Tiempo: pretérito pluscuamperfecto (pluperfect tense)
This post is about verb conjugation -the pluperfect tense, subjunctive mood of irregular verb poner.
Imagine you are talking to relatives, friends or colleagues. You are talking about what happened at a recent group meal. This was a gathering like others which take place on a regular basis at someone's house. Preparing the food, setting the table, etcetera, is something you usually take turns doing. However, something unforeseen occurred this time. All went well in the end, but someone who isn't familiar with what happened says to you: "tell me, in all likelihood who would have set the table?"
In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
Dime, ¿quién era más probable que hubiera puesto la mesa?
On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
Dígame, ¿quién era más probable que hubiera puesto la mesa?
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:
- Lo más probable era que yo hubiera puesto* la mesa (in all likelihood I would have set the table)
- Lo más probable era que tú hubieras puesto* la mesa, ¿no? (in all likelihood you -familiar would have set the table, wouldn't you?)
- Lo más probable era que usted hubiera puesto* la mesa, ¿no? (in all likelihood you -formal would have set the table, wouldn't you?)
- Lo más probable era que Pedro hubiera puesto* la mesa (in all likelihood Pedro would have set the table)
- Lo más probable era que María hubiera puesto* la mesa (in all likelihood Maria would have set the table)
- Lo más probable era que Pedro y yo hubiéramos puesto* la mesa (in all likelihood Pedro and I would have set the table)
- Lo más probable era que vosotros hubierais puesto* la mesa, ¿no? (in all likelihood you people -familiar/ plural would have set the table, wouldn't you?)
- Lo más probable era que ustedes hubieran puesto* la mesa, ¿no? (in all likelihood you people -formal/ plural would have set the table, wouldn't you?)
- Lo más probable era que Pedro y María hubieran puesto* la mesa (in all likelihood Pedro and María would have set the table)
Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién era más probable que hubiera puesto la mesa?
*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 poner 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 -er
- The pluperfect tense conjugation/ subjunctive mood is shown below
Subjunctive Mood/ Pluperfect Tense - Conjugation
- SubjectPONER(TO PUT)
IYoHUBIERA o HUBIESE PUESTO YouTúHUBIERAS o HUBIESES PUESTO You Usted*HUBIERA o HUBIESE PUESTO He Él SheElla WeNosotrosHUBIÉRAMOS o HUBIÉSEMOS PUESTO YouVosotros**HUBIERAIS o HUBIESEIS PUESTO YouUstedes***HUBIERAN o HUBIESEN PUESTO 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 pluperfect tense of the irregular verb poner with some examples of your own.
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