This post is about verb conjugation -the imperfect tense, subjunctive mood of irregular verb dormir.
Imagine you are with a relative, friend or colleague and other people with whom you are sharing accommodation temporarily. You are looking at a room where someone was likely to have slept. The other person says: "tell me, who was likely to have slept here?".
In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
Dime, ¿quién era probable que durmiera aquí?
On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
Dígame, ¿quién era probable que durmiera aquí?
Making a sentence which answers that question should be straightforward, but remember:
- Make sure that you conjugate your verb correctly
- Choose between formal or familiar options to suit the occasion -see examples below.
Typical answers could be:
- Era probable que yo durmiera* aquí (it was likely that I slept here);
- Era probable que tú durmieras* aquí, ¿no? (it was likely that you -familiar slept here, wasn't it?);
- Era probable que usted durmiera* aquí, ¿no? (it was likely that you -formal slept here, wasn't it?);
- Era probable que Pedro durmiera* aquí (it was likely that Pedro slept here);
- Era probable que María durmiera* aquí (it was likely that Maria slept here);
- Era probable que mis amigos y yo durmiéramos* aquí (it was likely that my friends and I slept here);
- Era probable que vosotros durmierais* aquí, ¿no? (it was likely that you people -familiar/ plural slept here, wasn't it?);
- Era probable que ustedes durmieran* aquí, ¿no? (it was likely that you people -formal/ plural slept here, wasn't it?);
- Era probable que Pedro y María durmieran* aquí (it was likely that Pedro and María slept here);
Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién era probable que durmiera aquí?
*Please see grammar topic below, 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.
The Spanish verb dormir is irregular* in some tenses, as shown in the table below:
- TenseMoodRegularIrregularPresentIndicative✓ImperfectIndicative✓PreteriteIndicative✓FutureIndicative✓ConditionalIndicative✓PerfectIndicative✓PluperfectIndicative✓Future PerfectIndicative✓Conditional PerfectIndicative✓PresentSubjunctive✓ImperfectSubjunctive✓PerfectSubjunctive✓PluperfectSubjunctive✓
- Conjugate tenses in the regular column the same as other regular verbs ending in -ir
- The imperfect tense conjugation/ subjunctive mood is shown below
Subjunctive Mood/ Imperfect Tense - Conjugation
- SubjectDORMIR(TO SLEEP)
IYoDURMIERA oDURMIESE YouTúDURMIERAS oDURMIESES You Usted*DURMIERA oDURMIESE He Él SheElla WeNosotrosDURMIÉRAMOS oDURMIÉSEMOS YouVosotros**DURMIERAIS oDURMIESEIS YouUstedes***DURMIERAN 0DURMIESESN TheyEllos TheyEllas
*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 to 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.
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 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 tense of the irregular verb dormir with some examples of your own.
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