a saint We would say: ojalá él fuera un santo

Again this is one that could be ambiguous without added context. I can think of two possible meanings one that uses the word saint as a metaphor (more common) and the other that uses the literal meaning of the word. In this context, both are expressions of remorse, sorrow or grief:

I wish that he were (that he would act more like) a saint

similar to an expression:

I wish that he had been born a saint (i.e. that way he wouldn't cause so much trouble)

I wish that he were (made into) a saint. I cannot see where this one would be used often, as you are literally implying that at some definite point in the past the church was actually considering canonizing (declaring him a saint) him.

I wish he had been a saint We would say: ojalá él hubiera sido un santo

This one is the past perfect form of the phrase above. Again this one also has two implied meanings with one being more likely to be used and the other one less likely

I wish that he had been a saint that he had acted in the manner of a saint over some unspecified period in the past

I wish that he had been a saint-that he had actually been made into a saint at some unspecified time period in the past

I hope that this clarifies some of the ambiguity

raspberry

updated SEP 1, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
I am so sorry... You look tired after making so much effort. - nila45, SEP 1, 2009
It is a pity that I cannot vote more than once for you. Or perhaps, can I do it? I will try it in this new answer. You are being the most nice. - nila45, SEP 1, 2009
0
votes

I don't know what to say after reading all the above except that any native Spanish speaker trying to learn English would be very confused. The subjunctive is very simple and hardly used in English and even when it should be it is increasingly not used. Example "If I were you I would .... " is often said as "If I was you I would ...." unfortunately.

updated SEP 3, 2009
posted by ian-hill
0
votes

Patch, hy hero, jeje, I agree with you, I told Nila just that, the examples with the "he be desbarred" for example sound really weird, natural only in veeeery formal contexts


In any case, those examples sound very strange and very formal to me. I would phrase them differently and avoid that subjunctive altogether!

I will try to be brief and to the point on this issue:

The reason that these sentences sound stained to you is that you have not included a modal auxiliary to give better clarity to the sentence.

See if you can spot the difference

(Its necessary that) he be disbarred (for that) [No modal auxiliary]

He should be disbarred (for that) [Note the modal auxiliary]

He must be disbarred (for that) [Note the modal auxiliary]

He could be disbarred (for that) [Note the modal auxiliary]

He ought to be disbarred (for that) [Note the modal auxiliary]

He might be disbarred (for that) [Note the modal auxiliary]

He can be disbarred (for that) [Note the modal auxiliary]

Or in the past subjunctive [used to express a wish for something in the present]

I wish that he were disbarred (for that) [Note the use of the word wish]

Or in the past perfect [used to express a wish for something in the past]

I wish that he had been disbarred (for that) [Note the use of the word wish]

It may also sound strained to you because of your verb choice as well.

The be verb is such an imprecise verb that it would make more sense to try to understand the subjunctive using different verbs to express the intended action.

They should disbar him (for that) [note the modal auxiliary]

They could disbar him (for that) [note the modal auxiliary]

They ought to disbar him (for that) [note the modal auxiliary]

Or in the present subjunctive

Disbar him!

I hope that these examples have adequately demonstrated my point. Let me just reiterate that if you don't want your sentences to sound strained:

Ask yourself the following three things (these are just generalizations, but they should help)

  1. Should you use a modal auxiliary (would, could, might, should, must, etc)
  2. Is it possible to use a more precise verb (think action verbs not passive)
  3. (for past or past perfect) you should use the verb wish (I wish that I had a million dollars or I wish that I had won a million dollars)
  4. (I know, I know...I said three things right. Well, I also said that I would be brief wink) I didn't address this, but if you refer to hypothetical/impossible situations then this calls for the subjunctive as well (If I were you, I wouldn't have done that; I can't even imagine what I might have looked like if I had been born on another planet; ...And if pigs could fly then I would fly like a pig)

Following these general guidelines should help keep the subjunctive from sounding strained.

I could probably come up with hundreds of examples of the subjunctive that are not ultra-formal and that do not sound strained in English; however I also said that I will be brief, so I think its best if I just leave it at that.

In any event, I help that this was useful to you and that it adequately demonstrated the (not so uncommon) use of the subjunctive.

updated SEP 3, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
0
votes

I would just like to point out that if the subjunctive tense is such a rare three headed monster, then why is its use so pervasive in this forum? Nearly every post has instances of the subjunctive, sometimes used (quite ironically, I think) in the self same sentence that is used to decry that the subjunctive mood is dead.

I myself, believe that rumors of the subjunctive's death have been greatly exaggerated. I am only going to go over a few of its uses in some of the postings on this page (many from posters who used the subjunctive in their own sentence constructions while simultaneously demanding that we give it a proper burial).

The subjunctive is very simple and hardly used in English and even when it should be it is increasingly not used. Example "If I were you I would .... " is often said as "If I was you I would ...." unfortunately.

[subjunctive used to express recommendation or requirement] ...and even when it should be it is increasingly not used

in English it is slowly dying a death and although it is used more than people realise there is no proper rule we can use to determine wether we should be using it or not

[subjunctive used to express possibility and then a recommendation/suggestion] ...there is no proper rule we can use to determine [sic] wether we should be using it or not

I don't think you can translate "sea" to English. It just doesn't work like that.

[subjunctive used to express possibility] *I don't think you can translate "sea" to English.

This sentence doesn't exist in English. It is simply wrong and the only people you might hear say it would probably live in the Harlem area of New York.

[subjunctive used to express possibility and then to express probability] ...the only people you might hear say it would probably live in the Harlem area of New York.

I thought it might be handy to have a direct link to it (as the site is not too easy to navigate).

[subjunctive used to express possibility] ...it might be handy to have to have a direct link to it

I would be interested to hear opinions on this

[subjunctive used to express a wish] I would be interested to hear opinions on this

I have thought that I needed to give priority to some of them

[subjunctive used to express a suggestion/recommendation or requirement] I have thought that I needed to give priority to some of them

I could probably come up with hundreds of examples of the subjunctive that are not ultra-formal and that do not sound strained in English

[subjunctive used to express possibility] I could probably come up with hundreds of examples...

The paradigmatic subjunctive (condition contrary to fact) can easily be expressed with past tenses.

[subjunctive used to express possibility] The paradigmatic subjunctive can easily be expressed with the past tense

And if you intend to take an English exam you should not be learning English from me (hehehe)

[subjunctive used to express a suggestion] ...You should not be learning English from me (hehehe)

If the mysterious subjunctive is as dead as some might have you believe then why is it so pervasive here? It just seems to me that slipping in sentences that use the subjunctive mood in an exposition designed to show how the subjunctive is an oddity that is rarely (or never used) would be a bit counterproductive.

In any event, I hope that this showed you that the subjunctive is just another part of speech that is common and not at all weird to see or hear in everyday speech.

It could be that this has still not swayed any of the subjunctive detractors; however, it is my opinion that that is due more to my lack of pervasive abilities than to an actual dearth of the subjunctive in everyday language.

In any event, thanks for listening

updated SEP 3, 2009
posted by Izanoni1
This is becoming the most interesting. I love that you explain the grammar with examples. - nila45, SEP 3, 2009
Izanoni - Are yuo saying that all sentences that use a modal are subjunctive - just because a modal ALWAYS is followed by a "base" verb?? - ian-hill, SEP 3, 2009
No, what I am saying that modal auxiliaries that are used to express a wish, probability, possibility, capability, permission, a requirement, a recommendation, a suggestion, a conlusion, or a contrary-to-fact condition are used in the subjunctive mood. - Izanoni1, SEP 3, 2009
Furthermore, the subjunctive, in most instances, requires EITHER a modal auxiliary OR a subjunctive verb form - Izanoni1, SEP 3, 2009
It is not the modal that determines the subjunctive, but rather the intended meaning of the clause that contains the modal (i.e. is is used to show a wish, a probability, a possibility, etc.) Does that make a little more sense to you? - Izanoni1, SEP 3, 2009
0
votes

Hi Nila

In Spanish, we hardly study the subjunctive unless you want to learn more grammar. Simply, we use it and that is all.

I think that is much of the problem with the use of the subjunctive in English as well. People use it and they don't even realize that they are using it because it is intuitive to a native speaker to do so. Just like it is not intuitive for me to understand the your intuitive and casual use of the subjunctive in Spanish, it is likely the same for someone trying to learn English. However, just because its use is mostly instinctual does not mean that it does not have rules that are more or less followed. Moreover, it seems that most of these rules are apparently (more or less) followed unbeknownst to the followers.

This is becoming the most interesting. I love that you explain the grammar with examples.

Let me just try to mollify anyone who might take offense to this comment. I do not find it at all odd that anyone would find it difficult to believe that the subjunctive tense is used commonly in everyday English. There are many sites on the internet in which this selfsame position is asserted; moreover, I don't believe that the subjunctive is covered much in school (at least I don't remember learning it in school). It was only later, fueled by my own interest in grammar, that I even remember reading about the subjunctive.

And yet....in everyday speech, the subjunctive is just as common as fleas on a dog.

With so much doubt about the existence (i.e. common usage) of the subjunctive, it seemed like its legend had reached mythical proportion, like a dragon, or a unicorn, or a chupacabra.

Just like any other mythical creatures, people want proof--and with good reason. If I came to you in earnest and tell you that I had seen a unicorn, you would look at me as if I were crazy (and probably rightly so).

But if I came to you with pictures of me with a unicorn, or if I brought you the unicorn so that you could see it for yourself, or if I showed you the unicorn hiding in your own backyard then you might believe me (or possibly think yourself crazy).

People want proof. In my examples, I have done my best to provide that proof so that they can take the evidence and judge it as they see fit.

The unexamined life is not worth living - Plato from the trial of Socrates

updated SEP 3, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
0
votes

After reading the numerous Izanoni's answers, I wonder which is the connection between the two subjunctives. In Spanish, we hardly study the subjunctive unless you want to learn more grammar. Simply, we use it and that is all.

And, I know for Lazarus's explanations that it has a lot of rules. And I see that if a foreigner wants to understand the subjunctive in Spanish they have to learn it. But I haven't learned them at school. We have learned by means of practice.

updated SEP 3, 2009
posted by nila45
0
votes

Sorry, but I have a doubt.

The fact is that I have being told that with "necessary" the sentence would be like this: It is necessary for him to be disbarred. (And it is translated as a subjunctive too). Perhaps the difference is between American and Brittish English, isn't it?

updated SEP 3, 2009
edited by nila45
posted by nila45
0
votes

Hi Patch,

don't worry about my knowledge of English. I have enough experience to guess until where I can experiment. In case of doubt, I try not to risk. That is why I have preferred to start from the beginning.

I am almost sure that, at the end, I will find some reliable information. But I would never assimilate something that I cannot understand or which is doubftul. As you can see in my grammar, I do not risk too much with my expressions and I try everything to be correct.

As for the subjunctive in English, I have preferred to talk as much as possible to Heidita because she is a Spanish speaker and she can understand much better my point of view about this matter. Sometimes, I have the impression that English and Spanish speakers live in different worlds when they refer to subjunctive.

Anyway, I am a curious person and I cannot avoid to poke my nose in this thread. I find interesting to see native speakers' points of view and to contrast them with information from the teachers. The two things complement each other.

updated SEP 3, 2009
edited by nila45
posted by nila45
0
votes

Hola nila:

I'm glad that we didn't scare you too much LOL

If you are studying for an exam then please don't trust what I say. Did you read Izanoni's comments? My attempts were wrong and I don't want you to fail your exam...

In any case, those examples sound very strange and very formal to me. I would phrase them differently and avoid that subjunctive altogether! In Britain it is hardly used at all (read Eddy's comment) except in set-phrases (for example "God bless you", "if I were you") but in the USA I think that it is more common.

If you want to know more just ask us but please ask your teacher as well.

No, no has metido la pata, tu inglés es muy bueno cool smile

Saludos

updated SEP 3, 2009
posted by patch
Patch, hy hero, jeje, I agree with you, I told Nila just that, the examples with the "he be desbarred" for example sound really weird, natural only in veeeery formal contexts. - 00494d19, SEP 3, 2009
0
votes

Well, Patch, I was eavesdropping. (You never know...)

Anyway, you are partly right. I have seen all this information and I have thought that I needed to give priority to some of them. For example, Heidita's website can be very useful for a starting. I think it can be very important to have some basics so that I can contrast better the other information.

But I will study step by step all your answers. And then, I promise to attack again if it is necessary.

(I am being very sensible with my use of English so I hope not to put my foot in it too much).

updated SEP 3, 2009
posted by nila45
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