Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Tell Me, What Are You Trying To Prevent...?

Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. You are maybe talking about a dispute or problem you are having. You seemed to have mentioned that your next step is to write a letter to someone with the aim of preventing a deterioration of the current situation. At some point, the other person says to you something like: "tell me, what are you trying to prevent with that letter?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿que intentas impedir con esa carta?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿que intenta impedir (usted) con esa carta?

The question is an invitation for you to talk about your intentions. When saying what you are trying to achieve in a situation like this, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about communicating what you are trying to prevent. Perhaps you want to say that, with your letter, you are trying to prevent:
  • Something happening;
  • Prevent other people doing something;

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Intento impedir el deshaucio (I am trying to prevent eviction);
  • Intento impedir que me desahucien por impago de hipoteca* (I am trying to prevent my home being re-possessed because I fall behind with my mortgage);
  • Intento impedir que el banco me califique como moroso* (I am trying to prevent the bank rating me as a bad debtor);
  • Intento impedir que mis acreedores me demanden* (I am trying to prevent my creditors suing me);
Now you should practise further replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿que intentas impedir con esa carta?

*Please see grammar below

Please note these are typical examples of the use of subjunctive mood. As a general rule, when the Spanish verb “impedir” (to prevent) is used as a verb of influence, it requires the use of a subjunctive mood in the corresponding subordinate/ dependent clauses.

Some examples of the use of the subjunctive in subordinate/ dependent clauses of this type are:
  • De esa forma, impido que Pedro me llame (that way, I will prevent Pedro from calling me);
  • No vas a impedir que lo hagamos (are you not going to prevent us doing it);
  • Pedro va a impedir que volvamos a su casa (Pedro is going to prevent us from going back to his house);
  • Así impedimos que Antonio nos moleste (thus we will prevent Antonio from bothering us);
  • ¿Vas a impedir que cenemos más tarde? (are you going to prevent us from having supper later?);
  • Marta y Alfonso quieren impedir que te ayude (Marta and Alfonso want to prevent me from helping you);

Now you should practice this use of the subjunctive with some more sentences of your own

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