Thursday, 30 August 2012

Tell Me, Are Those Lessons Worthwhile?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. Perhaps the other person knows you are studying Spanish and that you have recently booked some half an hour lessons. The other person wants to know your opinion about how beneficial you think those lessons are and says to you something like: "tell me, are those lessons worthwhile?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿te valen la pena esas clases?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿a (usted) le valen la pena esas clases?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say how beneficial you think something is. When giving your opinion on something 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 your opinion. Perhaps you want express your opinion as:
  • Statements of fact-like information;
  • Statements of value judgement;

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Sí, me vale la pena ir a esas clases de español (yes, for me, it is worthwhile taking those Spanish lessons);
  • Sí, esas clases me valen la pena (yes, for me, those lessons are worthwhile);
  • En realidad, casi no me valen la pena esas clases (the reality is that for me, those lessons are almost pointless;
  • Vale la pena que el profe me ayude (my teacher's help is worthwhile);
  • No me vale la pena que las clases duren mucho más* (for me, it is not worthwhile making the lessons last much longer);
Now you should practise further replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿te valen la pena esas clases?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Subjunctive
Please note these are typical examples of the use of subjunctive mood. As a general rule, the subjunctive mood should be used in expressions of value judgement such as:
  • "For me, it is worthwhile/ not worthwhile/ pointless that something happens”
  • "For me, it is worthwhile/ not worthwhile/ pointless that something is in a particular way”
  • "For me, it is worthwhile/ not worthwhile/ pointless that someone – other than I does something”
  • "For me, it is worthwhile/ not worthwhile/ pointless that someone – other than I is in a particular way”


In order to express this in Spanish, you could use:
  • "(me) vale la pena que <subjuntivo>..."
  • "no (me) vale la pena que <subjuntivo>..."

An example of this is the reply above:
  • "Vale la pena que el profe me ayude".


Some other examples of expressions of this type in Spanish are:
  • No vale la pena que llueva (it is pointless that it rains);
  • No vale la pena que me cuentes mentiras (it is not worthwhile telling me lies);
  • No vale la pena que Pedro me llame (it is not worthwhile Pedro calling me);
  • Vale la pena que viajemos juntos (it is worthwhile us travelling together);
  • No me vale la pena que hagáis eso (for me, it is not worthwhile you doing that);
  • No vale la pena que Pedro y María vayan a Nueva York (it is not worthwhile Pedro and María going to New York);

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

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