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Why subjunctive here?

 

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  #1  
Old April 10, 2012, 06:32 PM
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Why subjunctive here?

Would someone kindly explain to me why the writer chose subjunctive at the end of this paragraph (where I underlined)?

Thanks in advance.


"'Esta elección probablemente tendrá el contraste más grande que hemos visto desde la elección entre Johnson-Goldwater, quizá incluso desde antes', dijo Obama durante un acto de recaudación de fondos en Florida, y justo antes de que se definiera su adversario en la elección general."

And would you translate it as, "...and just before his general election opponent was made definite."?
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  #2  
Old April 10, 2012, 08:28 PM
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Subjunctive always follows 'antes de que'.
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Old April 10, 2012, 08:30 PM
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A simple answer to this is that antes de que always takes the subjunctive. It's a solid rule in Spanish grammar

If you think about it, it's logical that antes de que takes the subjunctive, because outcome can never be certain.
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Old April 11, 2012, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poli View Post
If you think about it, it's logical that antes de que takes the subjunctive, because outcome can never be certain.
You might think that is logical, but I don't think it is logical for statements in the past where there is no causal relationship.

A: She put her coat on before it started to rain.
B: She put her coat on before she caught a cold.

In A, there is no causal relationship, but there is in B. If I'm not mistaken, Spanish would use a subjunctive in both A and B, but I don't think this is logical in A. As a comparison, I think I'm right in saying that at least Latin, Greek and German would use a subjunctive in B, but not A.
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Old April 11, 2012, 10:11 AM
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That's a good observation. One of the things I like about Spanish is that it seems logical compared to English, but as you point out, it isn't always
logical.
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Old April 11, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
You might think that is logical, but I don't think it is logical for statements in the past where there is no causal relationship.

A: She put her coat on before it started to rain.
B: She put her coat on before she caught a cold.

In A, there is no causal relationship, but there is in B. If I'm not mistaken, Spanish would use a subjunctive in both A and B, but I don't think this is logical in A. As a comparison, I think I'm right in saying that at least Latin, Greek and German would use a subjunctive in B, but not A.
This is intriguing. I haven't studied any languages other than English and Spanish for long enough to learn the appropriate ways to say these two sentences.

I've always found the fact that "antes (de) que" always takes the subjunctive to be perfectly logical based on the argument that it makes no assertion whatsoever regarding either (a) the reality or lack of reality of the content of its dependent clause, or (b) the presence or lack of any causal relationship between the content of the main clause and the content of the dependent clause.

The fact that Spanish grammar does not allow one to explicity state the presence or absence of a causal relationship between the main clause and the dependent clause by means of the choice of verb mood, while Latin, Greek and German do, is certainly a very interesting comparison between these languages.
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Old April 11, 2012, 05:01 PM
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...dijo, justo antes de que se definiera su adversario...
...se definió, justo después de que Obama dijera/dijo...

antes de las 8
después de las 10

a thing

antes del amanecer
después de las campanadas

a thing

antes de que definiera
después de que comprara

a thing
conjunction that tell that you must parse the following part and how to do it

If you want to use as a temporal reference something stronger than "a thing", sort of "verbal thingamajig" constructed using subjunctive, well, you may use indicative to liven it up and say, for instance, that the latter could be the cause of first one:

"se definió justo después de que Obama dijo"

or that there's some sort of curious coincedence there:

"se definió justo después de que Obama dijo"

or there's some sort of irony:

"se definió justo después de que Obama dijo"

The indicative-subjunctive dipole is not strong enough to carry any of those unambiguously, but you automatically know that by using subjunctive the speaker only wanted to sort out related or unrelated events, using one as a reference for the other. With indicative, something stronger is suggested.

Is there some cases of "antes de " that the speakers would like to liven up using indicative? Well, sure they would, but both verbs collide while using pretérito indefinido because of, which one carries the perfective aspect?

"dijo justo antes de que se definió"

dijo or se definió? which one is happening and done within the scope of that phrase (not the reality described by that phrase, not within the possible chain of events)?

dijo keeps the perfective aspect and definir must take imperfect but, which one? Imperfect indicative ("dijo justo antes de que se definía") describes something without caring about its beginning and end. How can it be the temporal reference for another action with precise timing?

It must be imperfect subjunctive as -like every subjunctive- it takes the action out of the scope of "actioning" and present it as something different, a temporal reference in this case.

About Latin, it's Greek to me, and regarding to German, as I barely remember from my 6 years of it in School -failing miserably to learn it-, it combines features of conditional and subjunctive together, so it becomes much more prone to deal with hypothetical and causal issues -as I think to remember-.

Finally, Spanish is very logical until you try to apply to it an alien logic, then it looks Martian
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Old April 11, 2012, 10:37 PM
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Thank you. I used to know that, but forgot.
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Old April 12, 2012, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
Finally, Spanish is very logical until you try to apply to it an alien logic, then it looks Martian
I agree. The problem is that every language I have studied has it's own logic, with the exception of Welsh, which defies description. The alleged logic doesn't really help you much, because it is different for each language.

Spanish has a relatively simple logic compared to, say, Ancient Greek, which has an optative mood as well as subjunctive, three voices, not two, two entirely different ways of conjugating verbs, and about 14 different noun declensions. It also has imperatives in three different tenses. And it's all quite logical.
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