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  5. "Si yo pudiera comer pescado."

"Si yo pudiera comer pescado."

Translation:If I could eat fish.

March 20, 2013



Am I the only one who thinks that this is not a complete sentence?


It's not a complete sentence. It's a fragment. There are quite a few fragments on Duolingo, actually.


People frequently speak in fragments, especially when answering a question. The rest of the sentence is implied.

For example, "I bet you're hoping Tommy asks you to dance tonight!" The response: "If I didn't have two left feet!" The "I bet you're hoping...." is an indirect question. The response omits the "Yes, I would hope that..." before the "...if I didn't have two left feet." but it is understood to be part of the sentence. "Yes!" has no subject or verb, is certainly a fragment, but IS a sentence and would never appear with end punctuation.

Determining if something is a question is easier in speech, when you have inflection to guide you. It is much more difficult in written communication, in Spanish or English. One clue In written Spanish is the presence or absence of accents on some words. In written statements, you'll find que, donde, and other words, without accents. If the writer intends to present an indirect question, you can find accented versions of those words with a period at the end of the sentence, even when there is no question mark.

An example: "Quisiera saber dónde puedo encontrar algún programa para convertir archivos de MP3." "I would like to know where I can find a program for converting MP3 files."

If you come across a direct or indirect question, it will often be followed by a sentence fragment as you're expected to assume it's an answer and the rest of the context is in the question.

It would be nice if DL gave us enough surrounding material to figure out these truncated sentences. Hope that helped?


Hey NEGenge, what's the difference between "Querría saber..." and "Quisiera saber"?


"Queria saber" is "I wanted to know". "Quisiera saber" is "I wish I knew!"


There are three verbs in Spanish - querer, gustar and poder that use the preterite subjunctive to indicate a polite request: I would like? Could you?


Conditional vs preterito de subjuntivo, this is what you want to dinstinguish between? Starting and ending a concept....quisiera saber, pero no podria (start with past subjunctive, end with conditional)


This was a great example, thank you. Very clear. Although my question is where is the ONLY implied. I have never seen a sentence in English or Spanish that implied ONLY. At least not to my recollection!


The rest of the sentence would be something like "...I would eat it all the time."


Right. In Spanish, in the construction “if x, then y”, x takes the subjunctive (because you don't know if x is true), and y takes the conditional (because y would be true if condition x were satisfied).


You both are very right. There are basically two "if... then..." construction in Spanish, a realistic one and a hypothetical one.

Realistic if

You use this one for realistic possibilities

construction: Si + present, (then) present/future

example: si mi madre cocina repollo, comeré en un restaurante

(If my mother cooks cabbage, I will eat in a restaurant)

Hypothetical if

You use this one for non realistic constructions

construction: si + (subjuntivo imperfecto), condicional

example: si yo fuera el presidente, sería muy famoso

(if I were the president, I'd be very famous)


So this hypothetical "if .... then... " construct has to take the PAST (imperfect) subjunctive then? It makes more sense to use the present subjunctive ("si yo pueda comer pescado") but if its a fixed construction, then so be it (more subj. lol), I guess....


Yes, there are many subtle variations depending on the circumstances.

In English, "were" is the subjective version of "was", for example: "If I were rich..." - "Si (yo) fuera rico..." Imperfect Subjunctive ("fuera")- when talking conditionally in the present or future if the condition is improbable, impossible, or hypothetical.

"If the store is open,..." - "Si la tienda está abierta,..." Simple Present ("está") if the condition is probable or it would not be surprising to be true - present or future.

Here's a great explanation about the English subjunctive. http://grammarist.com/grammar/subjunctive-mood/

If we had been talking conditionally about the past, for example: "If I had been rich..." - "Si (yo) hubiera sido rico..." Past Perfect Subjunctive ("hubiera sido") - when talking conditionally in the past

Here's a great explanation of the use of conditional and subjunctive in a conditional context in Spanish. There are more uses of conditional than I thought. http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/condic.htm

Are there other options which you know that people use in actual practice? Perhaps simpler? Thanks.


It's a bit like the English language: "If (only) I were able to eat fish". "were" is also sort of past tense that is used for hypothetical situations.


Well that depends, you can also have it with the present tense and the future, just as in English. "If it rains, we will stay at home" (si llueve, nos quedaremos en casa). Equally "if it were raining, we would stay at home" (si lloviera, nos quedaríamos en casa). "were" is the subjective imperfect in English (though "was" is replacing it these days). So actually the subjunctive in the past is pretty easy – if you know how to speak 'posh' then you know it already :P

Basically: If + present + then + future = possibility Or: If + imperfect subjective + then + condition = impossibility.


So this "if .... then... " construct has to take the PAST (imperfect) subjunctive then? It makes more sense to use the present subjunctive, but if its a fixed construction, then so be it (more subj. lol), I guess....


I found this complete and concise description of the various constructs of "If...then...". It explains which mood and tense to use in differing situations of possibility, hypotheticality, past/present/future timing for both the "if" clause and the "then" clause


For me, it was eye-opening and ah-ha filled. Explained the nuances which caused me to be confused just when I thought I understood it.


"If I could eat fish..." is incomplete. "If only I could eat fish" is complete - "If only" is a way of saying "I wish".


but the spanish doesn't look like a complete sentence.


The English is a statement of regret. Statements of requre require the subjunctive. The Spanish is in the subjunctive, thus you know it meets one of the conditions for a subjunctive (regret, doubt, hesitation, etc.)


This seems to me like an exclamation within the context of a larger conversation:

  • Waiter: We have a nice fish special tonight.

  • Customer who is allergic to fish: "If only I could eat fish!" or "I wish I could eat fish! "


It is a complete sentence, there is nothing structurally lacking.


No, the"If" , or "only if" makes it a subordinate clause needing to be completed by a main clause.

However, note my comment below, that this "fragment" construction is not uncommon.


You're about right (about thinking it's a sentence fragment). I almost wrote it without the "only". Without the "only", it is a sentence fragment (incomplete sentence, a subordinate clause without a main clause) and has no meaning.. However, the "only" changes it to a kind of sentence.

The "only" makes it an "exclamatory sentence", aka "minor sentence." Despite beginning with a "subordinating conjunction" (if), as an "exclamatory sentence" it still conveys meaning. (It also might be considered an "elliptical sentence." )

Other examples include: "What the heck!" "Good job" "hello" "Me, not you." "(Anyone) hungry?" "Hungry, anyone?"


Also see NRGenge above.


It isn't. Please ask them to remove the period.


Nah, y'know: Like, "Oh, I'm hungry! If only I had a hamburger."


This is perhaps better written as "If only I could each fish....." It's not uncommon to express a regret in this way.

This notion of regret makes the Spanish be subjunctive.

(Notice my subjunctive here.)


No you're not. Accurate instructions might help. Anyway it doesn't make sense on its own.


Where is the only represented in this phrase?


I agree!! And I see no discussion of that here. I was not marked wrong, yet still want to understand.


It's an indirect translation. Literally, it's "If I were able to eat fish," "If only I could eat fish" is a phrase with a similar meaning in English.


Si can mean "if only." "Only" may also be implied by the imperfect subjunctive. It's used for things that you wish could happen but are either impossible or extremely difficult.


"If I could eat fish" is also correct and accepted. "if only..." is a just a more idiomatic way of saying it.


if you click 'conjugate' on 'pudiera', pudiera is not shown in the list at all. where does 'pudiera' come from?!!


You're right, it's not there (it should be. "pudiera" is the imperfect subjunctive. You make it by taking the past tense (preterite) of 3rd person plural ("ellos pudieron"), taking away the "on", and adding the inflections: "-a/-as/-a/-amos/-ais/-an").

See: http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/100058/imperfect-subjunctive#.UYYST0rtrtw


You have to click the "subjunctive" tab.


where does the only come from. This seems like a lesson in idioms rather than learning a verb form


Hi Duolingo ! any reason that those verbs like "pudiera" and "podria" do not appear in the verb conjugation table ? I think it would help alot


Both pudiera and podría are in the tables for poder; you just need to make those tables visible. Pudiera is in the Subjunctive table (past tense), you need to select the Subjunctive mood (by default the Indicative mood is displayed). Podría is in the Indicative table (conditional tense), you need to click on "Show more tenses →".


As far as I noticed, it IS a complete sentence. Isn't "si pudiera" used as "if ONLY I could"?


Where is the 'only' in this phrase?


According to Google, one of the meanings of "si": Introduce oraciones exclamativas en las que se expresa un deseo de algo que se considera poco probable o imposible. "¡si me llamara, aunque solo fuera una vez!; ¡si fuera un poquito más alto!"

The second example given here "¡si fuera un poquito más alto!" is very similar to "Si yo pudiera comer pescado." Thus, after reading this definition and its examples, I am convinced that this sentence isn't lacking anything. The "si" is sufficient, there is no need for "only", but I guess that there could be "only" if you wanted to.


This is from Wordreference:

si (enfatiza la expresión de un deseo = to emphasize a wish) = if only

¡Si Dios escucha mis súplicas, se disiparán mis temores!


I don't have a problem with fragments, but they should leave periods off when the "sentence" is a fragment.


They should. Someone should suggest that to them.

  • 1626

"Yes, i could eat fish" is marked wrong. Evidently "si" ="if"


sí = yes, si = if (pay attention to the accents :)


I hate the font Duo has chosen. The accents are really hard to see. Half the time, I am using Crtl+ or Ctrl- to zoom in and out just to read the accents


I agree, especially the i, which is difficult to distinguish between a dot and an accent. I did ask at one time if they could make the accents a bit larger to enable everyone to notice it better.


I very much agree. The text needs to be in bold, bigger and always black. I use three different platforms, and the only one where I can distinguish an i from an í, and then with difficulty, is using a 20 inch monitor.


Is pudiera here in subjunctive? I am so confused by this type of speaking


imperfect subjunctive.


They suggested to me "If only I could eat fish". Where's the "only" come from? I didnt see "solo" in the spanish translation.


If only i could eat fish is different to if i could eat fish... Only defines the "want" to eat the fish...


Can you say "if i olnly could eat fish? (Spanish is my native lenguaje, i'm here to learn more inglish...


Yes, "If I only could eat fish" is a valid alternative.


Yes, but "if only I could eat fish" is more clear in meaning. It expresses a wish which absolutely cannot be fulfilled, for an unknown reason (allegery, being in the desert, etc.). There is no time reference - it can mean I want to, but cannot eat fish right now (in the desert) - or for the rest of my life (allergy).

"If I only could eat fish" is somewhat ambiguous. It may mean what is stated in the above paragraph - or it could mean a desire to eat fish and nothing else but fish. A diet exclusively of fish. ("If I could eat only fish" or "If I could eat fish only").

The much, much better choice is "If only I could eat fish".


Come to think of it, only can appear at any position in this sentence, resulting in about three different meanings (and two cases being ambiguous).


Why is it not a complete sentence ????


It's a fragment like the song from "The Wizard of Oz", "If I Only Had A Brain". The rest is implied.


pudiera ser asi : if I could eat fish ?


Is there a reason that, "would that I could eat fish" is incorrect? The two sentences (mine and Duo's given translation) -- in English have same/similar meaning. Slightly confused.


Possibly the reason is that no-one speaks like that any more. It's very Jane Austen.


Unfinished sentence!


what happened to the tips before taking the lesson....i am having extreme difficulty with this particular lesson


Why is this the past imperfect subjunctive and not the present subjunctive?


Subjunctive is a weird mood and its concepts of "present" and "past" do not line up with what those words usually mean. It's probably better just to think that there are two distinct tenses of the subjunctive and then learn which should be used in which situation.

The good news is that there is alignment between English and Spanish here. If Spanish uses the imperfect subjunctive then English uses the past subjunctive.

We can see that here because "could" is a past subjunctive form, not present subjunctive. Or to make it even clearer, replace the verb "can" with "to be able to". Then "If I could eat fish" becomes "If I were able to eat fish". Using "were" for non-plurals is also past subjunctive, and this is easy to remember since "were" is past tense.


is 'if I could have eaten fish' incorrect?


That means "si hubiera podido comer pescado". It's more like a regret


Hi Julia, That is what I would like to know too. It must be meaning and not direct translation. This last part of the tree is challenging.


Porque no acepta con... to eat fish?


Porque can/could es un verbo modal, que no utiliza el "to" antes del infinitivo. Otros ejemplos incluyen will/would, shall/should, do/did y may/might/must.

Haz clic aquí para aprender más. Saludos.


oh cierto :D gracias


I'm happy to help.


The sense of the sentence does not require 'solo' in Spanish, but it does in English.


I fail to see the word "only" in the Spanish version...


It is not necessary to include 'solo' in Spanish, but it is in Englis.


I get the " If I could eat fish" part, where does the only come from?


which word means " only" here?!!


What confuses me about this is that there is no WEIRDO verb to trigger the past subjunctive, presumably it's implied somehow but I can't see how exactly.


I don't get where the word 'only' comes from. I thought 'pudiera' means 'could', thus I translate this sentence as 'If I could eat fish'. Please could someone explain, thank you.


It's a bit like the 1st conditional and 2nd conditional in English (this example being the 2nd).

1st conditional: If I pass my exams, I'm going to University (probable, expected)

2nd conditional: If I won the lottery, I would go on a cruise (highly improbable, bordering on impossible)

In Spanish, you use the past tense of the subjunctive for the 2nd type of conditional ("pudiera"), and the simple present tense for the first type ("puedo"). Because we see "pudiera" in this sentence, we know its the 2nd, highly improbable type... so some people prefer to include the word "only" in English to stress the highly improbable, bordering on impossible, nature of the conditional. HTH


Did it count your's right?


Is there a rule about it? Could you explain it to me, please?


Why not "yes I could eat fish"?


You need to pay attention to the accents:

sí (accented) => yes
si (unaccented) => if


please what are modal verbs?


They can be very complicated to understand. Here is a page on modal verbs in English https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_modal_verbs


The right translation would be... si tan solo yo pudiera comer pescado


Does anyone understand why it is the imperfect subjunctive and not the present subjunctive?


"If only I could eat fish" is a good example of a 'wish'. A more complete sentence could be "si yo pudiera comer pescado, yo lo comeria" (conditional).


"if i were able to eat fish" is accepted.


"If only I was able to eat fish." was not accepted. Why?


I said "If I would be able to eat fish." OK, it's not elegant, but I think it should be accepted.


The truth is we frequently speak in incomplete sentences, whatever the language. It can make life tough for learners but it's so satisfying when you get to the point when you do it naturally in your target language. I would translate this phrase as 'if only I could eat fish', still not a complete sentence but a more natural phrase I think.


Why not translate to 'if I were able to eat fish' - this should be a better translation of the imperfect subjunctive as the imperfect implies some time in the past. 'To be able ' means the same in English as 'could' - although could on its own can have two meanings in English and it is not clear when taken out of context.


That's a valid alternative. It's not better than "could" though, just different. Just because "could" is ambiguous doesn't make it mean it's not the best translation. English is full of ambiguity after all.


This is the most frustrating lesson I have done to date. As it gets more complicated, it would be nice if Duo threw in a few tips.

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