https://www.duolingo.com/thekatmorgan

Conditional vs Subjunctive

  • 22
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 10

I dont understand the difference or how these are used in English let alone in Spanish

Can someone please explain what the difference is (how it is used in English) as at the moment they just blend into one in my head..

Anything using would, should, could etc just totally seems like they are both to me.

e.g

"If I were a wealthy man, I wouldn’t have to work hard." is "if I were" subjunctive and "I wouldn't have" conditional? or does it stay subjunctive

“If I were a better cook, I could entertain more.” Same for this example..

'Had I left earlier, I would not have been late" What tense is "had I" and "I would" ?

"I should try harder" What tense?

1 year ago

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/BenYoung84
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 10
  • 9
  • 10

Without getting into all the combinations, your first three examples are called Conditional sentences. In each of the sentences you have one clause that supposes a hypothetical situation that didn't really happen - also described as counterfactual. This clause is subjunctive because the subjunctive deals with hypothetical and counterfactual situations. In fact these cases are actually past subjunctive.

The other clause in each case makes a claim based on assuming the hypothetical situation is true. This clause is conditional because it depends upon a condition being met.

So when you see sentences in this form it's pretty straightforward to identify which bit is subjunctive and which bit is conditional.

The simplest way to conjugate a verb as past subjunctive in English is to put 'were' before it (or replace it with 'were' if it's the verb 'be'). And the simplest way to conjugate a verb as conditional in English is to put 'would' before it.

Whenever you deal with could, would and should in English you have to be careful because they can cover several different situations, including past tense, conditional, subjunctive or even present.

The 'should' in 'I should try harder' could potentially mean a lot of things but most commonly it would imply the present tense, with "should" roughly being a synonym for 'am supposed to' in this case.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
  • 25
  • 1636
  • “If I were a wealthy man, I wouldn’t have to work hard.” — the verb in the protasis (the “if …” part) is subjunctive, and the verb in the apodosis (the “then …” part) is conditional;
  • “If I were a better cook, I could entertain more.” — ditto;
  • “Had I left earlier, I would not have been late” — the verb in the protasis is pluperfect subjunctive, and the verb in the apodosis is perfect conditional;
  • “I should try harder” — the verb is conditional (in this case, a modal verb with a preterite form).
1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BenYoung84
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 10
  • 9
  • 10

"were" is past subjunctive, not present subjunctive.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
  • 25
  • 1636

A past subjunctive inflection, yes.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DeltaHotel
  • 25
  • 9
  • 1045

You have some good feedback here, already. But I'll offer a few ideas that may be helpful.

The conditional is used to describe a hypothetical outcome that may or may not happen. In English, most often we use the word WOULD. You offer examples of conditional verbs in your question, above.

The subjective is often called a mood tense (which is terribly un-helpful!) :) The subjective is used when we are expressing hopes/wishes, possibilities, uncertainties, etc. The sentence will have two clauses, a subject/verb in the normal indicative tense, then a subject/verb in the subjective tense. Separating the two clauses you will typically use QUE.

<main clause expressing hope, uncertainty, etc.> + QUE + <subjective clause>

So when expressing the feelings in the bullet list below, that QUE is your trigger. If you express these sorts of feelings, then use QUE, the subjective will follow.

Here's a list of some of the common conversational triggers for the subjunctive:

  • expressing a hope, wish (espero que..., quizás... )
  • opinions (es <adjective> que...)
  • requests or wants (quiero que...)
  • recommendations (recomiendo que..., insisto que...)
  • possibilities (es probable que...)
  • uncertainties (no creo que..., no pienso que...)

Quiero que entiendas subjetivo! Espero que mi mensaje aquí sea útil.

1 year ago
Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.