Saturday, 18 January 2014

Tell Me, Who Was Living Here?

Introduction
This post is about the practical use of verbs in general and more particularly the imperfect tense, indicative mood of regular verbs ending in -ir.





SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. Suddenly, as you point at a particular house, you appear to indicate that someone was living at that address some time in the past . The other person appears not to have heard you properly and says to you something like: "tell me, who was living here?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿quién vivía aquí?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿quién vivía aquí?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say who was living in the house you are looking at. When stating who was living in a given place, you may need to consider different levels of formality in your reply. That will be specifically the case when your answer includes a reference to the person you are talking to. The examples below include cases in which a more or less formal type of answer is required.

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Yo vivía* aquí (I was living here);
  • Tú vivías* aquí, ¿no? (you -familiar were living here, weren't you?);
  • Usted vivía* aquí, ¿no? (you -formal were living here, weren't you?);
  • Pedro vivía aquí, ¿no? (Pedro was living here, wasn't he?);
  • María vivía aquí, ¿no? (María was living here, wasn't she?);
  • Nosotros vivíamos* aquí, ¿no? (we were living here, weren't we?);
  • Vosotros vivíais* aquí, ¿no? (you -familiar/ plural were living here, weren't you?);
  • Ustedes vivían* aquí, ¿no? (you -formal/ plural were living here, weren't you?);
  • Pedro y María vivían* aquí, ¿no? (Pedro and Maria were living here, weren't they?);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién vivía aquí?

*Please see grammar topic below, Verbs

Verbs
A verb is a 'doing' word which conveys:
  • What action takes place in a sentence
  • Who does that action
  • When that action occurs.
In addition, the verb may also convey the mood or feelings of the speaker toward the action which takes place. The verb may, for example, indicate whether the speaker is stating a fact, expressing a wish or indeed giving an order.

Verb Conjugation
Please see notes on conjugation* at the end of this post.

Indicative Mood-Imperfect Tense
    1. Regular Verbs Ending in -ar
Subject
TRABAJAR
(TO WORK)
I
Yo
TRABAJABA
You
TRABAJABAS
You Usted*

TRABAJABA
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
TRABAJÁBAMOS
You
Vosotros**
TRABAJABAIS
You
Ustedes***
TRABAJABAN
They
Ellos
They
Ellas

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

    2. Regular Verbs Ending in -er
Subject
COMER
(TO EAT)
I
Yo
COMÍA
You
COMÍAS
You Usted*

COMÍA
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
COMÍAMOS
You
Vosotros**
COMÍAIS
You
Ustedes***
COMÍAN
They
Ellos
They
Ellas

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

3. Regular Verbs Ending in -ir
Subject
VIVIR
(TO LIVE)
I
Yo
VIVÍA
You
VIVÍAS
You Usted*

VIVÍA
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
VIVÍAMOS
You
Vosotros**
VIVÍAIS
You
Ustedes***
VIVÍAN
They
Ellos
They
Ellas

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

* Verb Conjugation Notes
It is worth remembering once more that in its basic form (infinitive), a Spanish verb is just a general 'doing' word. In that form, a verb simply indicates an action and nothing else. If we want a verb to be more specific about the action in a sentence, we need to conjugate it. It is only when conjugated that the verb indicates:
  • Who does the action
  • When the action takes place
  • The mood/ attitude of the speaker towards the action

The conjugation tables above refer to using conjugation establish who does the action. What follows below are some notes on establishing when the action takes place and the mood/ attitude of the speaker towards the action.

Subjunctive Mood
The use of subjunctive mood is disappearing English. Nowadays is often viewed as an old and unfashionable form of the language.

In contrast, the use of subjunctive mood is very much alive and in everyday use in Spanish. This widespread use of subjunctive mood tends to be the bane of many a learner of Spanish from the English speaking world.

The concept of subjunctive mood is perhaps best illustrated by contrasting its use against the use of indicative mood with examples in English. The following are a couple of examples which should serve that purpose:
  • Indicative mood (“Peter eats an apple”).- Indicative mood is commonly used to make statements of facts or positive beliefs such as this one. As can be seen in the sample sentence (in quotes above), the speaker makes a clear and unambiguous statement of a fact (Peter eats an apple).
  • Subjunctive mood (“Peter would eat an apple if he were hungry”).- In contrast with indicative mood, subjunctive mood is commonly used to make statements indicating hypothetical or non-fact actions. As can be seen in the sample sentence (in quotes), in this case the speaker sees the action of eating an apple as something hypothetical, something which may or may not happen (Peter would eat an apple... if he were hungry).
Verb Tenses
Verb tenses relate to setting the time period (when) during which the action of the verb takes place. Basic times (periods) for Spanish verb actions are:
  • The past (before now)
  • The present (now)
  • The future (after now)

Each Spanish verb tense corresponds to one of those basic time periods. In other words choosing a verb tense places the action of the verb in one of those basic periods and determines when the action takes place.


Now you should practise the use of the imperfect-indicative mood of regular verbs with some examples of your own.

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