HomeQ&ALesson 4.6 Present and Past perfect subjunctives: hayan comprado

Lesson 4.6 Present and Past perfect subjunctives: hayan comprado

2
votes

"Es bueno que los carpinteros hayan comprado sierras nuevas." (no context given)

This is the example sentence in the video. I'm having trouble understanding how "hayan" makes sense with "comprado." Paralee says it has to be "hayan" because "es" is in the present tense.

But in my mind, the only thing that makes sense would be "hubieran comprado." It is good that they had (already) bought new saws (since [unfortunate event] just happened).
Otherwise, it'd be: it's good that they have bought new saws (where bought doesn't make sense because it's a one-time completed event, that being ended, has no meaning in continuing on to the present.) In which case you would simply say, "It's good that they bought new saws." (Es bueno que los carpinteros compraran sierras nuevas)?

Is my error in my logical reasoning, or is it in my translation? Or does Spanish simply have grammatical rules that supersede any English-grammar-type-logic upon translation?

4403 views
updated JUN 11, 2010
posted by ragef

7 Answers

1
vote

Saying "It is good that they have bought new saws." breaks this rule, because the judgment phrase "it is good that" automatically delineates that the rest of the sentence is about a specific event.

I don't believe that statement is valid.

It is good that I have visited Spain. There is no specified time mentioned. We don't know if I've visited Spain on many occasions or only once. It does not automatically delineate a specific event.

That I have visited Spain may address only a specific topic, but it does not address a specific event. You are making arguments using valid facts, but then stating your own conclusions as if they were fact.

I don't wish to be offensive, you overall conclusion may be correct, but you're not providing any valid arguments.

This may be of some interest to you.

You should be aware, however, that the Spanish present perfect tense should not always be thought of as the equivalent of the English present perfect tense. In many regions, it can be used as the equivalent of the English simple past tense. Sometimes the context will make this clear:

  • Ha llegado hace un rato. She arrived a little bit ago.
  • Cuando lo he visto no he podido creerlo. When I saw it I couldn't believe it.
  • Leo la carta que me han escrito esta mañana. I am reading the letter they wrote to me this morning.

But even where the context doesn't dictate so, the present perfect can be the equivalent of the English preterite, also known as the simple past. This is especially true for events that occurred very recently. You're also more likely to hear the present perfect used in this way in Spain than in most of Latin America, where the preterite may be preferred (e.g., llegó hace un rato).

This may help explain some of your sentences where you mention that the past tense rather than the present perfect would be used in English.

updated JUN 11, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Awesome, perfect! - ragef, JUN 11, 2010
1
vote

Uses. The present perfect subjunctive is used in the same types of clauses as the present subjunctive, and normally is used: to indicate the action as completed with governing verbs in the present or future tense or command forms. Examples:

updated JUN 10, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Thanks. I'm going to make a reply post, since it won't fit in the comments. - ragef, JUN 10, 2010
1
vote

I believe you answered your own question. You have to use Spanish grammatical rules even though it may not make sense in English. The video is correct. "Es bueno que" automatically requires a present subjunctive, just like "Es necesario que", "Es precicso que", "Quiero que", and many more because the main verb is in the present tense. Past perfect subjectives can be used, you just have to change the tense of your main verb. "Fue bueno que los carpinteros hubieran comprado sierras nuevas." Of course, that changes the meaning slightly from "It is good" to "It was good". It just depends on what you want to say. These rules for subjuctives are always correct, even if it doesn't seem right in English.

updated JUN 10, 2010
posted by sjanner
Awesome, thanks! - ragef, JUN 10, 2010
0
votes

Okay, you are right. While it would seem that discussing the event of having bought saws would be referring to a specific event in nearly every natural dialogue leading up to this statement, it isn't necessarily so. (The sole exception being that the event of buying saws is being referred to as an accomplishment): "It's good that they have bought new saws," (So now they know where the saw store is; ) where the actual act of buying of saws is not the focus of the statement but rather an experience/accomplishment from which to draw on in the present.

(Note that this is also the same exception as your example above [naturally, since it is the only exception in English] -- where visiting Spain would be an accomplishment more naturally suited to being a beneficial experience to draw on in the present.)

Anyway, you are right. It is possible to evaluate the past using the present perfect in English. smile

Thanks for clearing up that the present perfect can be used in Spanish as the simple past. That makes perfect sense now. I will also accept that Spanish does have more strict rules regarding agreement and sequence of tenses, disallowing the combination of simple present and past perfect in the same sentence.

Muchas gracias.

updated JUN 11, 2010
edited by ragef
posted by ragef
0
votes

I suggest that you read some articles on the past perfect in English. It is used when the main verb is in the past; not the present as in your example. Pay attention to the time line in these articles.

past perfect English

English Past perfect

I was glad that she had arrived.

updated JUN 10, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
0
votes

The present perfect in English discusses the past ambiguously from the present state. The past perfect discusses the past in relation to the past. The past tense is used to discuss specific events in the past.

[In English, there is also the possibility to use the past perfect from the perspective of the present. As in my example: It is good that she had arrived before John got there. Or: It is good that they had purchased the saws before they got to the job site.]

In English, one cannot use the present perfect to discuss a specific event. (Which is the whole reason it is a separate tense.) We can only use the past tense for discussing a past event specifically . Saying "It is good that they have bought new saws." breaks this rule, because the judgment phrase "it is good that" automatically delineates that the rest of the sentence is about a specific event. Therefore in English we would say, "It's good that they bought new saws." (We are able to evaluate the past [even ambiguously] from the present.)

I was told that this is not possible in Spanish. This is what my question was about.

According to the Spanish lesson, the evaluative (subjunctive) phrase "Es bueno que" necessitates that the present perfect (subjunctive) tense be used rather than the past perfect (subjunctive) tense. This is the exact opposite of how English works. (If that is indeed the totality of the rule.) I was simply asking for clarification of whether or not I am correctly understanding this delineation.

However, since I'm sure I'm the only person that cares to this extent about the structure, scope, and limitations of language, I will try to let this go.

grin

updated JUN 10, 2010
edited by ragef
posted by ragef
0
votes

But if she had already left... "Me alegro de que ella haya llegado." wouldn't make sense. (At least in English)

You would need to be able to say "I'm glad that she HAD arrived (before _________ happened)." Which is the same format as wanting to say "Es bueno que los carpinteros hubieran comprado sierras nuevas."

My hypothetical "if she had already left" makes this new example the same as saying, "It's good that they have bought new saws," since the act of purchasing the saws has (of necessity) come and gone by the time that it could possibly be "good" that they purchased them.

I guess I just need clarification that this is an inherent limitation of Spanish (or rather a different way of understanding the same concept) rather than it being a matter of me simply misinterpreting what the tense is actually about.

updated JUN 10, 2010
posted by ragef
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.
© Curiosity Media Inc.