HomeQ&Afuture subjunctive

future subjunctive

1
vote

Heidita said that my sentence was correct -- in another thread, yea! -- as follows:

Cuando (yo) sea famoso, los periodistas me harán muchas preguntas. / When I am famous, the journalists will ask me lots of questions.

So now, sorry, I have to ask: why doesn't this sentence take future subjunctive? I've hardly ever encountered future subjunctive (outside of the book 301 Spanish Verbs, which is a bit confusing), so I was looking forward to a real-life example. Can anyone give me a real-life example of when you would use the future subjunctive tense/aspect/mood (whatever it is)? --Something that you would say, not necessarily something you would write in a book.

6484 views
updated SEP 11, 2014
posted by Natasha

7 Answers

3
votes

Natasha, the name of the Spanish verbs in, too often, extremely inadequate and confusing: the present tense is used to talk about the past and the future, but not for describe progressive actions happening in the present. The so called "pretérito indefinido" is the most definite past tense of all, and in Spanish we use the present tense a lot of more than the future tense to talk about the future; and we use the future tense more to guess about the present. Don't let the name of the verbs mislead you, and avoid direct translations into English to understand the system.

Don't use the following explanations that I am going to give you literally to take every decision, but let me give you an deeper -and yet, alternative- view of the tenses. The present tense is used to talk about things we can state because we have certain control over them, but not necessarily to talk about what's happening right now. That's why we can use it to talk about the past: because it is factual information that we can safely state. If we are going to do something in the future, and we know we will for sure, because it is controlled in a way, we use it for the future: "El año que viene cumplo 20 años". The imperfect tense is the counterpart of the present tense, but in our minds, i.e. in most cases the past as if it was present, but also for imaginary situations, and more often than people think, for future in our mind too. The future tense is used to declare too, but making suppositions, both in present and future. If you say:

Cuando soy famoso, los periodistas me harán muchas preguntas.

It is illogical, because you have declared that you are famous (you use indicative) at certain times (so it must be in the past), and then, you are guessing that at those past times they will be asking you questions in the future. It doesn't make sense. Now:

Cuando sea famoso, los periodistas me harán muchas preguntas.

Here you haven't declared that you are famous, but nevertheless, when that times comes, if it does, you guess that you'll be asked lots of questions. Notice that in English I've said "when the times comes", using present tense; the difference is that in Spanish it must be subjunctive to avoid declaring it that you are famous. If you say:

Cuando fuera famoso, los periodistas me harían muchas preguntas.

That "fuera", like the imperfect indicative, is just in your mind, but undeclared, so the most likely interpretation is that it is all a dream, or something you thought in the past, but never came true. It is a completely hypothetical condition.

So, present and imperfect allow us to talk about virtual or hypothetical conditions both in the past, the present and the future. Why using future subjunctive, then? Well, it can be used too, for it doesn't add much to the meanings provided by the other subjunctive tenses; it actual fact, it can be used in certain sentences instead of the present subjunctive, imperfect subjunctive, so its use is redundant (or it was redundant, because it's almost disappeared). It is like the normal future, but without declaring, i.e. it makes suppositions, like we do with present and imperfect subjunctive. But, yes, you could have said:

Cuando fuere famoso, me harán muchas preguntas.

But don't even try to use it, because its meaning is slightly different, you are not going to find anyone who can even tell you whether it sounds correct or not. Basicall, it sounds ancient. Last time it was still used was in the 17th century, but nearly nothing after that, and now it is a dead tense.

Last words:

Notice that your English version doesn't use the future, but the present (I am):

:

Cuando (yo) sea famoso, los periodistas me harán muchas preguntas. / When I am famous, the journalists will ask me lots of questions.So now, sorry, I have to ask: why doesn't this sentence take future subjunctive?

Now, do you want to declare that clause as well? Do you want to say "I am famous"

updated SEP 18, 2014
posted by lazarus1907
That "the pretérito indefindo is the most definite past of all" is something I did not want to understand upon encountering it & I had to write it out ten times! maybe more. It still doesn't want to stick. So your putting it this way makes me smile:-) - Janice, AGO 15, 2009
1
vote

Nobody better than Lazarus to answer here....but I would simply say: never!

I am quite sure....not may people actually even know this tense...I mean natives...leave alone how to use it.

updated SEP 11, 2014
posted by 00494d19
0
votes

My Webster's New World Spanish Dictionary Pocket Edition does not include the Subjunctive for the Future or Future Perfect. I wonder if a Spanish company book publisher would have (subjunctive conditional perfect wink included it. I may buy another Spanish dictionary - from a Spanish based company - it makes me wonder what else was left out of my current one.

antLerS

updated SEP 11, 2014
posted by Larena
0
votes

As far as the English:
*
When I am famous . . .*

sounds more certain than the alternative:

If I become famous . . .

although still not certain. In any case, you cannot use the future tense here (too strange):

If I will be famous (something's wrong . . .)

Thank you for all the explanations, which I will try to remember. In the meantime, I have several pages to rip out of 301 Spanish Verbs. (Just Kidding!)

updated OCT 12, 2008
posted by Natasha
0
votes

Natasha said:

The example in 301 Spanish Verbs is:que yo amare / that I loveAre you saying no one talks like this?

Pues, sí, Nati...creo que no me pillo las manos si lo afirmo: nadie habla así. Mira lo que ha dicho Lazarus en otro hilo:

Future subjunctive and future perfect subjunctive are useless in modern Spanish, as not even natives know how to use them. You'll find them only in old sayings, twisted legal texts, and ancient novels. You can probably add the "pretérito anterior" to this list, which is rarely used.

updated OCT 11, 2008
posted by 00494d19
0
votes

The example in 301 Spanish Verbs is:

que yo amare / that I love

Are you saying no one talks like this'

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by Natasha
0
votes

Heidita said:

Nobody better than Lazarus to answer here....but I would simply say: never!

I am quite sure....not may people actually even know this tense...I mean natives...leave alone how to use it.

Aha! We have finally corrupted your language and you are all going to FORGET HOW TO USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE! Yea!! (just kidding)

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by Natasha
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