HomeQ&AImperfect Subjunctive/Past Perfect Subjunctive, Two Forms

Imperfect Subjunctive/Past Perfect Subjunctive, Two Forms

4
votes

Is there a difference between the two forms in the past subjunctive, the -ra and -se forms? I had thought that they were interchangeable. With "estar," for example, you could use either "estuviera" or "estuviese" or with the past perfect subjunctive, "hubiera estado" or "hubiese estado." However, I came across a sentence in a book I'm reading where the author uses both forms in the same sentence:

"Si me hubiese parado a pensarlo, hubiera comprendido que mi devoción por Clara no era más que una fuente de sufrimiento."

Why does the author use both forms? Is there, then, a difference?

Apologies if this is a question that has already been answered and if so, please just direct me to the answer.

Gracias a todos.

4399 views
updated SEP 1, 2010
posted by Tejedora

7 Answers

2
votes

You might read this thread that mentions why one or the other, or both of the forms together might be used.

ra or se

updated MAY 6, 2010
posted by 0074b507
1
vote

In the link that gfreed posted this is posted:

No son completamente intercambiables: La forma "-ra" del imperfecto de subjuntivo, por ejemplo, puede usarse como el condicional (excepto para suposiciones); la forma "-se" no:

Te habría invitado si hubiese tenido dinero

Te hubiera invitado si hubiese tenido dinero

Te hubiese invitado si hubiese tenido dinero (incorrect)

La Academia que dice que la forma "-se" solamente puede reemplazar a la forma en "-ra" en los casos en que ésta hace papel de subjuntivo.

Quote: En estos tiempos se han reunido dos formas de distinto origen; la forma en «-ra» (‘amara, hubiera amado’) procede del pretérito pluscuamperfecto de indicativo latino (amaveram) y la forma en «-se» (‘amase, hubiese amado’) del pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo (amavissem). © María Moliner

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Last edited by lazarus1907; 9th March 2006 at 05:11 PM.

"Si me hubiese parado a pensarlo, hubiera comprendido que mi devoción por Clara no era más que una fuente de sufrimiento."

If you had stopped to think about it (subjunctive) you would have understood (conditional)....

So, as the subjunctive both "hubiese" and "hubiera" can be used but "hubiese" is never used as the conditional. "Hubiera" can be used instead of "habría" as the conditional.

Great question. Can a native verify that I've understood this correctly? Thanks.

updated MAY 6, 2010
posted by alba3
Cool! That's what I figured from the sentence. - Luciente, MAY 6, 2010
0
votes

I had thought from previous comments by natives, that, even though, these forms are generally equal, that they have developed some uses or contexts where one is preferable to the other just from customary use over time.

It may be grammatically correct using either form but custom dictates using one or the other in a particular phrase or context. Otherwise, it sounds unnatural or awkward.

The same phenomenon occurs in all languages. Expressing something in a certain way becomes customary and using another method sounds strange or unacceptable.

updated SEP 1, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
0
votes

I read the (ra vs se) thread referenced above and have come away with the impression that using both in the same sentence (as in the initial question above) is an expresion of personal style, nothing more. Is that correct? Here's another example, written by a Mexican author. By the way, the accents are not working on my computer, sorry.

La indagacion de campo en torno al fenomeno en cuestion no fue todo lo profundo que hubiera podido ser, si hubiese sabido que iba precenciar un evento, que seria motivo de un trabajo etnografico.

At first I thought that the switch was to avoid a slight momentary ambiguity after a change of subject. But if that were the case it would have been enough to say si yo hubiera sabido que iba. Maybe the author just thought it sounded better to avoid redundancy of the sort seen in my hypothetical example below?

La indagacion de campo en torno al fenomeno en cuestion no fue todo lo profundo que hubiera podido ser, si hubiera sabido que iba precenciar un evento, que seria motivo de un trabajo etnografico.

Is it that simple? Any additional comments on this example?

updated SEP 1, 2010
posted by zetwal
0
votes

It looks like that 2nd "hubiera" should really be "habría". Perhaps when people substitute out conditional for imperfect subjunctive, they opt to use the -ra kind?

updated MAY 3, 2010
posted by Luciente
0
votes

In one of the video lessons, Paralee states that the "se" version is only used in some forms of written literature in Spain, but that the "ra" version is the most commonly used. So, I agree with indydidnaray.

updated MAY 3, 2010
posted by danrivera
0
votes

The "se" ending is used in spain. The other subjunctive is used most everywhere else I believe. I'm not sure why the author wrote it that way, but I'm sure it was due to some literate style and not rules.

updated MAY 3, 2010
edited by indysidnarayan
posted by indysidnarayan
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