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Old 23rd September 2008, 10:52 AM   #1
delgado
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Default sometimes it makes no sense to me

In this case why do we use the subjuntive in the negative and not in the positive???

no creo que haya .......

but....

creo que hay.......

surely there is an element of doubt to both of them as you are using the verb creer?
I put this to my girlfriend(who normally blinds me with gramatics at any given oppertunity hehe) and after looking at me blankly for a second she replied with the proverbial " porque si"

anyone else think that this is a strange use of grammar?
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Old 23rd September 2008, 11:17 AM   #2
greytop
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I believe - no doubt
I do not believe (but I may be wrong) - doubt

Well that's how I rationalise it.

Interestingly my Big Book of Verbs translates creo as I believe and no creo as I don't think.
No creo que tenga razón - I don't think he's right
Creen en Dios - They believe in God
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Old 23rd September 2008, 12:03 PM   #3
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Although that expression of doubt thing is always cited it is not always the case that doubt is necessarily involved.
Here is another take on it which you may (or may not) find useful by a serial poster of some grammatical intellect known as lazarus -it was a slightly different example but I think it applies well:

Ok... here is when my rather symplistic approach (not invented by me, of course) explains the whole thing:

If you declare something in a subordinate, you must use indicative; otherwise, subjunctive.

You can say "Creo que viene" if you declare that someone is coming, but it doesn't make sense if you say "No creo que viene", as you are stating that you don't believe something that you just declared!!!

However, if you use the 2nd or 3rd person, you can say "(Él) no cree que es inteligente", because YOU declare it, even though HE doesn't believe it. That's why the article says that the declaration of speaker and the statement in the main sentence must belong to different people. Of course, you can say "(Él) no cree que sea inteligente" if you just prefer to avoid making any declaration, which is the most common option.

In "No creo que se dice", you are declaring that "se dice algo", but then you are stating that you don't believe what you declare. Nonsense! It is bad Spanish!

Is my explanation of any help?

Last edited by tad; 23rd September 2008 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 12:12 PM   #4
Legazpi
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This is quite a useful list of ways to express doubt with the subjunctive:

http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/subj6.htm
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Old 23rd September 2008, 12:18 PM   #5
delgado
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I see what you are saying and in some contexts that makes perfect sense,however...

"no creo que haya servicios aqui" / "creo que hay sevicios aqui"
"I don't think that there are tiolets here"/"I believe that there are tiolets here"

surely there is some degree of doubt in both these statements as if there was no doubt in your mind you would just say...

"hay servicios aqui "
"there are tiolets here"
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Old 23rd September 2008, 12:25 PM   #6
Legazpi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tad View Post


...

However, if you use the 2nd or 3rd person, you can say "(Él) no cree que es inteligente", because YOU declare it, even though HE doesn't believe it. That's why the article says that the declaration of speaker and the statement in the main sentence must belong to different people. Of course, you can say "(Él) no cree que sea inteligente" if you just prefer to avoid making any declaration, which is the most common option.

...

Is my explanation of any help?
Yes this has been a help. I wasn't aware that you could use the indicative after the third person in this way.

So, am I right in thinking that if you say "(Él) no cree que es inteligente", you are at the same time saying the following two things?:

1 That he does not believe he is intelligent
2 That YOU believe that he is intelligent (implied from the use of the indicative)

OTOH if you say "(Él) no cree que sea inteligente", you are at the same time saying the following two things?:

1 That he does not believe he is intelligent
2 That YOU do not believe that he is intelligent either (implied from the use of the subjunctive)

I'd be interested to know because this would enhance my understanding of the subjunctive.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 12:32 PM   #7
Legazpi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delgado View Post
I see what you are saying and in some contexts that makes perfect sense,however...

"no creo que haya servicios aqui" / "creo que hay sevicios aqui"
"I don't think that there are tiolets here"/"I believe that there are tiolets here"

surely there is some degree of doubt in both these statements as if there was no doubt in your mind you would just say...

"hay servicios aqui "
"there are tiolets here"
Yes there is a degree of doubt in both statements, however I think the "I believe..." statement does not have a sufficient level of doubt to warrant the use of the subjunctive. The way I look at it is that there is some imaginary threshold of doubt you need to cross before you start using the subjunctive.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 01:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legazpi View Post
So, am I right in thinking that if you say "(Él) no cree que es inteligente", you are at the same time saying the following two things?:

1 That he does not believe he is intelligent
2 That YOU believe that he is intelligent (implied from the use of the indicative)

OTOH if you say "(Él) no cree que sea inteligente", you are at the same time saying the following two things?:

1 That he does not believe he is intelligent
2 That YOU do not believe that he is intelligent either (implied from the use of the subjunctive)
You might want to follow the whole thread through as some of this is also included and I am struggling with it myself

also

and even

I'm going to have another try to understand it as well.

Last edited by tad; 23rd September 2008 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 01:20 PM   #9
delgado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tad View Post
Although that expression of doubt thing is always cited it is not always the case that doubt is necessarily involved.
Here is another take on it which you may (or may not) find useful by a serial poster of some grammatical intellect known as lazarus -it was a slightly different example but I think it applies well:

Ok... here is when my rather symplistic approach (not invented by me, of course) explains the whole thing:

If you declare something in a subordinate, you must use indicative; otherwise, subjunctive.

You can say "Creo que viene" if you declare that someone is coming, but it doesn't make sense if you say "No creo que viene", as you are stating that you don't believe something that you just declared!!!

However, if you use the 2nd or 3rd person, you can say "(Él) no cree que es inteligente", because YOU declare it, even though HE doesn't believe it. That's why the article says that the declaration of speaker and the statement in the main sentence must belong to different people. Of course, you can say "(Él) no cree que sea inteligente" if you just prefer to avoid making any declaration, which is the most common option.

In "No creo que se dice", you are declaring that "se dice algo", but then you are stating that you don't believe what you declare. Nonsense! It is bad Spanish!

Is my explanation of any help?

Very interesting tad thanks for posting it !!

Also ,thanks to everyone else that have posted replies !!
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Old 23rd September 2008, 02:31 PM   #10
Legazpi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tad View Post
You might want to follow the whole thread through as some of this is also included and I am struggling with it myself

also

and even

I'm going to have another try to understand it as well.
Thanks for the links Tad. You have definitely piqued my interest in this.

Grammar geekdom here I come!
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Old 23rd September 2008, 09:42 PM   #11
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Various approaches have been proposed to tackling the problem of predicting the distribution of mood in Spanish, such as the correlation between assertion (i.e. 'declaring' something, as mentioned earlier) and mood. Others involve notions such as 'presupposition', Relevance Theory, and Mental Spaces, to name a few.

Quote:
Returning now to the case mentioned at the outset — namely that of the statement of an objective fact with no associated emotional subtext — the choice of mood can actually be used to convey extra information to the listener (or reader) concerning the significance of that fact. Such a meta level of information, or commentary about the sentence, serves to reduce the processing cost on the part of the listener in comprehending the intent of the text and can be used to signal whether or not the fact is considered by the speaker to be relevant in itself (or, using an information-theoretic analogy, to have a high information content). If the fact is being introduced as new information, then it is considered to be relevant. If, on the other hand, the speaker assumes that the listener is already aware of it — either from the previous context or from common knowledge — then the information content is usually much lower and it is not considered especially noteworthy in itself.

The issue of mood choice in this particular case has been the subject of some investigation (e.g. Woehr , Lipski , Krakusin and Cedeño ) and is part of the wider question of predicting the distribution of mood in Spanish, for which various generalisations have been put forward. For example, Terrell and Hooper proposed a correlation between assertion and mood, in which the indicative is linked to assertion and the subjunctive to non-assertion. Lunn applied models from relevance theory to Spanish and demonstrated a relationship between the choice of mood and the information value of the proposition. Mejías-Bikandi revisited Terrell and Hooper’s correlation and proposed a modified definition of assertion, in which the intent of the speaker is taken into account, in order to cater for the exceptions to the generalisation. This decouples assertion from presupposition (traditionally viewed as being mutually exclusive), and his theoretical framework involves the concept of nested sets of propositions , or Mental Spaces . This pragmatic notion of assertion is one in which a proposition is asserted when the speaker intends to point out that it describes reality as perceived by an individual — either the speaker or someone else — i.e. when the proposition is contained within a mental space forming a subset of the speaker’s own mental space. Mejías-Bikandi also informally posited a relation between the notions of (pragmatic) assertion and relevance. Jary , citing Kempson and Guitart , highlighted the distinction between semantic and pragmatic presupposition and also noted the independence of pragmatic assertion from semantic presupposition. The main thrust of his relevance-theoretic account of mood distribution is that whereas the indicative can, but is not necessarily, used to present a proposition as being “relevant in its own right”, the subjunctive cannot.

Woehr established a correlation between the position within the sentence of the factive clause and the use of mood, with the subjunctive being used in factive clauses in an initial position, and either the indicative or the subjunctive being used when it comes after the main verb. Lunn demonstrated a correlation between choice of mood and the information value of the propositions, with the subjunctive marking low information content and the indicative high content. She also noted that in a style peculiar to journalism information that is assumed already to be known by the reader is, in a similar vein, often marked by the use of the past subjunctive.

Krakusin and Cedeño developed these results further by undertaking a particular study of actual usage in which the entire context was taken into careful consideration. This was based on the analysis of the output of a single source, namely the articles published in Visión written between 1981 and 1991 by the controversial Argentinian academic, writer, journalist and television presenter Mariano Grondona . They provided evidence for a high correlation between the choice of mood in the factive clause, its position in the sentence, and whether it provides new (significant) or old (less significant) information. They found that the el hecho de que noun clause tends to appear before the main verb of the sentence, as its subject, and using the subjunctive mood when the fact is presupposed, that is considered by the speaker as already known by the listener and not being put forward as new information; and after the main verb, as its complement, and using the indicative mood when the fact is being brought to the foreground, that is considered as having a much higher information value. This ties in with the fact that background information is often placed early on in a sentence in order to establish the topic, or theme, and is followed by the rheme, or foreground comment on the theme. The use of the indicative therefore highlights the importance of the point, whereas the subjunctive deemphasises the point. Exceptions to these rules were encountered in cases where there was some stylistic reordering at play. Furthermore, other instances were also found where information already known by both speaker and listener was marked by the indicative — the overriding factor being the emphasis placed by the speaker upon the fact: the use of the indicative is employed as a device to focus the listener’s attention on what is considered to be important. This is consistent with Mejías-Bikandi’s pragmatic interpretation of assertion as being independent of presupposition. The speaker’s intention is to highlight the shared knowledge rather than to comment on it as background information.

Lipski previously pointed out, however, that there is not an overwhelming consistency in actual usage by native speakers, and furthermore stated that some speakers only use this type of construction in more formal styles and in so doing tend to apply the ‘rule’ that the subjunctive is always required (as also implied by Butt and Benjamin’s mention, described earlier, of a ‘rule of Spanish grammar’). Lipski quoted Fente et al. who observed that in most cases both moods could be used interchangeably, and that there was, however, a marked preference for the use of subjunctive in careful speech.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 09:48 PM   #12
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I don't suppose you fancy posting a précis of that, do you?
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Old 23rd September 2008, 10:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by eldeano View Post
I don't suppose you fancy posting a précis of that, do you?
Right you are, then. Here goes:

Sometimes you use the subjunctive. Sometimes you don't.

Although I rather fear it might have lost a certain no sé qué in the process.

Actually, that item is from a piece on so-called factive clauses, such as el hecho de que..., which are interesting as there is certainly no 'doubt' involved, nor is there necessarily any emotive reaction, and yet very often the verb in the clause appears in the subjunctive.
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Old 24th September 2008, 12:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gastephen View Post
Sometimes you use the subjunctive. Sometimes you don't.
Got it now you put it like that!!
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Old 24th September 2008, 04:38 PM   #15
delgado
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Originally Posted by gastephen View Post
Right you are, then. Here goes:

Sometimes you use the subjunctive. Sometimes you don't.

Although I rather fear it might have lost a certain no sé qué in the process.

Actually, that item is from a piece on so-called factive clauses, such as el hecho de que..., which are interesting as there is certainly no 'doubt' involved, nor is there necessarily any emotive reaction, and yet very often the verb in the clause appears in the subjunctive.
So it looks like my Girlfriend was bang on with her answer of "porque si"then. hehehe
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