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A couple questions about this passage.


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Old July 19, 2023, 10:59 PM
createdamadman createdamadman is offline
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A couple questions about this passage.

I have the passage below - with some extra context included - and am a bit confused about the bold parts.

First, for the phrase "reía las bromas", is it okay to simply say "reía" instead of "reía de" to mean "was laughing at"?

Second, I am confused both by the use of "permanecieran" and "diesen" here. I am bit-by-bit learning when the imperfect subjunctive should be used, but it really seems like in both of these instances the preterite should've been used, and I'm not sure why it wasn't.

"El juego de Pascal había causado furor entre un grupo de adinerados, que salían del almuerzo con las mejillas encendidas después de numerosos tragos de coñac y ginebra. Con el evidente estado de excitación, estos buenos hombres arrojaban los billetes sobre la caja que el muchacho había establecido como tapete y casi no echaban cuentas al resultado de los dados.

Pascal, haciendo un esfuerzo por controlar su emoción y tratando de disimular sus miradas lascivas al dinero apostado, reía las bromas de los señores y los manejaba de tal manera que conseguía que permanecieran largo rato e incluso le diesen propina al marcharse.

A los días se había extendido la noticia del emocionante juego del “siete” y multitud de hombres borrachos se agolpaban en torno a Pascal para, sin ellos saberlo, perder su dinero. Incluso el elegante señor con prominente barriga, que lo había denunciado el día de la fiesta, se encontraba allí igualmente emocionado y sin poder imaginarse quién era en realidad el simpático muchacho de los dados."
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Old July 19, 2023, 11:40 PM
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wrholt wrholt is offline
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This is an interesting passage, and I hope that AdA or another native speaker offers their opinion. However, I perceive the sentence in question as describing Pascal's behavior during the period of time that the group started playing Pascal's game (laughing at jokes and treating the players at that time) so that (i.e., in the future from the time he chose to laugh at jokes and treat the players a certain way) he would improve his chances of getting the group to stay (and play) for a long time and even give Pascal a tip on leaving.

The use of past subjunctive here signals that, from the perspective of the time that Pascal chose to behave in a certain way, getting the players to stay a long time and even give him a tip when leaving, was a hoped-for result, rather than a guaranteed result. Using the indicative would imply that the result was guaranteed, rather than hoped for.
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Old July 21, 2023, 12:16 AM
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AngelicaDeAlquezar AngelicaDeAlquezar is offline
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I agree with Wrholt.

The easiest thing first: "reírle los chistes / las bromas a alguien" means that you laugh at people's jokes, even if you don't find them funny. You do this to be kind or because you need to be found likeable for a reason. In this case, Pascal wants the drunk rich men to keep paying for his games. He succeeds, even getting extra tips.

- Para que no creyeran que era pedante, tenía que reírles todos los chistes.
I had to laugh at all their jokes so they wouldn't think I was being pedantic.
- La chica se veía forzada a reírle las bromas al patán de su novio para que no la insultara.
The girl was forced to laugh at the jokes told by the jerk who was her boyfriend, so he would not insult her.

As for the preterite subjunctive, it has two conjugations, with endings -(i)era / -(i)ese.
Permaneciera = permaneciese
Dieran = diesen
Both ways are used interchangeably and mean the same. Here, the author is using one for each verb to avoid repetition, which is one of the norms in Spanish for elegant writing.

And it's hard to explain, but the verbs that imply a sense of achieving a goal, like "lograr" or "conseguir", often need the next verb conjugated in subjunctive mood:

- Siempre logra que su padre le dé dinero.
He always succeeds at getting money from his father.
- ¿Conseguiste que te dieran un descuento?
Did you manage to get a discount (on the price)?
Ain't it wonderful to be alive when the Rock'n'Roll plays...

Last edited by AngelicaDeAlquezar; July 21, 2023 at 03:20 PM.
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