Ask a Question

(Create a thread)
Go Back   Spanish language learning forums > Spanish & English Languages > Grammar


El subjuntivo - ya conocida

 

This is the place for questions about conjugations, verb tenses, adverbs, adjectives, word order, syntax and other grammar questions for English or Spanish.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old April 17, 2011, 09:40 AM
vallero vallero is offline
Opal
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: canada
Posts: 5
Native Language: english
vallero is on a distinguished road
El subjuntivo - ya conocida

I have been attempting to learn the subjunctive tense. I understand the use of the subjunctive in subordinate clauses with 'wierdo' verbs, as well as adjective and adverbial clauses. I was feeling good about my progress until I read "Hacia una única explicación del subjuntivo aplicado a la adquisición de E/LE by Lidia Lozano. One of the conditions she lists as requirement to use the subjunctive is for: “información no nueva, ya conocida”
Here is an example from the text of the document with reasoning:
Lo bueno es que no tenemos que estudiar en verano.
Lo bueno es que no tengamos que estudiar en verano
Lo bueno es no tener que estudiar en verano.
Estructura: LO + ADJETIVO + ES + QUE + INDICATIVO
Contenido: INFORMACIÓN NUEVA
Estructura: LO + ADJETIVO + ES + QUE + SUBJUNTIVO
Contenido: INFORMACIÓN YA CONOCIDA
USO. Mediante el infinitivo no se especifica quién es el sujeto, y se presenta como una verdad o idea general aplicable a todas las personas.

This seems to me to be contrary to the basic function of the subjective. In the statement with ‘tengamos’ there is no doubt, anticipation or emotion so I am confused as to why the subjunctive is required. Thanks for any advice

Last edited by Rusty; April 17, 2011 at 02:15 PM. Reason: removed link
Reply With Quote
   
Get rid of these ads by registering for a free Tomísimo account.
  #2  
Old April 17, 2011, 12:53 PM
aleCcowaN's Avatar
aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
Diamond
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Posts: 3,092
Native Language: Castellano
aleCcowaN is on a distinguished road
Lozano's is an excellent paper. Take into account it is not intended to upper-intermediate students or advanced students. In my opinion that paper is great for educated native speakers and for non-native highly skilled Spanish teachers, but everyone can get something from it, at least, a deep reflexion about what has been learned so far.

As a native speaker, I always find very strange those assertions about subjunctive being related with "doubt, anticipation or emotion" or the like. Sometimes I found that even disturbing.

You said "This seems to me to be contrary to the basic function of the subjective."(I suppose you mean "subjunctive") so you might need to review your idea about Spanish subjunctive.

The example you quoted is very important as it is one of not many cases without a default case. I mean, some cases are very strong:

No creo que venga (subjunctive by default as it speaks of the absence of a specific notion -él viene- within the mind of the speaker)
No creo que viene (a very very infrequent case used solely to deny something that has been stated as true within the group of reference: "everybody is saying 'he comes! he comes!' but I won't bite that bait" )

Quizás venga (subjunctive by default as 'el viene' is just one of many options, not an option we focus on)
Quizás viene (indicative 'liven it up' and now it becomes something more indicating that outcome as having more relevance that other outcomes, for instance -but not restricted to-, because the action is more likely than other actions)

Busco una persona que hable español (subjunctive -not so much by default- because "que hable español" is just an adjective. I'm not looking for some specific person but someone who fits that description)
Busco una persona que habla español (indicative 'liven it up' pointing to some specific person even in the case I don't know who that person is and I am just taking as true that a real person fitting that description really exists)

and then we reach the example taken from Lozano

Lo bueno es que no tenemos que estudiar en verano (the "thing" -no tenemos que estudiar en verano- is presented as a lively action, so it equals to "No tenemos que estudiar en verano y eso es bueno", that is, a declaration that introduces new information or reminds or insists on it)

Lo bueno es que no tengamos que estudiar en verano (the "thing" -no tenemos que estudiar en verano- is presented as a suffocated action, so the comment is aim to present an opinion about the "thing". When you talk to somebody is not logical to say "I like xtrmksts!" because the person who hears it would be unable to represent your likings if he or she can't make a conceptual image of a "xtrmksts", so "xtrmksts" is supposed a shared concept. Well, subjunctive has completely "thingified" the action as it is a shared notion. As a final check, you can't present new information with subjunctive "No tengamos que estudiar en verano y eso es bueno", "Que no tengamos que estudiar en verano y eso es bueno", "Que no tengamos que estudiar en verano es bueno" -"Lo bueno es que no tengamos que estudiar en verano" but more difficult to parse)

Lo bueno es no tener que estudiar en verano (there's no mood here -and there's no "que" as "no tener que estudiar en verano" is a thing by definition. As it has no subject, it's a general idea or prescription).

Well, I hope this helps. You're welcome to ask in this site every question you have in this and other subjects. Don't be afraid of making your own sentences and ask about them.
__________________
[gone]
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old April 18, 2011, 05:31 AM
vallero vallero is offline
Opal
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: canada
Posts: 5
Native Language: english
vallero is on a distinguished road
Thank you aleCcowaN for your explanation

Your response to my question was very informative. Although I am a new member to this forum (I joined yesteday and this is my first post) I think that your insights to the mysteries of the subjunctive would be helpful to many people reading these posts because I don’t think I am the only one with confusion about the subjunctive tense.

For example, I was surprised that you may find it disturbing when someone refers to a subjunctive tense as one expressing doubt or unreality.

Obviously I have been on the wrong track trying to understand the use of the subjunctive because that has been my objective when composing sentences.

I live in small Canadian town, so my only significant learning materials for the Spanish language are books and the internet, and the occasional trip to a Spanish school in Mexico. A consistent theme from all of my learning sources has been either the uncertainty of the outcome of an action when the subjunctive is used, or an emotional response to the idea presented in the phrase.

For example this is from ‘Webster’s New World Spanish Grammar’

The subjunctive, which is used far more frequently in Spanish than in English, is a mood that expresses unreal, hypothetical, theoretical, imaginary, uncorroborated, or unconfirmed conditions or situations that result from doubts, emotions, wishes, wants, needs, desires, feelings, speculations, and suppositions.

That made perfect sense to me. Subordinate clauses with a different subject and preceded by a “weirdo” verb are subjunctive.” Deseo que llegues temprano esta noche.” (the outcome is unknown and therefore in doubt) The adjective clauses follow the same premise, “Busco para un coche que tenga un motor grande”. (its existence is unknown) or adverbial clauses such as “Cuando vaya a Argentina estoy feliz” (whenever I go is also vague and therefore possibly unreal)

So in response to your clarification of “Lo bueno es que no tengamos que estudiar en verano” If the person is offering his opinion about the subject and therefore uses the subjunctive tense isn’t that in line with the definition of the subjunctive as presented by Websters, because being the opinion of a person it opens up the possibility of speculation and personal feelings so may not represent reality.

Thanks again for your help
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old April 18, 2011, 09:46 AM
aleCcowaN's Avatar
aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
Diamond
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Posts: 3,092
Native Language: Castellano
aleCcowaN is on a distinguished road
You're welcome!

You'll surely find these forums very useful no matter the method you use to learn.

I think the "emotions et al" theory seems to work because they teach in Spanish 102 or 201 how to express what you feel in Spanish. In a nutshell, every attribution to subjunctive comes from a specific step in acquiring Spanish as L2 (language 2), being it that you need to express your feelings, needs, doubts and how likely can things be. Give me the lists of subjects you need to be proficient about in order to communicate and I'll give you back the list of "what is subjunctive" according to that list.

I wonder, where's the emotion and where is not in:

¡Creo que me ama!

and

¡No creo que me ame!
¡Creo que no me ama!

I always repeat that English has a simple grammar, word order is important to comprehension, and it is heavily dependent on semantics, and Spanish has a complicated grammar and is less dependent on semantics and word order. In both of them and every other language grammar is parsed.

Compare

I expect he is coming soon.

and

Espero que llegue pronto

In English both indicatives are the hint that English considers indicative to cover a wider range of connexions with reality. So word order and semantics relay and as you can expect someone coming but you cannot come someone expecting -or maybe you can, but not with any related meaning- the final meaning is clear. In Spanish indicative represents an action and not the idea of an action, so I expect (action) he is coming soon (thing). Subjunctive takes care of setting that an action is not happening but just the idea of it to happen [and that's a core idea in Lozano's]. The omnipresent "que" with a meaning between "and" and "(nothing)" takes care of telling the brains how to parse the sentence and then get the meaning. In Spanish "Llego que esperes pronto" has no meaning either, but Spanish speakers don't rely on comparing "llego que esperas pronto" and "espero que llegas pronto" to set the meaning. We can say "que llegues, espero pronto" and still get an univocal meaning, because we don't rely exclusively in word order and semantics as "que llegues" continues to be a thing that stands alone.

This takes us to your examples:

Deseo que llegues temprano esta noche (noun)
Busco un coche que tenga un motor grande (adjective)
Venderé ese coche cuando vaya a la Argentina (adverb)

and some counterparts:

Veo que llegas temprano esta noche (noun)
Busco un choche que tiene un motor grande (adjective)
Me sentía feliz cuando fui a la Argentina (adverb)

where the mistaken one ("Cuando vaya a Argentina estoy feliz") -don't worry at all- teach us that natives and foreigners have mistakes, but very different ones, which should teach us something.

My conclusion is that behind the "emotions ....." theory hides a cerebrum that still thinks in English and doesn't welcome thinking in Spanish. I'm not saying it shouldn't be that way in a lot of stages of learning L2, but I'm sure subjunctive isn't that.
__________________
[gone]
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old April 18, 2011, 01:44 PM
Cloudgazer's Avatar
Cloudgazer Cloudgazer is offline
Emerald
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 539
Native Language: American English
Cloudgazer is on a distinguished road
Para mí, este hilo es bastante excepcional.

Alec, para esos anglohablantes que están aprendiendo español, nos has traído información extremadamente inapreciable acerca del subjuntivo (entre otras cosas). Mil y una gracias por ella. No quiero avergonzarte, ni sonar adulador, pero creo que mi primera aseveración es acertada. De acuerdo completamente con Vallero de que lo que has compartido es muy informativo y útil.

¿Podríamos resumir lo que has dicho sobre el núcleo del subjuntivo, por favor?

¿Dirías que, para ti, el sentido principal que el subjuntivo lleva es lo de hacer su parte del contexto virtual?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old April 18, 2011, 03:58 PM
aleCcowaN's Avatar
aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
Diamond
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Posts: 3,092
Native Language: Castellano
aleCcowaN is on a distinguished road
¡Gracias por tus amables conceptos! Como diría un andaluz:¡Qué me pongo coloráo!

I should say subjunctive is a beast that can't be easily tamed and that will never answer to any name you use to call it.

It think that the best synthesis of it is done in Lozano's paper (it's a legitimate link by the way): in my words "subjunctive is associated with no-action"

A way to understand Spanish subjunctive -and why it is useful, why it was kept in the language- is following the story of our own learning as native speakers: the more earlier we learn a feature, the more brainwired that feature is, so the more strange sounds a mistaken use.

1st stage : 1-2.5 years old ---> subjunctive means "don't do it"

¡Ven! ¡No vengas! ¡Come eso! ¡No comas eso!

so an asymmetrical use is brainwired together with the notion of "it" -3 each 4 natives don't have a clue about the concept "subjunctive"- I was saying, together with the notion of "it" being related to no-action.

but: ¡Ven! ¡Ven aquí! ¡Te digo que vengas! ¡Que vengas te he dicho! ¡Que vengas de una buena vez! (someone could imagine that daycare is like Auschwitz!). So sometimes it do imply actions, but with a "que" and sometimes together with another verb -this is to be read with a "dah! dah!" accent, as we are 2 years old-

2nd stage : 2.5 to 5 years old ---> subjunctive means "not doing"

¡Quiero una muñeca que tenga ojos azules!
¡No te vayas! ¡Quiero que te quedes! ¡Quédate! ... ¡Qué te quedes! ¡Qué te quedes! (mimicking "¡Qué se quede!", a group calling)

As we don't know many nouns and adjectives, we use it a lot

-¿De qué color es el auto del tío Sergio?
- Bordó
- ¡Quiero una playera bordó!

or simply

-¿Cómo quieres tu playera?
- Que tenga el color del auto del tío Sergio.

Don't forget also

¡Quiero una muñeca grande que no tenga ojos azules!

as these expressions are symmetrical (que tenga / que no tenga)

3rd stage: 5 to 8 years old ---> subjunctive means "it doesn't exist" (in some frame)

The basical "Creo que lo tiene papá/Creo que papá no lo tiene" at some point gives way to instances of "No creo que papá lo tenga". This starts at an age the kids begin to lie a lot as a seek for self-assurance: the adults can anticipate things but they can't read the kids minds (can they? just in case I tell a lie to probe it). So the kids are achieving the notion that their minds are their own individual realms and they engage in dialogues like this

A - ¿Dónde están las llaves?
B - Creo que las tiene papá.
Kid - No creo que las tenga papá [The content of my mind is not a clone of your mind's]

By the way: Creo que las tiene / No creo que las tenga (asymmetrical use again)

So, by an age of 6,7 or 8 we have all the basic elements brainwired and we can start to mix them in different recipes -at an unconscious level-. Uses about likelihood come about an age of 8-11. The most complicated uses come about an age of 12-18 so nothing is much brainwired and mistakes don't sound so badly.

I hope this helps. If I could make it much easier, I would be a millionaire.
__________________
[gone]
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old April 19, 2011, 05:59 AM
vallero vallero is offline
Opal
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: canada
Posts: 5
Native Language: english
vallero is on a distinguished road
Hola aleCcowanN

Thank you very much for your summary of the subjunctive. I found it to be very interesting reading because for me it introduced a different approach to learning Spanish. Your more philosophical analysis of the subjunctive is very different than the methods presented in Spanish learning texts for English speakers. I think because the Spanish grammar structure, verb conjugations etc. are such new concepts for English speakers the authors tend to take a more analytical route to teach the language. They take the intimate knowledge of Spanish, like as person such as yourself has, and breaks it into rules and flow sheets. I suppose that explains my current obsession with the rigid rules for the subjunctive that I have been adhering to, for example the subjunctive noun formula S1V1 + QUE + S2V2 with ‘weirdo’ verbs.

At my present proficiency level I don’t think that I can use any method other than the rules and guide-lines presented in my text books to improve my skills. With experience comes success, so eventually I may aquire a more intuitive understanding of Spanish, but that is many hours of homework in the future. However your suggestions and information has been inspiring for me and sets new goals for my studies.

One last thing. In your post #4 I have two questions.

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?

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?

Once again aleCcowanN thank you very much for your help over the past few days, you have been very helpful.

I have only been a member for few days but already I know that this forum is awesome.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old April 19, 2011, 06:36 AM
wrholt's Avatar
wrholt wrholt is offline
Sapphire
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 1,323
Native Language: US English
wrholt is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by vallero View Post
Hola aleCcowanN
...
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?
...
Busco el coche que tiene un motor grande = I'm looking for the car that has a large motor (we've already talked about the car, and we both know that the car exists: the car is shared/old informaiton)

Busco un coche que tiene un motor grande = I'm looking for a car that has a large motor (We haven't talked about the car before, but I know that the car exists: the car is new information)

Busco un coche que tenga un motor grande = I'm looking for a car that has a large motor = (I don't know whether such a car exists or not)
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old April 19, 2011, 11:46 AM
Cloudgazer's Avatar
Cloudgazer Cloudgazer is offline
Emerald
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 539
Native Language: American English
Cloudgazer is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
I hope this helps.
Sí que me ayuda. Es muy informativo y interesante.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
If I could make it much easier, I would be a millionaire.
Ojalá que fueras millonario...
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old April 19, 2011, 01:53 PM
aleCcowaN's Avatar
aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
Diamond
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Posts: 3,092
Native Language: Castellano
aleCcowaN is on a distinguished road
Quote:
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"-

Quote:
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 )
__________________
[gone]
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmark this thread at:

Tags
indicative, subjunctive, subjuntivo

 

Link to this thread
URL: 
HTML Link: 
BB Code: 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Site Rules

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Subjuntivo raji Grammar 3 April 28, 2010 12:22 AM
El modo subjuntivo ChicadeJeep Practice & Homework 36 January 16, 2010 09:27 PM
Quizás y si + subjuntivo EmpanadaRica Grammar 32 August 13, 2009 02:05 AM
Si / cuando y el subjuntivo bobjenkins Grammar 8 July 21, 2009 10:16 PM
el subjuntivo gramatica Grammar 4 July 27, 2007 11:15 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:03 PM.

Forum powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

X