All These Spanish Tenses ?

All These Spanish Tenses ?


I have not yet got on to the mood tenses but wonder as I read about them on here, would a relatively moderately educated or native spanish speaker with minimal education know and use all the tenses ? As I read people on here discussing the subtle differences between tenses I wonder how much of this is high brow theory and how many your day to day native speaker, and particuarly those with little formal education actually use.

No, I am not suggesting that most spanish people have little or no formal education, I am merely trying to establish if all these mood tenses are really in daily use and if so are they used universaly amongs the population or not.

updated SEP 27, 2009
posted by Stig345
This question was made for ChamacoMalo. If he doesn't answer, somebody go find him. - Goyo, SEP 27, 2009
I don't mean it was directed at him. But it's a ChacoMalo kind of question! - Goyo, SEP 27, 2009
Be careful! don't call a "mood" a tense if you wish to truly understand it all. There are tenses within moods! - Janice, SEP 27, 2009

2 Answers


From my experience, Spanish and English are no different on this.

Take for example the sentence in English,

I could have cleared it all up if I had had another chance to say something while she was getting ready, but she wouldn't have listened anyway had I stopped her to say something else.

There is some really complex verb tense and grammar stuff going on there, but the average English speaker wouldn't have any problem understanding it, or saying it, and at the same time...not have a clue what you're talking about if you explain this sentence using grammatical terms about the tenses involved, e.g. past-progressive, subjunctive,simple past, conditional etc.

I've chatted with a number of folks from Peru, Colombia, Chile, Spain, and some people I that I don't know where they are from...they all use subjunctive, for me one of the hardest to nail down...without skipping a beat. They learn the language the same way we do when young, by simply hearing it, and it becomes natural without needing the rules.

For us, same as for them, when learning a language "from scratch", the grammar helps you get a foot-hold. But there are other theories of learning out there, e.g. Berlitz, where you learn by that same natural "immersion" method we all "used" when we were toddlers learning our native language(s).

From my experience, they are used, and just as when someone trying to learn English says something "incorrectly" we can usually figure it out, native Spanish speakers usually get what you're trying to say from context. I know it can be a pain, but trust me it's worth it when you reach the point some of the stuff begins to be automatic, and your native speaking friends start to notice.

updated SEP 27, 2009
posted by arnold3

Yes Roger, native speakers do use all the 'mood tenses'. Native speakers of any language simply learn it from birth, in a very organic, non-technical way. Can you really analyze what you're doing in your own native tongue? You don't know what the different mechanisms of your speech are called (or do you? I dunno, maybe you've taken a lot of english courses and really payed attention during the grammar sections). You simply talk and your speech accommodates whatever it is that's going on in your brain in exactly the way you want to express it.

People learning spanish as a second language have not had this opportunity to be exposed to the language from birth. A lot are already adults, so you have to learn the different concepts and 'mood tenses' and conjugations, in a more technical, formal classroom manner, then apply them in the real world.


updated SEP 27, 2009
posted by Charlius
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