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Difficulty understanding when to use subjunctive

I am often using the subjunctive tense when I should't. I came across the following translation:

Se ele escuta você? = If he hears you?

I thought we would use "escute" because he may or may not hear. Can someone explain?

August 1, 2013



the most correct should be "e se ele escuta(r) você?"(what if he hears you?), that's a warning, a piece of an advice. The subjuctive shows a hypothetical situation, that may or may not come true, or you wish or didn't wish for... "se ele escutasse você...." (if he heard you...) I put three dots (reticense) to show this sentence is incomplete, that is, the wish, desire, hypothetical situation has to be attached to another sentence, the main sentence, since "subjunctive" is a subordinated sentence: (1) SE ele te escutasse, (2) não mudaria de escola / (1) eu gostaria (2) QUE ele me escutasse. / (1) ele quer (2) QUE eu o escute


Thanks paulo! I'll take a look.


Thanks paulo, I am still confused unfortunately. I see that for "If he heard you" you used the subjunctive imperfect (escutasse), but for "If he hears you" you didn't use the subjunctive present.

I googled the subjunctive and found an article which said:

"Unlike the action of an indicative verb that is taking place, subjunctive actions may or may not occur."

So I think to myself "he may or may not hear you", therefore I should use subjunctive. I think this is the hardest part of the Portuguese language!


yes, unfortunately it may be a bit hard, mas que não seja tão difícil a ponto de fazê-lo desistir ;)

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