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Old April 19, 2011, 01:53 PM
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aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Originally Posted by vallero View Post
1) In my example of adverbial subjunctives I think that I realize my mistake. “Cuando vaya a la Argentina estoy feliz” implies a habitual action because of my inclusion of ‘estoy feliz’. I thought that simply using an adverbial conjunction of time (cuando) I was implying an anticipated action. If my example had of been for instance: Cuando vayas a la Argentina me compras un regalo, that would be the correct application of the subjunctive because it this case the sentences expresses only a future anticipated event. Am I correct?
Cuando voy a la Argentina estoy feliz. (habitual action)
Cuando vaya a la Argentina .... (action in the future, no matter probable, sure but not scheduled yet, or a scheduled one )

about the last one ---> many student want to find in this example some kind of uncertainty and one of its possible implications contains some degree of uncertainty, so they have the theory "confirmed" ---> the fact is that "cuando vaya" is just an adverb and it works this way

  • cuando fui ---> adverb ---> past simple because it is done, it is pretty exact, and it is part of the historical reality now.
  • cuando fuera --->adverb ---> speculation or future event at some point of the past ---> it hasn't happened yet so it was just possible -subjunctive regarding likelihood- or it finally didn't happen -subjunctive pointing to no-action-
  • cuando vaya ---> adverb ---> a future event now, likely or extremely likely, but there's no certainty for the future -in linguistic terms-. The future is simply not part of the real present in any other way that as a likelihood. Laws of physics, human regulations and any kind of instructions use present or future indicative if there is no option, in the same fashion as habitual actions -in some way, associated with laws by their systematicity-
First one have in "cuando iba" its counterparts using indicative to express habitual action in the past. "Cuando voy" tells habitual action in every time -sort of "the past actions will be done again in the future"-

Originally Posted by vallero View Post
2) One of your counter-parts I find confusing. “Busco un coche que tiene un motor grande” I would have thought because you are looking for an unspecified vehicle, which may or may not exist, then the subjunctive should be used. Busco el coche que tiene un motor grande would use the indicative because “el” indicates that the car exists, so is a part of the speakers perceived reality. Where am I going wrong with this example?
You are right and yet a bit mistaken. The use of indicative tell us we are talking of a specific vehicle. The use of subjunctive tell us that the subordinated clause is an adjective, so no specific vehicle is named but anyone which meets the adjective description. Native speakers never rely on the definite or indefinite article to tell us nor confirm us such important information. Telling "busco el coche que tiene un motor grande" suggest that I'd immediately spot it if it's on plain sight, and "busco un coche que tiene un motor grande" suggests that I know such car exist but I can't tell the size of the motor by it's external aspect. The definite/indefinite article tells how clear is the image of the noun in our mind but it doesn't make our knowledge about its existence or not. So "el auto" is so clear that it couldn't be other that some specific one, so it must be indicative. Teachers and students take advantage of these extremes to start learning subjunctive. The moral here is that the subjunctive trick bag should be evolving constantly until it becomes a cerebrum as native as it can.

I have to confess that it is my own clumsiness with all these language affairs the motive that led me to analyze so deeply how grammar works and what's in our minds. I think in Spanish grammar even when I sort of think in English. I must confess that when I say "I hope this helps" my Spanish brains tell I'm saying it helps positively and I'm just adding "I hope" to embellish it with a token of politeness. That's pretty awkward because I do know it means "Espero que les sirva" and that "espero" is hearty felt; but my Spanish brains insist in telling me that "it helps" is indeed happening and it is a certain fact. Maybe this confession about clumsiness on my part will help others to understand how important is to train -not only teach- ourselves in an alien grammar by paying attention to which part of the brains do the job and how many tenths of a second each process takes -a good indicator of a process being highly intellectual or just grammatical-.

I am only sure that if I had been a native English speaker I would never have been able to learn Spanish (and I'd probably hate it )
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