Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Tell Me, Who Was Likely To Call Him?

Introduction


This post is about verb conjugation and in particular the imperfect tense, subjunctive mood of regular verbs ending in -ar.





SCENARIO


Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague about a third person (male). It appears that someone phoned him. You are speculating about who that person might be. At some point, the other person says: "tell me, who was likely to call him?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
Dime, ¿quién era probable que lo llamase?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
Dígame, ¿quién era probable que lo llamase?



OUR TIP

Consider using a subjunctive mood if you want to indicate that your answer is speculative/ not fact. Make sure that you conjugate your verbs correctly. Remember that in some cases you will have to choose between a more formal or a less formal option -see examples below.


Typical answers could be:
  • Era probable que lo llamase* yo, ¿no? (it was likely that I called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamases* tú, ¿no? (it was likely that you -familiar called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamase* usted, ¿no? (it was likely that you -formal called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamase* Pedro, ¿no? (it was likely that Pedro called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamase* María, ¿no? (it was likely that María called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamásemos* nosotros, ¿no? (it was likely that we called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamaseis* vosotros, ¿no? (it was likely that you -familiar/ plural called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamasen* ustedes, ¿no? (it was likely that you -formal/ plural called him, wasn't it?);
  • Era probable que lo llamasen* sus padres, ¿no? (it was likely that his parents called him, wasn't it?);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién era probable que lo llamase?

*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.

Subjunctive Mood-Imperfect Tense

    1. Regular Verbs Ending in -ar
Subject
TRABAJAR
(TO WORK)
I
Yo
TRABAJARA o TRABAJASE
You
TRABAJARAS o TRABAJASES
You Usted*

TRABAJARA o TRABAJASE
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
TRABAJÁRAMOS o TRABAJÁSEMOS
You
Vosotros**

TRABAJARAIS o TRABAJASEIS
You
Ustedes***
TRABAJARAN o TRABAJASEN
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
COMIERA o COMIESE
You
COMIERAS o COMIESES
You Usted*

COMIERA o COMIESE
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
COMIÉRAMOS o COMIÉSEMOS
You
Vosotros**
COMIERAIS o COMIESEIS
You
Ustedes***
COMIERAN o COMIESEN
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
VIVIERA o VIVIESE
You
VIVIERAS o VIVIESES
You Usted*
VIVIERA o VIVIESE
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
VIVIÉRAMOS o VIVIÉSEMOS
You
Vosotros**
VIVIERAIS o VIVIESEIS
You
Ustedes***
VIVIERAN o VIVIESEN
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-subjunctive mood of regular verbs with some examples of your own.

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