Friday, 12 February 2016

Tell Me, Who Was Most Likely To Set The Table?

Introduction
Verbo: Poner
Tipo: irregular
Modo: subjuntivo
Tiempo: pretérito imperfecto (imperfect tense)

This post is about verb conjugation -the imperfect tense, subjunctive mood of irregular verb poner.


SCENARIO

Imagine you are talking to relatives, friends or colleagues. You are describing how things used to be at group meals -gatherings which used to take place on a regular basis at someone's house. Speculating about who used to prepare the food, who used to set the table, etcetera, someone says to you: "tell me, who was most likely to set the table?"

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
Dime, ¿quién era más probable que pusiera la mesa?

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


OUR TIP

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 pusiera* la mesa (it was most likely that I set the table)
  • Lo más probable era que tú pusieras* la mesa, ¿no? (it was most likely that you -familiar set the table, wasn't it?)
  • Lo más probable era que usted pusiera* la mesa, ¿no? (it was most likely that you -formal set the table, wasn't it?)
  • Lo más probable era que Pedro pusiera* la mesa (it was most likely that Pedro set the table)
  • Lo más probable era que María pusiera* la mesa (it was most likely that Maria set the table)
  • Lo más probable era que Pedro y yo pusiéramos* la mesa (it was most likely that Pedro and I set the table)
  • Lo más probable era que vosotros pusierais* la mesa, ¿no? (it was most likely that you people -familiar/ plural set the table, wasn't it?)
  • Lo más probable era que ustedes pusieran* la mesa, ¿no? (it was most likely that you people -formal/ plural set the table, wasn't it?)
  • Lo más probable era que Pedro y María pusieran* la mesa (it was most likely that Pedro and María set the table)

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién era más probable que pusiera la mesa?

*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.

Irregular Verbs
Verb: poner
The Spanish verb poner is irregular* in some tenses, as shown in the table below:

Tense
Mood
Regular
Irregular
Present
Indicative

Imperfect
Indicative

Preterite
Indicative

Future
Indicative

Conditional
Indicative

Perfect
Indicative

Pluperfect
Indicative

Future Perfect
Indicative

Conditional Perfect
Indicative

Present
Subjunctive

Imperfect
Subjunctive

Perfect
Subjunctive

Pluperfect
Subjunctive


* NB:
  • Conjugate tenses in the regular column the same as other regular verbs ending in -er
  • The imperfect tense conjugation/ subjunctive mood is shown below

Subjunctive Mood/ Imperfect Tense - Conjugation
    Verb: poner
Subject
PONER
(TO PUT)
I
Yo
PUSIERA o PUSIESE
You
PUSIERAS o PUSIESES
You Usted*

PUSIERA o PUSIESE
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
PUSIÉRAMOS o PUSIÉSEMOS
You
Vosotros**
PUSIARAIS o PUSIESEIS
You
Ustedes***
PUSIERAN o PUSIESEN
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 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.

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 tense of the irregular verb poner with some examples of your own.

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