Imperfect subjunctive past tense: when to use?

O past tense imperfect of subjunctiveis a tense with different functions in the Spanish language. Can be used to express actions of hypothetical or uncertain realization in the past, present or future in relation to the moment in which one speaks, in courtesy, exclamatory phrases and in prayers reduplicatives.

It is also the single tense with two endings: -ha (hablara, eat, live) what if (hablase, comiese, viviese). Adoption in one form or another depends on the country or region. According to the Real Academia Española, there is a preference for the ending -ranas Américas, although there are records of -sin the written language. In turn, European Spanish freely alternates the two forms.

For Portuguese speakers, learning this verb tense can generate a bit of confusion, as the ending -ra resembles the more than perfect past tense of the Portuguese indicative (cantara). As we will see later, these two tenses are correlated, but the translation is not equivalent.

Read too: Subjunctive present in Spanish

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Summary of past tense imperfect of subjunctive

  • The past tense imperfect of subjunctive has two endings: -ra (hablara) what if (hablase).

  • It is used to express actions of hypothetical or uncertain realization in the past, present or future. in relation to the moment in which one speaks, in polite and exclamatory phrases and in prayers reduplicatives.

  • It should not be confused with the more-than-perfect past tense of the Portuguese language code.

Regular and irregular verbs

To form the past tense imperfect of subjunctive, we can follow a simple rule: we take the 3The plural person of indefinite past tenseindicatively (hellos) — both regular and irregular — and we exchange the ending -ron for the past tense endings subjunctive imperfect, which are the same for all verbs. That means that every irregular verb in indefinite past tense it will also be in the subjunctive imperfect.

We will conjugate, as examples of regular verbs, love, eat and move up:

PRONOMBRE

LOVE

EAT

MOVE UP

yo

lovefrog / loveif

withwow / withiesis

subwow / subiesis

you / you

loveat / loveifs

withdays / withyeses

subdays / subyeses

he / she / usted

lovefrog / loveif

withwow / withiesis

subwow / subiesis

nosotras

amárloves / amásemos

withiébranches / withiéwithout the

subiébranches / subiéwithout the

you

loverais / lovesix

withgenerals / withyesis

subgenerals / subyesis

ellos / ellas / ustedes

loveran / lovesen

withiran / withyesen

subiran / subyesen


OJO!

  • TO 1The and at 3The singular person have the same shape.

  • The endings of 2The and 3The conjugations are the same.

  • The verbs in 1The plural person (nosotras) are proparoxytone words (spooks) and are therefore accentuated.

Now let's look at some examples of irregular verbs. Let's start with the verbs to be and go, which have the same shape. at 3The person of the plural of the indefinite past tense, its conjugation is fueron. We removed the -ronfinal and added the endings of the subjunctive imperfect:

PRONOMBRE

BE / GO

yo

fuera / fuese

you / you

fueras / fueses

he / she / usted

fuera / fuese

nosotras

fuéramos / fuésemos

you

Fuerals/Fuels

ellos / ellas / ustedes

fueran / fuesen

  • Verbs with own irregularity

Here, we present a list with the roots of the most common irregular verbs in Spanish:

know — sup

power — pud

poner — pus

haber — hub

fit — cup

tener — tuv

be — study

walk — anduv

decide — say

to bring — costume

want - wanted

come — come

do — hic

conduct — conduct

PRONOMBRE

FLOOR

TENER

DECIDE

yo

Anduviera / Anduviese

tuviera / tuviese

dijera / dijese

you / you

Anduvieras / Anduviese

tuvieras / tuvies

dijeras / dijeses

he / she / usted

Anduviera / Anduviese

tuviera / tuviese

dijera / dijese

nosotras

anduviéramos / anduviésemos

tuviéramos / tuviésemos

dijéramos / dijésemos

you

anduvierais / anduvieseis

tuvierais / tuvieseis

dijerais / dijeseis

ellos / ellas / ustedes

Anduvieran / Anduviesen

tuvieran / tuviesen

dijeran / dijesen


OJO! The verbs decide — and its variants (predeceive) —, to bring (bring) and those ending in -ducir lose the vowel -i- of the ending.

  • Verbs with vowel change

There can be three types of vowel change:

  • o > u: to die, to sleep;

  • and > i: ask, feel, mourn;

  • verbs with two vowels in a row — the second vowel is converted to -y-: read, huir (to run away), hi (hear), believe (believe, believe).

PRONOMBRE

TO SLEEP

TO SENSE

READ

yo

sleep / sleep

sintiera / sintiese

leyera / leyese

you / you

sleepers / sleepers

sintieras / syntieses

leyeras / leyeses

he / she / usted

sleep / sleep

sintiera / sintiese

leyera / leyese

nosotras

sleep / sleep

syntiéramos / syntiésemos

leyéramos / leyésemos

you

sleeper / sleeper

synthetic / synthetic

leyerais / leyeseis

ellos / ellas / ustedes

durmieran / durmiesen

sintieran / sintiesen

leyeran / leyesen

Uses of pastsubjunctive imperfect

a) Express past, present or future actions of uncertain or hypothetical realization in relation to the moment of speech:

Yes it is play la loteria, would buy me a yacht.
(If I win in the lottery, I would buy a yacht.)

I wish that hubiesen come to visit me.
(I wanted who had come to visit me.)

I would love that futures a mi fiesta de cumpleaños.
(I would love you was to my birthday party.)

b) Courtesy sentences. In these sentences, the translation is made with the imperfect tense of the indicative or with the future of the past tense in Portuguese:

I wish see some pants.
(I wanted see some pants.)

pudiera accompany your home.
(Me could accompany her / you to her house.)

c) Exclamatory or desiderative phrases - those that express wishes or desires:

Hello pudiera Get home early today
(who me gave get home early today!)

¡you will come como sing bien mi hermana!
(If you saw how well my sister sings!)

d) Reduplicative clauses - those that repeat the verb in order to emphasize the expressed action:

Where do you go, We would accompany you.
(wherever you went, we would accompany you.)

They said what they said, she would leave that country.
(No matter what they said / No matter what they said, she would leave that country.)

Important notes

a) We must not confuse the past tense imperfect of subjunctive (will love) with the more-than-perfect past tense of the Portuguese language (amara). Although they coincide in structure, the uses and translations are completely different. Watch:

If el loved me, he would be here with me. — Spanish
(If he loved me, he would be here with me.) —English

He had loved her with all his strength. - Portuguese
She had been loved with all his strengths. - Spanish

b) The form -ra proceeds from the pluscuamperfecto from the Latin indicative: loved > loved. In turn, the form comes from the pluscuamperfecto from the Latin subjunctive: love > love. These forms are equivalent, except in the following cases:

  • When verbs ending in -ra alternate with non-conditional verbs:

This is a film that doesn't I would like / I would like lose me.
(This is a movie I didn't want to miss.)

This is a film that doesn't kinesis* lose me.
(nonexistent phrase in Spanish)

  • In courtesy phrases:

Wanted / Wanted hablar con ustedes.
(I wanted to talk to you.)

wanted* hablar con ustedes.
(nonexistent phrase in Spanish)

  • In situations where the form -ra is equivalent to pluscuamperfecto of callsign.

Let's talk about el mate, that fuera (had been) the traditional drink of the guaraníes.
(Let's talk about the mate, which was / had been the traditional drink of the guaraníes.)

Let's talk about el mate, that fuese* the traditional drink of the guaraníes.
(nonexistent phrase in Spanish)

Read too: Defective verbs in Spanish

Exercises solved on past tense imperfect of subjunctive

question 1

Complete the sentences with the imperfect past tense of the subjunctive of the verbs in parentheses.

a) If __________ (tener, nosotros) time, we could go to the cinema on Saturday.

b) If __________ (power, you), we would order the workshop.

c) Ojalá _________ (be) Sunday, yo would go to the shopping center.

d) Alejandra did not want Miguel la __________ (llamar, ella).

e) Good afternoon, ___________ (want, yo) try on the dress of the showcase.

Response

a) tuviéramos / tuviésemos

b) pudieras / pudieses

c) fuera / fuese

d) llamara / llamase

e) wanted. (As this is a courtesy formula, it is not possible to alternate with the form kiess.)

question 2

(Unievangelical 2018)

Wall where it reads: “Ojalá if you had escaped un ‘te extraño’”.

Available in:. Accessed on: 17 Aug. 2017.

The phrase from the Argentinean movement Acción Poética, painted on a city wall, highlights

a) a duda

b) one row

c) a wish

d) a protest

Response

the interjection hello is used with the subjunctive imperfect in desiderative phrases, that is, expressing desires or wishes. So the correct answer is the letter C.

By Renata Martins Gornattes
Spanish teacher

Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/espanhol/preterito-imperfecto-de-subjuntivo.htm

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Imperfect subjunctive past tense: when to use?

Imperfect subjunctive past tense: when to use?

O past tense imperfect of subjunctiveis a tense with different functions in the Spanish language....

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