Translation:He did not even want to know my name.
I realize my mistake now, but in researching it, I found something interesting. From a source on verbs - 501 Spanish Verbs - by C Kendris, it says that "some verbs that express a mental state have a different meaning when used in the preterit." These verbs are conocer, poder, querer, saber, and tener. For example, querer when used in the negative in the preterit, means refused (No quise hacerlo. - I refused to do it.). Another example, saber, to know, means found out in the preterit (Supe la verdad. = I found out the truth. Conocer means met in preterit, poder means failed or did not succeed in negative preterit, and tener means received in the preterit. I just found this interesting and thought I would post it here.
All of these examples are actually great illustrations of the difference between preterite and imperfect -- between something that happens over a period of time, versus something that happens at a particular instant. The preterite forms describe a moment in time in which either a condition changes or is asserted as particularly relevant.
With conocer, you have the moment at which you go from not knowing somebody, to knowing them: Yo lo conozco. I know him. I am familiar with him. Yo lo conocí. I became familiar with him. I met him. Similarly, with saber, you came-to-know something: you learned it, or found out about it. With tener, you go from not-having to having: you received something.
In each of these cases, if the condition obtained continuously -- if you're discussing a story in the past, in which you knew somebody or something, or had something -- you'd use imperfect.
A negative poder implies that in that particular moment, in that attempt, you were unable to do something. By asserting an inability in that moment, you're saying that you failed. Similarly, using a negative querer preterite says that the not-wanting in that moment was highly salient; that the not-wanting was asserted, as a refusal or rejection.
Again, if you wanted to say that in the past-tense period of your story, you were able to do something, or you wanted to do something, and that condition obtained continuously; then you'd use imperfect.
This explanation of the use in the negative is excellent. I am struggling with deber in the negative. Deber to mean should we use the conditional. What I have seen is these two sentences (from memory)
He should never have read my diary - Duo used debió - but that isn't conditional - so I am assuming if in the negative now it means should.
I was not suppose to say anything - Duo used debía - now its imperfect. ( I used debía because this was all fresh in my mind)
I am not sure I really understand - is it that we need to think of modal verbs in the negative as having different meanings? Rules?
I think the reason the deber conjugation is preterite there is that the most natural interpretation of the English sentence is that we're talking about a specific instance / moment in which he read your diary, and at that instant he ought not to have read it. "Nunca" / "never" is simply for emphasis. If you use imperfect, you're suggesting that over a period of time, he owed a duty to not read your diary. I'm not sure whether this works to imply that he was reading it habitually, like an abusive boyfriend secretly keeping tabs on his victim?
I struggle with sophisticated uses of deber. I find it helps somewhat to remember that it has more to do with duty than necessity. Deber derives from the same Latinate root as English "debt" and "duty". The English words "ought" and "owe" derive from the Germanic root that shares the most similar semantics.
The situation that most throws me for a loop is figuring out how to construct sentences that convey the difference between lacking a duty to do something (so it's optional); and having a positive duty to not do something. Like, is, "Él no debía hacer eso," ambiguous, or is it clearly, "He had no duty to do that."? And is it legal to say, "Él debía no hacer eso," to convey, "He had a duty to not do that."? This is complicated by the fact that in general, in Spanish, negation is applied to a whole clause; there's no such thing as a "double negative", as in English.
The "he never should have read my diary" thing is an instance of exactly this "positive duty to not do" construction. And like I said, I've never understood how to express that with complete clarity. I think for this case, I would go with, "¡Él no debió leer mi diario nunca!" I'm intentionally doing the "double negative" thing for emphasis.
Anyways, maybe eventually a truly bilingual speaker will stop by and enlighten us. :-)
Funny! I love the funny replies especially in this lesson which is my least favorite, or the one lesson I hate.
I've been having trouble figuring out when to use the preterite or imperfect of 'querer' but this one really seems to me like a particular event that would require the use of the preterite, not the imperfect. What am I missing?
If you're talking about wanting as an ongoing state, it's going to end up imperfect.
Using preterite conveys something more emphatic. "Él no quiso saber mi nombre," is almost like, "He rejected knowing my name. He refused to know my name." I tried to tell it to him, but he didn't want to hear it.
See Machupichoo's comment above.
1) I equate "saber" with "to know how to"; would it be alright to use conocer here? 2) My answer was He not even wanted to know my name, which was marked as incorrect, but it seems to be the same as the correct answer in meaning, tense, etc.
2) When negating past tense verbs in English, "VERBed" it becomes "did not VERB", this is just one of those weird rules that you have to know. So you have to phrase it: "He did not even want"
Huh. The connotations of conocer and saber are slightly different here, I guess, and it does seem like conocer might actually be the more likely translation of the most likely interpretation of the English sentence. "He didn't care enough to become familiar with my name." With saber, it's like, "He didn't care to memorize the dry fact that my name is [whatever]."
Is there a strong difference of pronunciation between the two forms of:
and querria (conditional)
the only difference is the double r in the later..
Ni siquiera messed me up, especially when it had contradictory meanings: not even, even, at least; most confusing.
I've seen this same sentence so many times, I don't think that I would want to know either.