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Old 2nd January 2009, 01:48 PM   #61
delgado
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Originally Posted by Legazpi View Post
OK I think I'm following your line of thinking a bit better now. However I'm going to try to throw a spanner in the works...

Consider this phrase:

Me acuesto cuando se pone el sol

Here I'm saying that in general I go to bed when the sun sets. The phrase is grammatically correct (I hope) but it has nothing to do with any particular perception of reality, be it past or present. It doesn't relate to any particular time frame. So why don't I use the subjunctive?
I think (as gastephen said) that in the given example you are expressing your perception of a current reality and therefore it can be declared.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 01:59 PM   #62
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What about the following phrase? (similar to one of Barry's phrases in his post above):

El lunes pasado yo no iba a acostarme hasta que se pusiera el sol

(Last Monday I wasn't going to bed until the sun set)

I'm talking in the past tense, and using the subjunctive to refer to a subsequent event that also took place in the past (assuming the sun did set on Monday). At the time I couldn't perceive the sun setting, but I can now because it has happened.

BTW I think you are along the right lines in your understanding of the subjunctive mood (i.e. that it is related to subjectivity and things which don't necessarily exist in the world as we perceive it). I think the problem lies in turning that understanding into a hard and fast set of rules that can readily be explained without also having to write a thesis on the philosophy of mind.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 02:34 PM   #63
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However , there are still some examples where the idea of perception seems to fall short ,especially when talking about emotions "me alegro de que hayas ganado" (to quote Legazpi from an earlier post) amongst others that LAZARUS has already explained in previous posts.
This type of context involves 'commentary matrix clauses', in which you are commenting on some fact in the subordinate clause. In this case it comes back to the question of presupposed information. It is assumed that you already know the fact that "has ganado". My intention is therefore to inform you (i.e. provide new information) of my feeling about that fact and not to inform you (i.e. 'declare') of the fact itself (i.e. the old information).

If you said to someone "I'm glad you won" when they didn't already know they had won, the statement would be quite surprising. From what I've read, a play is possible where the rule that you don't declare the object of a comment is broken in order to simultaneously inform the listener of your comment and of the fact being commented upon: me alegro de que has ganado - would imply that I already knew that you didn't know that you had won.

I agree that this context doesn't quite seem to fit in with the idea of what is included in your perception of reality. However, as far as I know, 'declaración' is about the intent of the speaker to inform the listener about the state of affairs as perceived by the speaker.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 02:45 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Legazpi View Post
What about the following phrase? (similar to one of Barry's phrases in his post above):

El lunes pasado yo no iba a acostarme hasta que se pusiera el sol

(Last Monday I wasn't going to bed until the sun set)

I'm talking in the past tense, and using the subjunctive to refer to a subsequent event that also took place in the past (assuming the sun did set on Monday). At the time I couldn't perceive the sun setting, but I can now because it has happened.
This is the "antes de que always takes the subjunctive" type of rule. The reasons will the same as before (whatever they are ); the only difference now is that you are talking about the future in the past. Relative to some unspecified time last Monday, the setting of the sun was a future event.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 03:12 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Legazpi View Post
What about the following phrase? (similar to one of Barry's phrases in his post above):

El lunes pasado yo no iba a acostarme hasta que se pusiera el sol

(Last Monday I wasn't going to bed until the sun set)

I'm talking in the past tense, and using the subjunctive to refer to a subsequent event that also took place in the past (assuming the sun did set on Monday). At the time I couldn't perceive the sun setting, but I can now because it has happened.

BTW I think you are along the right lines in your understanding of the subjunctive mood (i.e. that it is related to subjectivity and things which don't necessarily exist in the world as we perceive it). I think the problem lies in turning that understanding into a hard and fast set of rules that can readily be explained without also having to write a thesis on the philosophy of mind.
Yes, I see your point and I think that when talking about past events this whole idea of perception can get a little hazy. However, in my mind "El lunes pasado yo no iba a acostarme " is a declaration of what you percieved yourself to be doing (or not as the case may be)at that point in time.To then make further declarations based on a future reality that you couldn't then perceive would make little sense , unless it were to make further comments.

Eg.
El lunes pasado yo no iba a acostarme hasta que se pusiera el sol... así que cuando el sol se pusó me acosté

A thesis on the philosophy of mind? Just the thought sends shivers down my spine

Last edited by delgado; 2nd January 2009 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 03:24 PM   #66
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Group A

Me acosté cuando se puso el sol
Me acuesto cuando se pone el sol
Me gustaría acostarme cuando se pone el sol

Group B

Me acostaré cuando se ponga el sol
Iba a acostarme cuando se pusiera el sol

Group A: My action or desire matches another independent action. I'm "declaring" the "bundle", if you like.
Group B: My decision/intention -a sort of "self-command"- about performing an action matches another independent action that is not my decision nor obeys my commands. [To trigger reflexion: In fact my decision means that I displaced my ability to make that decision and attribute it partly to the sun. In time, the sun will command me "go to sleep" and I'll obey because I command myself to obey. Don't you ever wonder how come first and third person to be alike when subjunctive is involved?]

Summarizing: I make a decision (or prediction, or guess, or many other activities) involving an action that depends on another action, an action that is not govern by me so is expressed using subjunctive . Is that action certain, probable, improbable? Who cares:

Me acostaré cuando se ponga el sol.
Me acostaré temprano cuando las ranas crien pelo.
Trabajará cuando se le dé la gana.

[English student, forggib my misteakes]
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Old 2nd January 2009, 03:41 PM   #67
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¡Hola Alec! Bienvenido al hilo y gracias por tu aportación.

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Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post

[English student, forggib my misteakes]
Jaja. Chay, clarow kay bos sos disculpated.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 04:44 PM   #68
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¡Hola Alec! Bienvenido al hilo y gracias por tu aportación.

Jaja. Chay, clarow kay bos sos disculpated.
Haha! Thank you G.

I was reading carefully all the post and couldn't resist. It was like looking at a bunch of new A350 and 787's flying in circles over a grassy field without being able to land, so many intelligent people discussing this topic. I'll always suggest a less intelligent approach to subjunctive. If 3, 5 and a half and 9 years old natives manage subjunctive quite well where advanced foreign students fail, I wouldn't say "how can be those kids so wrong?".

I'm now looking for another Internet reference about subjunctive as "no actions", but I seem not to be able to find it. I'll add it here to complete the excellent references cited along this thread.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 05:13 PM   #69
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Haha! Thank you G.

I was reading carefully all the post and couldn't resist. It was like looking at a bunch of new A350 and 787's flying in circles over a grassy field without being able to land, so many intelligent people discussing this topic. I'll always suggest a less intelligent approach to subjunctive. If 3, 5 and a half and 9 years old natives manage subjunctive quite well where advanced foreign students fail, I wouldn't say "how can be those kids so wrong?".
Menuda paradoja, ¿no? ;-) You are right, though. We are having to make up for a lack of the native speaker's intuitive feel with something more analytical.

Quote:
I'm now looking for another Internet reference about subjunctive as "no actions", but I seem not to be able to find it. I'll add it here to complete the excellent references cited along this thread.
¡Lo espero con impaciencia!

Un saludo cordial, G.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 06:37 PM   #70
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Grrr! I can't find it! It's an article from -I think- Hispania, a magazine published by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Well, I'll bump into it sooner or later.

That article states -in my words, any mistake or misinterpretation is solely mine- a theory about Spanish subjunctive and no-actions: departing from the negative form for commands (Ven/No vengas) we Spanish speakers use subjunctive to "kill" the acting part of a verb whenever we need it to shift (desfasar) a fact -the background/foreground approach you mentioned, Graham-, and some more things. The author classifies all the subjunctive mood in 4 groups and I found less "exceptions to the rule" with this approach -in spite of its "intelectuality"- than with the other one, that of "declaration".

There are some natural and common examples that pose no doubt to native speakers but can baffle the students. This is one of them:
- Supongamos que quieres ir a España...
- ¡No quiero ir a España!
- Bueno, pero supongamos que quisieras ir a España...
Some students, using the "after IOU comes CASH" approach and all those markers (emotion, likelihood, etc.), tend to explain "since he doesn't want to go, the trip turns unlikely, then subjunctive..." but this is not the case at all.

¿A declaration? "Supongamos que quisieras ir a España" is as declarative as "supongamos que quieres ir a España", though a narrower set of things might follow the declaration with imperfect. The no-action approach also fails here.

Imperfect subjunctive means here -aggresive point of view- "You don't want to play the game along with me? Well. You're out of it but the game still goes on! Now, just hear!". Many people, even native speakers look for a workaround and tell "significa 'supongamos que una persona como tú quisiera ir a España' " and being that person an innominated, the subjuctive is justified here. This seems to work, but in fact we don't make any change of subject, as that subjuctive means here -passive point of view- "Well, you're a person and you're entitled to not going, but for the sake of my argumentation I continue to use a symbol of you, not the very you".
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Old 2nd January 2009, 09:03 PM   #71
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Better late than never! This is the article

Hacia una única explicación
del subjuntivo aplicado
a la adquisición de E/LE


This is what the author states as a conclusion:

Quote:
Los cuatro usos básicos del subjuntivo que hemos visto en el presente estudio son:
  • No realización de la acción en relación con el momento de la acción principal. Acción presentada como hipotética:
    Esperábamos que hiciera buen tiempo.
  • No realización de la acción mediante el acto del habla. Acción presentada como ya conocida:
    Me alegra que hayas vuelto.
  • caso, clara intención de apuntar hacia la no existencia):
    No hay nadie que me quiera como tú.
  • No realización de la acción mediante el acto de habla, en el enunciado. El hablante no se compromete con la verdad:
    Aunque sepas conducir bien, ves con cuidado.
Los cuatro usos, pues, apuntan hacia una misma idea, que defiendo aquí como clave para la comprensión del subjuntivo: la no realización

...
Enjoy!
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Old 2nd January 2009, 09:43 PM   #72
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Great! Many thanks for the reference. (A little more light reading to look forward to ;-)
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Old 3rd January 2009, 11:36 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
Summarizing: I make a decision (or prediction, or guess, or many other activities) involving an action that depends on another action, an action that is not govern by me so is expressed using subjunctive .
Is that action certain, probable, improbable? Who cares

[English student, forggib my misteakes]
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
Spanish speakers use subjunctive to "kill" the acting part of a verb whenever we need it to shift (desfasar) a fact -the background/foreground approach you mentioned, Graham-
Yo he leído todos estos documentos intelectuales sobre subjuntivo (eg: la no realización, declaración etc.) y hasta la fecha tus comentarios ha quedado lo más lucido. Debo de felicitarte por tu explicación en inglés , la cual es evidente tu lengua segunda, y un sujeto muy complejo.
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Old 3rd January 2009, 01:32 PM   #74
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Yo he leído todos estos documentos intelectuales sobre subjuntivo (eg: la no realización, declaración etc.) y hasta la fecha tus comentarios ha quedado lo más lucido. Debo de felicitarte por tu explicación en inglés , la cual es evidente tu lengua segunda, y un sujeto muy complejo.
Thank you very much! You're very kind (and generous too, as I'd say that I'm not good in English but English is good with me, as it hasn't shoved me out yet)

I like to say that we can't explain subjunctive easily and you can't understand it easily because we all are too much of an adult. Then we tend to over-intellectualize this subject and provide long lists of cases with trigging phrases ("a lo mejor" is followed by indicative; "quizá/s" is followed by subjunctive regarding future events, etc.). Well, I don't like this approach very much, but anyway I understand why all students feel the need of going into the subjunctive tangle-swamp provided with some sort of grammatical cutlass.

What I expected was someone's remark about a sentence I set aside on purpose in my first post in this thread:

a) "Me gustaría acostarme cuando se pone el sol"

vs.

b) "Me gustaría acostarme cuando se ponga el sol"

For me, and I'm sure for most native speakers too, both are quite different. It is as if a) included "todos los días" and b) included "esta noche". I have no consistent hypothesis behind this case -but I haven't give it a thought yet-. I think b) is still some kind of reverse or reciprocal command, besides of being something "I'd like", while a) is a repeated action or a use, so we don't need to point out the fact -the sunset- that triggers -"commands"- our behaviour, no matter it still is something "I'd like", but I'm not sure at all -about the theory, the use is clear-.

I'm only sure that when a student has a doubt about Spanish subjunctive should check out his or her vocabulary, as many misunderstandings come from supposing some meaning. An instance of it:

"Suponer que + indicative" because we accept the supposition as real for a short while:

"Supongamos que tenemos que reunirnos a tomar una decisión"

but someone says:

"Esa decisión supone que gastemos un millón en esto"

What happened? Here "suponer" means "implicar, traer consecuencias"

Even the first example, with "suponer" meaning "pensar, creer, considerar verdadero o posible" accepts -or requires- subjunctive with very unlikely things, or contrary-to-the-fact, or multiple "suposiciones"

"Supongamos que fueras mujer" (to a man, just to avoid any hint of whatever)
"Supongamos que fueras la persona más rica del mundo"
"Supongamos que fueras muy rico o que fueras muy pobre"

on the contrary

"Supongamos que eres tan fuerte como Conan" (to a kid, to flatter him)
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Old 3rd January 2009, 04:11 PM   #75
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and provide long lists of cases with trigging phrases
The necessity of triggering frases is more to do with attaining a level of fluidity in speech. With less than half a second to sacar las palabras correctas, there isn't sufficient time to consider the conclusions of cervantes 'la de realización' or of Jose 'la de declaración' both claiming 'only one rule' required. Two learned resources, with a single rule, yet differing from each other, just adds to the confusion.
As soon as you say "me apostaré cuando " then subjunctive must follow no matter what the context is, hypothetical, non-existent, even- will definitely happen without any doubt. For a non native these triggers are vital unless the intention is to use text conversation only.

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Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
To native spanish there is a difference.

a) "Me gustaría acostarme cuando se pone el sol"
vs.
b) "Me gustaría acostarme cuando se ponga el sol"
In English too, there is a difference , in a) 'whenever' could be used.
In speech there would be a difference in the tone of the speaker.
With a) yes it is habitual, However b) begs the question " so why can't you acostarte cuando se ponga el sol". I think this applies to both spanish and english.

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should check out his or her vocabulary, as many misunderstandings come from supposing some meaning
Yes , I totally agree, which is why I am not going to comment too much on 'Suponer' because the dictionaries and diccionarios english/spanish español/inglés always give creer as a synonym of Suppose or Suponer. This has never been my understanding. Furthermore 'The Oxford dictionary of English" - and only English- gives... ' hypothetical assumption ' ...which has always been my assumption too. In which case an english native might tend to use the subjunctive.
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"Supongamos que eres tan fuerte como Conan"
Maybe there is an english influence here or , like I have often seen, the speaker not wanting to convey an absolute truth.
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Old 3rd January 2009, 04:39 PM   #76
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This type of context involves 'commentary matrix clauses', in which you are commenting on some fact in the subordinate clause. In this case it comes back to the question of presupposed information. It is assumed that you already know the fact that "has ganado". My intention is therefore to inform you (i.e. provide new information) of my feeling about that fact and not to inform you (i.e. 'declare') of the fact itself (i.e. the old information).

If you said to someone "I'm glad you won" when they didn't already know they had won, the statement would be quite surprising. From what I've read, a play is possible where the rule that you don't declare the object of a comment is broken in order to simultaneously inform the listener of your comment and of the fact being commented upon: me alegro de que has ganado - would imply that I already knew that you didn't know that you had won.

I agree that this context doesn't quite seem to fit in with the idea of what is included in your perception of reality. However, as far as I know, 'declaración' is about the intent of the speaker to inform the listener about the state of affairs as perceived by the speaker.
Thanks for the further explanation Graham However, I have a further question (sorry to bang on about this ,but I just want to get it clear in my mind)......

If I were to say to someone " me molesta que mi hermana se haya comido los churros" then that information would be known to them (presupposed) and what I am actually doing is informing(declaring) how I perceive myself to be feeling about the fact of her having eaten them ,and not actually declare the fact that she ate them. If I wanted to declare the fact (inform the other person) that she had eaten them and that is why I am annoyed (because it wasn't presupposed) , then I would say something like " me molesta porque mi hermana se ha comido todos los churros"???

Or to put it another way ... could I say to someone who has no previous knowledge of my sister eating the churros " me molesta que mi hermana se haya comido los churros"??

Does the information have to be presupposed in order to use the subjunctive after expressing an emotion/s ???

Last edited by delgado; 3rd January 2009 at 08:41 PM. Reason: made the same mistake three times in the same post :s
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Old 3rd January 2009, 07:14 PM   #77
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The necessity of triggering frases is more to do with attaining a level of fluidity in speech...
Those triggers are like these small wheels.

I suppose those wheels are common culture, and the same way we set them in an increasingly upper graduation as our kids grow and mature to the point of getting rid of them when the kid is stable on the bike (when they're about 4 to 9 years old, depending on the kid and depending on the mother hen), well, I suppose a student must get rid of these triggering structures in the right time.

My observation is that many students develop communicational skills, but they develop a subjunctive sense -the same sense any native speaker has- in a tragically slow fashion. It is comforting to have a prompt third wheel when you lose the vertical, but one has to risk falls and scratches if one likes to really enjoy the ride.
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Maybe there is an english influence here or , like I have often seen, the speaker not wanting to convey an absolute truth.
That sentence declares the kid being alike Conan for a moment in order to reinforce his self esteem. There's no English there. In fact, you have to say the sentence that way to a 4 years old kid, otherwise he may think you are diminishing him by asserting he is not like Conan, or worse, he's the opposite of Conan. A kid must arrive the age -about 55 to 64 months- when they stop telling innocent lies ("I saw in the street a mister who is tall as three daddys and hit his head with a balcony"), the same age they finally understand that adults, especially their parents or parental figures, can't read their mind. When a kid is sure about a certain privacy of the activities inside his or her mind, they plenty accept and use some features of subjunctive that they know but have a blurry meaning to them.

3 years old:

Adult- "Supongamos que eres tan fuerte como Conan"
Kid- "Soy Conan ¡Grrr!! (showing muscles)

A- "Supongamos que fueras tan fuerte como Conan"
K- "Conan es grande, yo soy chiquito."

5 years old:

A- "Supongamos que fueras tan fuerte como Conan"
K- "¡Aah! Quieres decir que suponemos que YO sea tan fuerte como Conan ¡Aaaahhh!" [YO (soy el que) sea...]

Explaining and learning Spanish subjunctive can make anybody lightheaded. I'm sorry if my explanations should cause that effect. I just want to provide different points of view to the subject.

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...

If I were to say to someone " me molesto que mi hermana se haya comido los churros" ...
May I ask; are you saying "molestó" (third person, past simple) or "molesto" (first person, present simple)?
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Old 3rd January 2009, 08:38 PM   #78
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May I ask; are you saying "molestó" (third person, past simple) or "molesto" (first person, present simple)?
Ahh yes sorry ,I typed an "o" instead of an "a" ,I was asking about the verb in the present simple . (I will edit the previous post now)

"Me molesta que mi hermana se haya comido los churros"

By the way ,welcome to the forum and thanks for the very interesting/informative posts!!

Last edited by delgado; 3rd January 2009 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 3rd January 2009, 10:57 PM   #79
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"Me molesta que mi hermana se haya comido los churros"
Yes, you are right, you may declare an unknown fact using subjunctive provided there's another fact to declare using indicative and the fact in subjunctive is a "thing"

A- Me molesta que mi hermana se haya comido todos los churros
B- ¿Se los comió todos?
A- ¡Sí!
B- ¡Qué egoísta!

Usually, when someone uses indicative to declare a previous fact is because some fail in the speech, known as "anacoluto" -sort of a grammar inconsistency as a consequence of a speaker who change his mind or speech structure in the middle of a sentence-:

"Estoy preocupado de que [oh! he doesn't know]... quizás ... viene más gente y faltará comida"

When one analyzes this sentence according to grammar rules, triggers, and all, chances are that one shout "Shorten an ease my pain, shoot me!".

The fact is that the speaker wanted to say "Estoy preocupado de que falte comida" but realizes that the other person doesn't know the reason of the shortage (we think more people is coming), then the speaker tear down all the grammar and start to patch the sentence.

But sometimes we like to declare loudly a thing and then use indicative:

"Me parece una tontería que justo eligió este momento para hacer eso"

The speaker "should" have said "eligiera", but he remarks the fact so you can understand that the fact is manure just because the speaker is deeply affected by the fact. This is not a new grammar, but the old one, because you need to know first that the speaker should've said "eligiera" to detect his or her deeply concern because "eligió" replaced it.

Surely, there's more about this.

Just a short comment about facts being a "thing" (I like this way to say it). The mechanism of shifting (desfase) I mentioned is often used to refer to actions as if they were things. For instance:

"Me gustaría que vinieras" = "Me gustaría la realización de tu venida en el futuro"

The italic part is an arbitrary and pretty unnatural description of the action, but it suffices to illustrate that the action is a "thing" as there are no verbs, but at most verboids. Subject + action in subjunctive, all introduced by "que" are pretty efective to this. I like this example because it shows that we use subjunctive to say "I like (the sort of things I like)" and not because some personal, emotional machinery is involved. Looked through this crystal, "me gustaría que vinieras" and "buscamos gente que pinte con acuarela" are alike.

"Necesitamos que nos ayudes" = "Necesitamos tu ayuda -para nosotros-"

"Quiero llegar temprano"
"Quiero que llegues temprano" = "Quiero tu llegada temprana"

Last edited by aleCcowaN; 4th January 2009 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Shakespeare se revuelve en su tumba cuando yo escribo en inglés
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Old 4th January 2009, 02:12 PM   #80
tad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gastephen View Post
If you said to someone "I'm glad you won" when they didn't already know they had won, the statement would be quite surprising. From what I've read, a play is possible where the rule that you don't declare the object of a comment is broken in order to simultaneously inform the listener of your comment and of the fact being commented upon: me alegro de que has ganado - would imply that I already knew that you didn't know that you had won.
A rather convoluted example. There is a 100m race resulting in a virtual dead-heat that needs to be decided on photo evidence. You are the photo judge and decide the winner who you then approach (he has no idea who has won).
For some reason rather than informing him that he has won, you want to inform him how happy you are that he has won.
You say 'Estoy contento que has ganado'
unfortunately he doesn't understand you because he is Russian -but would that be a situation where you could use the indicative in the subordinate clause?

I have to say this thread is starting to hurt my brain.
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