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Using the Subjunctive


Using the Subjunctive Noun Clauses The subjunctive tends to be a somewhat difficult concept for native speakers of English, yet it is used in Spanish all the time. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Using the Subjunctive

Using the Subjunctive
  • Noun Clauses

  • The subjunctive tends to be a somewhat
    difficult concept for native speakers of English,
    yet it is used in Spanish all the time. For that
    reason, we tend to spend a lot of time teaching
    it once students reach the 2000 level. In fact,
    in some textbooks, the principal grammar lessons
    in the last third of the book involve the

  • So what IS the subjunctive? Its a mood. Verbs
    have moods. There are three to choose
    fromsubjunctive, indicative, and imperative.
  • Commands are the imperative mood.
  • Most other verbs are indicative. The very first
    tense you learned was present indicative. Then
    you learned preterit indicative and then
    imperfect indicative. If youve done the
    Subjunctive Formation slide show, youve
    learned the present subjunctive if not, thats
    where youre headed next. Mood does not mean
    tense. You can have present subjunctive or
    present indicative or present imperative.
  • Tense means time. In fact, the Spanish word
    for tense is tiempowhich is also the word for
    time. Mood has to do with the way an action
    is viewed and doesnt have anything to do with
    time. 99 of the time, the subjunctive is used
    in a dependent clause, not the main clause. But
    what happens in the main clause can make the
    subjunctive necessary in the dependent clause.

  • We have a few examples of the subjunctive in
  • If I were you, Id study more.
  • This is called a contrary-to-fact clause. Im
    NOT you, so if I were you is contrary to fact.
    Were is subjunctive. Normally, we say I was,
    not I were I was a student at UGA.
  • If a meeting is over, to end it formally,
    someone says, I move that the meeting be
    adjourned. Be is subjunctive. Normally, we
    dont say, The meeting be adjourned. Here we
    use subjunctive because the person in the main
    clause is trying to get an action in the
    dependent clause accomplished. This is similar
    to one of the ways the subjunctive is used in

  • Before we get into when we need the subjunctive
    in Spanish, lets do a brief review of clauses in
    English. Clause is a group of words with a
    subject and a verb. An independent clause can
    stand alone its a sentence
  • Juan lives here.
  • A dependent clause cannot stand alone it
    is dependent on another clause
  • Juan lives here because it is close to campus.
  • Because it is too close to campus cannot
    stand alone as a sentence. It is dependent on
    Juan lives here. Because is a subordinating
    conjunction it is the word that links the
    dependent and independent clauses.

  • A clause can function in one of three ways it
    can be a noun clause, an adjective clause, or an
    adverb clause
  • I know that he is here.
  • In this sentence, the clause functions as a
    noun. Consider the fact that you could say I
    know the truth. There, the word truth is the
    direct object. In this sentence, that he is
    here is the direct object.

  • Look at this sentence
  • Juan knows the man that lives here.
  • In this sentence, that lives here is an
    adjective clause. It modifies man, tells WHICH

  • Now look at this sentence
  • Juan lives here because its close to campus.
  • Remember that adverbs answer when, where, why,
    how, to what extent. Because its close to
    campus is an adverb clause because it answers
    the question why.

  • In this presentation, well be dealing with noun
    clauses only. In Spanish, noun clauses almost
    always begin with que or quien, and 9 times
    out of 10or moreits que. While dealing with
    the subjunctive in these slide shows, were going
    to deal only with noun clauses that begin with
    que, so remember if theres no que, you
    dont have a noun clause.

  • There are four reasons to use the subjunctive
  • 1. If the person in the main clause is trying to
    get the person in the dependent clause to do
    something or is trying to keep him from doing
    something, you need the subjunctive in the
    dependent clause (after the que)
  • He suggests that you eat. -- Sugiere que comas.
  • He recommends that you eat. Recomienda que
  • Theres a difference between the way this idea
    is usually expressed in English and Spanish. The
    two sentences above are pretty much the same in
    the two languages, although you have to remember
    to use the subjunctive in Spanish. However . . .

  • . . . in most sentences where one person is
    trying do get another to do something, the
    sentence structures are different
  • He wants you to eat. Quiere que comas.
  • Literally, He wants that you eat.
  • He asks you to eat. Te pide que comas.
  • Literally, He asks that you eat.
  • He prohibits you from eating. Prohíbe que
  • Literally, He prohibits that you eat.
  • He permits you to eat. Permite que comas.
  • Literally, He permits that you eat.
  • What you need to see here is that one person is
    trying to get another person to do (or not do)
    something. It actually makes more sense in
    Spanish than in English. Whats the direct
    object in He wants you to eat? You? Nohe
    doesnt want YOU. To eat? Nohe doesnt want
    TO EAT. He is doing the wanting, and you are
    doing the eating, so both verbs are conjugated in

  • 2. If theres emotion in the main clause, you
    need the subjunctive in the dependent clause.
  • Juan is glad that you eat. Juan se alegra de
    que comas.
  • Juan is afraid that you eat. Juan tiene miedo
    de que comas.
  • Juan likes that you eat. -- A Juan le gusta que
  • It surprises Juan that you eat. A Juan le
    sorprende que comas.
  • Important note
  • You MUST have que in all the clauses. It
    surprises Juan THAT you eat, It surprises Juan
    IF you eat, and It surprises Juan BECAUSE you
    eat may sound like they mean the same thing, but
    the structures are different. That you eat is
    a noun clause IF you eat and BECAUSE you eat
    are adverb clauses, and they follow an entirely
    different set of rules concerning the
    subjunctive. Si NEVER gets the present
    subjunctive, no matter whats in the indicative
    clause, and porque rarely gets the subjunctive.

  • 3. If doubt or denial is expressed in the main
    clause, you need the subjunctive in the
    dependent clause.
  • Juan doubts that you eat. Juan duda que comas.
  • Juan denies that you eat. Juan niega que
  • Juan doesnt believe that you eat. Juan no
    cree que comas.
  • It isnt certain that you eat. No es cierto
    que comas.
  • It isnt true that you eat. No es verdad que
  • It is doubtful that you eat. Es dudoso que
  • Conversely, if you take away doubt (express
    certainty or belief), you use the indicative. So
    if you say the opposite of each of the above
    sentences, you use the indicative in the
    dependent clause.
  • Juan doesnt doubt that you eat. Juan no duda
    que comes.
  • Juan doesnt deny that you eat. Juan no niega
    que comes.
  • Juan believes that you eat. Juan cree que
  • It is certain that you eat. Es cierto que
  • It is true that you eat. Es verdad que comes.
  • It isnt doubtful that you eat. No es dudoso
    que comes.

  • 4. When you have (no) es adjective que, you
    need the subjunctive after the que.
  • Its (not) necessary that you eat. (No) Es
    necesario que comas.
  • Its (not) important that you eat. (No) Es
    importante que comas.
  • Its (not) good that you eat. (No) Es bueno que
  • Its (not) possible that you eat. (No) Es
    posible que comas.
  • Theres an important exception to this rule.
    Remember rule 3, where you use subjunctive if
    you have doubt or denial and indicative if you
    express certainty or belief? Well, if your es
    adjective que expresses certainty or belief,
    you use indicative
  • Its certain that you eat. Es cierto que comes.
  • Its true that you eat. Es verdad que comes.
  • It isnt doubtful that you eat. No es dudoso
    que comes.

  • Click here to go to a practice exercise.