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https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

Imperfect Subjunctive Confuses Me

"Me gustaría mucho que usted hiciera el ejercicio bien."
Translation: I would really like it if you did the exercise well.

"Yo quería que mi hijo hiciera su tarea antes de jugar."
Translation: I wanted my son to do his homework before playing.

"Yo sería más fuerte si hiciera más ejercicio."
Translation: I would be stronger if I were to exercise more.

Why is hiciera 'did' in the first sentence, 'to do' in the second sentence, and 'were to' in the third sentence?

I get that these sentences are basically two phrases, for example:
Me gustaría mucho // que usted hiciera el ejercicio bien."
conditional // imperfect subjunctive

'que' and 'si' act as the dividing line, but I don't understand how hiciera means three different things.

3 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

Another way to translate the sentences that keeps "did" in all three is...

1st sentence: I would really like it if you did the exercise well.

2nd sentence: I wanted that my son did his homework before playing.

3rd sentence: I would be stronger if I did more exercise.

Edit: Thanks for the lingots!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

Thanks! Some of my confusion stems from getting the 'hiciera' confused, when I used the wrong one, it would mark the sentence incorrect for having used the wrong tense. The next time I see these sentences I'll try to keep track of which solutions are marked correct and which ones aren't.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

Might be good to post specific ones you found troublesome like you did in this post.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
Ilmarien
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It means the same thing throughout; there are just different ways to express the idea in English.

You could translate the first one as "I would really like you to do the exercise well" and the third one as "I would be stronger if I did more exercise." That way you can see that everything can be expressed in English with the "to do" construction.

Alternatively, you could also translate the first one "I would really like it if you were to do the exercise well," which I think in some ways is the best option, since "were to" is subjunctive in English as well. But yeah, the meaning isn't changing; it's just being translated inconsistently because English has various ways of handling this sort of sentence.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

That helps me to think about the translation being inconsistent. I guess I have to get used to them not being the same.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/joelohdez
joelohdez
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I think, The issue is in the 2nd and 3rd sentence:

2nd "Yo quisiera que mi hijo haga* (to do) su tarea antes de jugar" 3rd "Yo sería mas fuerte si yo hiciera (did) más ejercicio"

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

These are they way that DuoLingo presents the sentences and their preferred translation. I cannot change them. I'll just have to do my best to look up all sorts of grammar guides and try to piece it together.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshBauer1

It's because in spanish the imperfect subjunctive is used in more ways than in English, so sometimes to make it work in English you have to word it differently. One way the imperfect subjunctive is used in Spanish is in conditional if statements, such as the 1st and 3rd, which can be worded the same in English. In Spanish, however, it is also used for subjunctive statements that happened in the past, wants, wishes, things contrary to fact, as in the second example, which has to be worded differently in English.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

I think I learned it as 'SiPS + Would' in school, but it was something that I didn't exactly understand even back then. I had a Spanish-speaking exchange student for a friend at the time who couldn't even explain it to me. I keep on looking for the formula that begins with "if" and these don't match.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshBauer1

A conditional sentence is worded like this: conditional statement + si + imperfect subjunctive statement For example: Comería más pollo si tuviera hambre The order of the statements can also be reversed: si + imperfect subjunctive statement + , + conditional statement For example: Si tuviera hambre, comería más pollo

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElimGarak

http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/100058/imperfect-subjunctive So most if clauses / conditional are imperfect subjunctive, but it not necessarily true that they are one and the same?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshBauer1

Not all if statements use the conditional mood, but if they do, then the other clause is in imperfect subjunctive. Here's a site that does a good job of explaining the different tenses and moods. https://espanol.lingolia.com/es/gramatica/tiempos-subjuntivo/preterito-imperfecto

3 years ago