What time it is

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I recently read "No estoy seguro de la hora que es," and I know that the meaning is "I'm not sure what time it is." Two questions:

Does this form sound more natural than "No estoy seguro de qué hora sea"?

Is the subjunctive not used in this form because the "es" here refers to the actual time, rather than a hypothetical time? (That is, I'm asking about why we don't say "No estoy seguro de la hora que sea.")

3731 views
updated FEB 6, 2011
posted by 00bacfba

20 Answers

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samdie said:

lazarus1907 said:

samdie said:

I find all such etymologies that involve "cute" stories very suspect.

They are often called "popular etymologies", and many of them are probably wrong. One of the ones I like is "gringo", which is supposed to be from "green go!" from the Mexican-American war, but it seems that the American uniforms used in that battle were not green, but blue, plus the word existed centuries before that, and it is still used in some areas in Spain.

By the way, I didn't know that "suspect" could be an adjective too (now I do); I've always heard "suspicious".

The first etymology that I heard for "gringo" was that it derived from the song "Green Grow the Rushes, O"

(or "rashes" in Scots dialect [Robert Burns wrote a number of bawdy verses for it]).

As for "suspect" as an adjective, I suspect that many/most English-speakers would consider it a bit old fashioned. Since I was replying to James (and the same considerations apply when I'm addressing you), I didn't feel any need to "hold back".

suspect as an adjective occurs often enough (especially in newspapers, etc.), but it doesn't mean precisely the same thing as suspicious.

After a handwriting expert was called in, the authenticity of the documents became suspect.
After noticing several inconsistencies in Joe's report, we because suspicious that he may have been the culprit.

You cannot interchange the words here.

updated OCT 1, 2008
posted by Natasha
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James Santiago said:

My grandmother, who was from the state of Kentucky (a very rural state, with mountainous regions that were cut off from cultural and linguistic changes for a long time), used to talk about her truck garden. This was in distinction to her main garden, which was used to supply food for the family. The truck garden gave produce intended for the market, and truck here shares its roots with the Spanish trocar, to barter. This is also where we get our expression "I have no truck with him."
Now that's my idea of a plausible etymology!

updated OCT 1, 2008
posted by samdie
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lazarus1907 said:

samdie said:

I find all such etymologies that involve "cute" stories very suspect.

They are often called "popular etymologies", and many of them are probably wrong. One of the ones I like is "gringo", which is supposed to be from "green go!" from the Mexican-American war, but it seems that the American uniforms used in that battle were not green, but blue, plus the word existed centuries before that, and it is still used in some areas in Spain.

By the way, I didn't know that "suspect" could be an adjective too (now I do); I've always heard "suspicious".


The first etymology that I heard for "gringo" was that it derived from the song "Green Grow the Rushes, O"
(or "rashes" in Scots dialect [Robert Burns wrote a number of bawdy verses for it]).

As for "suspect" as an adjective, I suspect that many/most English-speakers would consider it a bit old fashioned. Since I was replying to James (and the same considerations apply when I'm addressing you), I didn't feel any need to "hold back".

updated OCT 1, 2008
posted by samdie
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lazarus1907 said:

That's very interesting, indeed! Hi-jack!! What about the etymology of truck? It is believed that it comes from Latin trochus (Greek trokhos, wheel), a kind of ring that children used to play. In Spanish "troco" is the name of a fish that has almost a circular shape.

Of course, samdie and you are probably the only two who may be interested in something like this. Everyone else must be wondering what are we trying to accomplish with all this.

My grandmother, who was from the state of Kentucky (a very rural state, with mountainous regions that were cut off from cultural and linguistic changes for a long time), used to talk about her truck garden. This was in distinction to her main garden, which was used to supply food for the family. The truck garden gave produce intended for the market, and truck here shares its roots with the Spanish trocar, to barter. This is also where we get our expression "I have no truck with him."

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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samdie said:

I find all such etymologies that involve "cute" stories very suspect.

They are often called "popular etymologies", and many of them are probably wrong. One of the ones I like is "gringo", which is supposed to be from "green go!" from the Mexican-American war, but it seems that the American uniforms used in that battle were not green, but blue, plus the word existed centuries before that, and it is still used in some areas in Spain.

By the way, I didn't know that "suspect" could be an adjective too (now I do); I've always heard "suspicious".

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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It is, indeed, interesting but I must confess that I find all such etymologies that involve "cute" stories very suspect. The OED simply says "origin unknown" and I'm inclined to go along with that. The OED also says that it was formerly "highjack" although all of their citations have it spelled "hijack" (or "hi-jack"), which would argue against the salutation "Hi!" (albeit not forcefully, absent actual quotations).

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by samdie
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That's very interesting, indeed! Hi-jack!!
What about the etymology of truck? It is believed that it comes from Latin trochus (Greek trokhos, wheel), a kind of ring that children used to play. In Spanish "troco" is the name of a fish that has almost a circular shape.
Of course, samdie and you are probably the only two who may be interested in something like this. Everyone else must be wondering what are we trying to accomplish with all this.

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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Regarding the word hijack: Samdie, you and Lazarus are possibly the only two people on this forum who may be interested to learn that this word was an American coinage, probably from the 1920's, and while its etymology is uncertain, there is an interesting theory that it arose from someone requesting a lift (ride) on a truck or car by calling out "Hi, Jack," until this was used as a trick by robbers who wanted to steal the truck or car. This may have arisen from a similar but distinct usage by seamen who were robbed by prostitutes in former centuries in London. Prostitutes would call out "Hi, Jack" to passing sailors. Instead of receiving the services they expected, some sailors were instead robbed by an accomplice.

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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samdie said:

Muinto obrigado (I hope that I have that right since it's the only thing that I think I know how to say in Portuguese.)

"Muito" doesn't have an N: it comes from Latin "multus" (as you probably know).

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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P.S. to James, it was not my intention to hijack your thread; apologies.

Threadjacking is only when someone starts a new thread by replying to an existing one. Your comments have all been made in the natural course of the thread, so no need to apologize. It was an interesting side trip.

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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lazarus1907 said:

samdie said:

But are you saying that in Spanish there is a strong preference for couching both verbs in the present (or, further, that you find the use of the future tense, awkward/incorrect)?

The future sounds... a slightly strange in that sentence, but not wrong.


Muinto obrigado (I hope that I have that right since it's the only thing that I think I know how to say in Portgese.)
P.S. to James, it was not my intention to hijack your thread; apologies.

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by samdie
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samdie said:

But are you saying that in Spanish there is a strong preference for couching both verbs in the present (or, further, that you find the use of the future tense, awkward/incorrect)?

The future sounds... a slightly strange in that sentence, but not wrong.

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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lazarus1907 said:


Of course! I can only suggest that (by way of an explanation, not an excuse) that in New York we are well into the "cocktail hour" (hour of preprandial libations'). We, too, could use the present/future for begins/ends in this context (including any permutations of tenses). But are you saying that in Spanish there is a strong preference for couching both verbs in the present (or, further, that you find the use of the future tense, awkward/incorrect)'

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by samdie
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samdie said:

"es" not "será"? As you pointed out/acknowledged, the movie hasn't even started yet!

Not necessarily: the present tense does not automatically imply the present moment; this is a misconception. The present tense indicative is used to declare things that we regard to be true (from our point of view), whether they are in the past, the present, or the future. You know that the start time of the movie is at 8 (or whatever), regardless of what's the present time. Funny enough, the present tense is not used with verbs describing progressive actions viewed in the middle of their development, even if that moment is the present moment.

"La película empieza a las ocho" is a perfect sentence.

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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lazarus1907 said:

samdie said:

How about "I'll meet you when the movie gets out but I don' know what hour that will be."? Te encontraré cuando se termine la pelicula pero no sé a que hora será/sea. (or something else).

In Spain you can only say "...cuando termine la película" and "no sé a qué hora es", because you can't declare that the movie is finished (it hasn't even started yet!), but you do "declaras" the question: ¿A qué hora es'".


"es" not "será"? As you pointed out/acknowledged, the movie hasn't even started yet!

updated SEP 30, 2008
posted by samdie