HomeQ&AHow important is it to know the second version of the imperfect subjunctive?

How important is it to know the second version of the imperfect subjunctive?

3
votes

I am focusing on the subjunctive once again and something is confusing me. I have read several different books and checked here as well. With the imperfect subjunctive, there are two different versions. According to what I have read, either version is acceptable and correct. In the reference section, it says that the second version is used mostly for written Spanish and mostly in Spain. The conjugation tool only shows the first version of the past perfect subjunctive.

So I would like to know if it is even necessary for me to learn or memorize version #2. Apart from Heidi, I communicate with no one in Spain. Even if she introduced me to all of her friends wink cheese, how important would it be for me to need to second version?

¡Gracias por adelantado!!

2262 views
updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Nicole-B

13 Answers

1
vote

Estoy interesada en saber la opinión de alguien que habla fluido. ¿Necesito saber ambas versiones del subjuntivo?

Pues no, en realidad no. Primero he tenido que pararme a pensar a qué te refererías, jeje

Andara o andase

comiera o comiese

La forma ase ese no se usa apenas, excepto en escritos, a veces en broma:

Pues no sé..... si fueramos o fuesemos más deprisa...¿qué tal?

this is ironic as to how slow the other guy is walking...but don't worry about it, just an example.

Conclusion:

No, don't learn the two forms unless you wish to, we normally only use the ara/iera form.

And the only way to really learn: ¡¡¡¡Post in Spanish!!

this is meant for everybodywink

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by 00494d19
Muchas gracias Heidi. Ahora, lo entiendo. - Nicole-B, NOV 13, 2009
4
votes

I would say don't worry about it. Concentrate on the -ara, -aras, -ara business first; that's a challenge right there! Once those forms roll off your tongue like melted butter (cue the "Laugh" card!), you can worry about the -iese forms.

Plus - nightmare alert - there are also -iera forms out there in some Spanish literature!

Adelante!

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by mountaingirl123
Gracias Mountaingirl. That is the answer that makes most sense. I just want to make sure I won't regret my decision to learn both versions. - Nicole-B, NOV 12, 2009
Well, since you know that the second version exisits, you will sort of be learning it alongside the first version...even if you don't concentrate on it! - mountaingirl123, NOV 12, 2009
I agree with Mountaingirl.....I didn't intend to learn it, but just being aware of its existence has instilled it in my reading. - sunshinzmommie, NOV 13, 2009
2
votes

I'm probably the odd ball here, but I really don't see the point in learning something you're not going to use. Of course, if you're a teacher and you will some day be teaching 'imperfect subjunctives' to students that will never use them, that's an entirely different thing LOL

Ok, maybe I'm being a bit tongue-in-cheek. In my own experience, I've met two people from Spain. The Spanish speaking people I typically encounter, at church for example, are from Mexico, Central or South America. I read 'vosotros' verbs in my Bible, but we don't speak that way to each other.

For now, I am learning to speak the language, I learn the rules as I need them. I'm pretty sure there's not going to be any of the subjunctive stuff going around tongue wink

I really do admire people that have mastered a language and know all the rules, but for me, I never mastered English. A friend of mine here in South Georgia said "English is our second language", so I guess Spanish is third for me!

In the last year and a half that I've been learning Spanish, I'm happier that a pig in slop that I can conjugate Spanish verbs and actually use the past 'perfect' and 'imperfect' tenses, and wow, even one of the future tenses in conversation.

Sherlock Holmes told Dr. Watson that your mind was like an attic, filled with furniture and clutter. When it was full and you tried to add something to it, something else fell out. There's only a finite amount of capacity according to Sherlock, so, with that in mind, every time I learn new Spanish words, I feel like I lose one or two English ones. Ah, I wonder if Sherlock was right...... tongue rolleye

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Jack-OBrien
Thank you so much for your input Jack. I see your point. I do want to learn the subjunctive because it is used all the time. I know the vosotros form is used mostly in Spain, but I did learn that because it helps when I am reading my Bible. - Nicole-B, NOV 12, 2009
There is so much to learn. I just want to make sure I focus on what I really need first. Then I can go back and dabble with the rest. - Nicole-B, NOV 12, 2009
1
vote

And I guess that is the nut I am trying to crack, those kids won't learn 'formally' until later in school. Somehow, they can communicate fairly well

On the whole, (with respect to ones own language) one doesn't learn to communicate in school. You may well stretch/increase you vocabulary, you may learn to avoid some "frowned upon" expressions/constructions but most of your usage of language will have been determined before you even start school. Spanish speaking children are quite adept at using the subjunctive before going to school (although they may be [probably are] incapable of defining the subjunctive, much less explaining why they are using it).

An English-speaking 1st grader can tell you that "I like candy." is better than "Me like candy." It is, however, unlikely that he would suggest that the subject pronoun, not the objective pronoun, should be used (and even less likely that he would say that the subject of the verb should be in the nominative rather than the accusative).

What those children have done is learn thousands of expressions and infer "rules"/patterns from them that they apply to their own original utterances. One doesn't say to a five-year old "You should use the subjunctive in that sentence." one says "Don't say X, say Y." There are teaching philosophies based on that observation/method. However a problem with second-language learners (unless they're are quite young) is that they will often demand to know why X is wrong (or Y is better) and they rebel against being told "Don't worry about why, just do it!"

Grammar rules/books/theories were not developed simply to allow some "teachers" to dictate/impose their own arbitrary notions about language on others (although there are, no doubt, some teachers who would prefer it that way). They arose from attempts to explain why something was said in a certain way; to identify/classify regularities/ recurring patterns in language instead of leaving each learner to figure out for himself what the patterns are.

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by samdie
1
vote

Pues soy de España, y a lo mejor es diferente en otros países hispanohablantes, pero aquí no es importante que lo sepas usar, sino que lo puedas entender. O sea, sería un poco raro si alguien usase esa forma y tú no la entendieras. (Esta frase es un buen ejemplo del uso. Ves que no es necesario pero sí se usa en la conversación normal, y debes entenderla)

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by asdfghjkl4
0
votes

Spanish speaking children are quite adept at using the subjunctive before going to school (although they may be [probably are] incapable of defining the subjunctive, much less explaining why they are using it).

I agree on Samdie's point here. For awhile, I was under the impression that use of the subjunctive was the holy grail of Spanish. The reason for this was that several "books" told me it was. Lazarus was the one who finally set me straight. Now that I am looking for it and listening for it...the subjunctive is everywhere. I just don't want to worry about the one form of the subjunctive that is rarely used, since I still have so much to learn.

Grammar rules/books/theories were not developed simply to allow some "teachers" to dictate/impose their own arbitrary notions about language on others (although there are, no doubt, some teachers who would prefer it that way). They arose from attempts to explain why something was said in a certain way; to identify/classify regularities/ recurring patterns in language instead of leaving each learner to figure out for himself what the patterns are.

This is also a unique perspective, which is true. I am very thankful for all of those who have figured out the rules and put them on paper. Because I don't spend 24 hours a day in a Spanish environment, I am dependent on the rules to continue my Spanish language education.

Thanks to all who have participated.

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
0
votes

I really do appreciate your thoughts Jack. But for me, I guess I am always hoping, wishing, dreaming...so I do need the subjunctive. You are right though, you really can get by for awhile without it. But I would like you to read this post from August. Pay particular attention to Lazarus' answer because that is what I want you to see. He set me straight and ever since, the subjunctive has been important to me. Where is Lazarus...we really need him!! confused smile Lazarus and the subjunctive

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
jeje, you tell him not us!!:P - 00494d19, NOV 13, 2009
Let's collect up all the comments where someone has said they miss Lazarus and MAIIL them to him! :) :D - Valerie, NOV 13, 2009
Good idea Valerie!! - Nicole-B, NOV 13, 2009
0
votes

I guess I am completely misunderstanding. In the examples that Lazarus gave,

He want picture. Picture be beautiful. Me sell me picture.

He said that he would have used the subjunctive at least twice, which further confuses me. If I'm interpreting his example correctly, I would say something like this:

Él quiere la pintura. La pintura está bonita. Me vende la pintura.

Of course, I wouldn't actually talk like that, maybe I should ask how my spanish sounds to folk.

I didn't mean to come off as trying to convince you not to learn the subjunctive and hope you understand I was just sharing my 'degrees of importance', which are worth nothing to anyone but me.

I guarantee you though, the 25 spanish speaking kids at my church that are less than 12 years old don't know what a subjunctive is.

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Jack-OBrien
Jack, listen closely, I bet they USE it all the time!! :) - Valerie, NOV 13, 2009
0
votes

but they use them all the time regardless

And I guess that is the nut I am trying to crack, those kids won't learn 'formally' until later in school. Somehow, they can communicate fairly well LOL

You know, in all seriousness, there are things sometimes that we just have to memorize, or at least be able to 'work the pattern', so to speak. When I first started learning to conjugate verbs I created a spreadsheet with about 125 of the most common verbs with the most commonly used tenses. Using the columns of the spreadsheet, I could visually see the patterns in conjugating regular and even irregular verbs. I suppose I could include the subjunctive on the chart as well. I have a large format photo printer, so I printed myself a 'verb conjugation poster' that's about 24x30 inches. Hoohah cool grin

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Jack-OBrien
0
votes

I completely understand what you are trying to say Jack. I wish I knew a better way to explain Lazarus' post to you. It is probably best to leave it to someone who is fluent. I also understand what you mean by "degrees of importance." I really appreciate your comments.

I guarantee you though, the 25 spanish speaking kids at my church that are less than 12 years old don't know what a subjunctive is.

I can guarantee that the English speaking kids at my church and even the teens (who I work with) don't know what a gerund is or what an infinitive is, but they use them all the time regardless. wink smile LOL (Just a thought.)

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
0
votes

I agree with Mountaingirl.....I didn't intend to learn it, but just being aware of its existence has instilled it in my reading. And, when in the company certain people ie, "intellectuals", it might be good to just throw it out there, jeje smile

Estoy de acuerdo com Mountaingirl. No tenía la intención de aprenderlo, pero justo porque yo era consciente de ello, puedo usarlo cuando estoy leyendo. Y cuando en la compañía de algunos, como los intelectuales, quizás puede usarlo!!

updated NOV 13, 2009
edited by sunshinzmommie
posted by sunshinzmommie
0
votes

Thank you so much for your input Jack. I see your point. I do want to learn the subjunctive because it is used all the time. I know the vosotros form is used mostly in Spain, but I did learn that because it helps when I am reading my Bible.

I really don't mean to sound like learning these things aren't important, it's always nice to be able to finesse the language. You're right, the subjunctive is used all the time by native speakers but I would submit that it's not used nearly so much among non-native spanish speakers.

In my learning, here's what I think is the most important regarding tenses.

In the Indicative: 1. Present 2. Preterite 3. Imperfect 4. Future

With 1-4 you can communicate well, you just can't 'finesse' the language, so, moving on, I think learning to conjugate in the Present Perfect tense makes sense, because now you can talk about the past, present and future as well as what you have done or what somebody had done, or maybe I just love using participles LOL

These were next in my order of learning: 1. Present Perfect 2. Past Perfect 3. Plu Perfect 4. Future Perfect

At this stage in the game I think one could communicate really well. Of course, to further 'finesse' the language, there's always the subjunctive

I don't ever want to discourage anyone from learning, even the esoteric stuff, but all my friends who are native spanish speakers have learned most if not all of the English they know by immersion. I only know a couple that have had formal English classes. Don't get me wrong, I accidentally use the subjunctive from time to time, but usually because I heard something in conversation, and I wonder, hmm, why did they say it like that? Anyway, that's just my rambling thoughts .....

Your mileage will probably vary wildly tongue wink

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Jack-OBrien
0
votes

Estoy interesado saber la opinión alguien que es fluido. ¿Necesito saber ambas versiones del subjuntivo?

Please correct any mistakes I have made in this request also. wink smile

updated NOV 13, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
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