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Commands given in past tense

 

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  #1  
Old September 22, 2009, 08:12 AM
rkeyster rkeyster is offline
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Commands given in past tense

Hi again,

I was reading a newspaper article about a two creepy guys attempting to lure little kids into their van. I came across the following sentence:

Le dijo a la menor que subiera.

(The article is describing how this guy told the little girl to get in their van).

My question is, why is that particular tense (I don't even know what it's called) used for "subir"? Is that the tense one uses when describing commands that were given in the past?

If I am not making sense, I apologize; I'll be happy to explain more if necessary!
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  #2  
Old September 22, 2009, 08:49 AM
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it's not an imperitive. I don't think the imperative works in the past unless
it's done in quotes. Example: He told the girl "get in".
As for subiera: subiera is the past tense subjunctive and not a command.
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Old September 22, 2009, 10:06 AM
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The general structure here is decirle a alguien que + subjunctive. The obvious example is "Dile que venga", but as that also contains an imperative it may be too confusing. Or it may be enlightening, so I'll leave it in.

Si le dices que venga y no viene, ¿qué harás?
If you tell him/her/it to come and he/she/it doesn't come, what will you do?
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Old September 22, 2009, 10:14 AM
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As Poli said, it's the subjunctive.

Present: Le digo que suba.
Past: Le dije que subiera.
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Old September 23, 2009, 03:03 PM
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Just to clarify: if I wanted to say:

"I asked her to speak."

I would say:

"Le dije que hablara."

So in other words, when I am relating a command in the past tense ("I told/asked someone to do something," etc.) I use the past tense subjunctive?
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Old September 23, 2009, 03:53 PM
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Old September 23, 2009, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkeyster View Post
Just to clarify: if I wanted to say:

"I asked her to speak."

I would say:

"Le dije que hablara."

So in other words, when I am relating a command in the past tense ("I told/asked someone to do something," etc.) I use the past tense subjunctive?
Le dije que hablara = I told her that she spoke... (I guess)

I asked her to speak = Le pedí (a ella) hablar.
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Old September 23, 2009, 08:10 PM
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Perhaps this will help.

The subjunctive is a mood and, as such, doesn't have a tense.
There are several reasons to use the subjunctive mood - one of which is with a verb of volition. Your sentence is a good example of this, although you've used the word 'command' to describe 'volition'.
The command form, or the imperative, is different than the subjunctive (although it can look identical in some cases).

The verb ask, when it's used to get someone to do something, is a verb of volition. Its infinitive is pedir. Your sentence used decir (to tell/say).
The verb want is also a verb of volition.

The verb_of_volition+que+dependent_clause structure is used when the subject of the sentence changes. This structure isn't used a lot in English, but it must be used (and is VERY PREVALENT) in Spanish.

~~~
If the verb (that requires the subjunctive mood) in the main clause is in the present tense, future tense, present/future perfect tenses, or the imperative, WITH a dependent clause that happens at the same time or after the time established in the main clause, the PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE is used. (There used to be a future subjunctive, but it isn't used in modern speech.)

Quiero que me traigas un vaso de agua.
(I want that you bring me a glass of water.)
Colloquial English: I want you to bring me a glass of water.

If, on the other hand, the dependent clause happens at a time prior to the time established in the main clause, the PRESENT PERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE or the IMPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE is used.
(Note that the imperfect subjunctive has two forms!)

Es bueno que no hayas estado enfermo.
(It's good you haven't been sick.)

Es bueno que no estuvieras/estuvieses enfermo.
(It's good you weren't sick.)

~~~
If the verb (that requires the subjunctive mood) in the main clause is in either of the past tenses, either of the past perfect tenses, or if it's in the conditional or conditional perfect tenses, the verb in the dependent clause takes the IMPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE.

Quería que me trajeras/trajeses un vaso de agua.
(I wanted that you bring me a glass of water.)
Colloquial English: I wanted you to bring me a glass of water.

Me gustaría que primero me pidieras/pidieses permiso.
(I would like that first you ask me permission.)
Colloquial English: I would like it if you asked for my permission first.

~~~
There are a couple of exceptions to these rules, but I don't think you'll have any problem understanding them when you encounter them. So, don't worry about them right now.

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Old September 23, 2009, 08:21 PM
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Rusty,

After reading your help, and several times, which proves that I am a fool, I could not determine if "I told her that she spoke..." is correct in English or not.

Would you please say to this simpleton just a yes or no?


Last edited by chileno; September 23, 2009 at 08:23 PM. Reason: (after the third read, my left eye started to twitch...)
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Old September 23, 2009, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chileno View Post
Rusty,

After reading your help, and several times, which proves that I am a fool, I could not determine if "I told her that she spoke..." is correct in English or not.

Would you please say to this simpleton just a yes or no?

If you're using told as a verb of volition, the colloquial English sentence is:
I told her to speak slowly.
I asked her to speak slowly.

There is no difference between present or past tense.

If you use the subjunctive form in English (rare), the sentence would be:
I ask that she speak slowly.
I asked that she speak slowly.

There is still no difference between present or past tense.
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