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Es posible que...pres or imp subjunctive/infinitive

 

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Old April 03, 2012, 04:17 PM
Sunflower Sunflower is offline
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Es posible que...pres or imp subjunctive/infinitive

If I want to say "it's possible that he was sleeping" to speculate on the past, which construction is correct?

Es posible que estaba durmiendo.
Era posible que estuviera durmiendo.
Es posible que estuviera durmiendo.


And now that I've written all that out, my guess is actually the first one because the second ones translates as it was possible for him to sleep and the last one is just wrong. Right? I think having "es posible" drilled into me as a subjunctive cue is throwing me off. But for the sake of not making stupid mistakes, I'll wait for you guys to respond.
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  #2  
Old April 03, 2012, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunflower View Post
If I want to say "it's possible that he was sleeping" to speculate on the past, which construction is correct?

Es posible que estaba durmiendo.
Era posible que estuviera durmiendo. Pero no se ajusta a la frase a traducir. Se está hablando en pasado sobre si pudiera estar dormido
Es posible que (él) estuviera durmiendo. En estos casos tiene que estar muy claro a quien se refiere la frase porque puede referirse al que habla o a la tercera persona.


And now that I've written all that out, my guess is actually the first one because the second ones translates as it was possible for him to sleep and the last one is just wrong. Right? I think having "es posible" drilled into me as a subjunctive cue is throwing me off. But for the sake of not making stupid mistakes, I'll wait for you guys to respond.
La segunda es correcta pero no era el objetivo de la traducción resulta muy compleja, un poco literaria describiendo una escena.
La tercera es correcta pero hay que aclarar la persona a la que se refiere el verbo.
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Old April 03, 2012, 09:20 PM
Sunflower Sunflower is offline
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Originally Posted by micho View Post
La segunda es correcta pero no era el objetivo de la traducción resulta muy compleja, un poco literaria describiendo una escena.
La tercera es correcta pero hay que aclarar la persona a la que se refiere el verbo.
¡Gracias!
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Old April 13, 2012, 06:07 PM
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I have gotten very mixed opionions from persons of different countries about whether the third construction is correct:
"Es posible que (él) estuviera durmiendo."

I believe some people in some countries use the imperfect subjunctive after present indicative (friends from Argentina have told me they do, but friends from Mexico and Dominican Republic have told me they don't (even though I heard one Dominican friend do it several times), and a friend from Panama said it is common but never sounds correct). However it is always correct to use present perfect subjunctive with present indicative, correct??
"Es posible que (él) haya estado durmiendo."

Lastimo que no fuera bastante comida.--->Lastimo que no haya sido bastante comida.
Estoy agradecido de que disfrutaran--> Estoy agradecido de que hayan disfrutado.

Any opinions from native speakers?

Last edited by rparmst; April 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM. Reason: Forgot a word
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Old April 13, 2012, 07:13 PM
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aleCcowaN aleCcowaN is offline
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"Es posible que estuviera durmiendo" and "es posible que haya estado durmiendo" doesn't convey the same information, including nuance. You just described people who is not aware of that and yet they have an opinion.

"No sé, es posible que estuviera durmiendo pero es más probable que haya estado despierto."

Try to swap both tenses and see what happens:

"No sé, es posible que haya estado durmiendo pero es más probable que estuviera despierto"

A keen native speaker can imagine completely different contexts for both phrases. For instance, the first sentence suggests all could happen in a certain point in the past. The second one suggests an ongoing process in the past. It has to do with imperfect and perfective aspects.

A piece of advice: don't ask native speakers about what is correct about subjunctive or why some case of subjunctive appears unless they have a)an education on that specific subject, or b)they have experience, like many in this and other language forums, in analysing their own language without falling in the catch of hidden imaginary contexts. And even with a) or b), take everything with a pinch of salt.
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Old April 14, 2012, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
You just described people who is not aware of that and yet they have an opinion..
Oooops, Alec
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Old April 14, 2012, 04:03 AM
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However it is always correct to use present perfect subjunctive with present indicative, correct??
I don't know the rules for subjuntive, but don't think that rule is OK.

Lamento que él haya tenido un accidente.
Creo que él ha tenido un accidente.
Creo que él haya tenido un accidente.
No creo que él haya tenido un accidente.
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Old April 14, 2012, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
Oooops, Alec
I mean ... a bunch

Certainly, I learnt using Salvat's BBC English, about 1987, that "people is" and "people are" are both correct when people in general is meant, as if they were gente and personas. I have proof of it, as that course is now -not legally- available on the web as pdfs and mp3s.
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Old April 14, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
I mean ... a bunch

Certainly, I learnt using Salvat's BBC English, about 1987, that "people is" and "people are" are both correct when people in general is meant, as if they were gente and personas. I have proof of it, as that course is now -not legally- available on the web as pdfs and mp3s.
You may have proof, but as you describe it, it is most certainly wrong. People in the singular has the quite specific meaning of a nation or a unity: "A king without a people..."

I checked in BNC and found 456 hits on "people is". I actually read through all these, and found none where the word people is the subject of the verb is. They were all of the type "Dealing with old people is difficult".

There are 5115 hits on "people are". A cursory glance showed that all (?) these seemed to have people the subject of are.
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Old April 14, 2012, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
You may have proof, but as you describe it, it is most certainly wrong. People in the singular has the quite specific meaning of a nation or a unity: "A king without a people..."

I checked in BNC and found 456 hits on "people is". I actually read through all these, and found none where the word people is the subject of the verb is. They were all of the type "Dealing with old people is difficult".

There are 5115 hits on "people are". A cursory glance showed that all (?) these seemed to have people the subject of are.
Thank you very much for the thoroughly research. I wonder why some mistakes survive revision in works of serious developers and editors. Though, in sight of the horrendous things I've read they published on Spanish subjunctive, I should not.

Regrettably, anyway I will continue to make such mistake now and then in the future as I learnt it wrongly the first time and it's brain-wired.
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