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The Subjunctive Mood in Noun Clauses
Introduction: the subjunctive mood. Presumably, up until now you have been using primarily the indicative mood. The indicative (modo indicativo) in both English and Spanish is used to indicate facts or states of being in the “real world”, and to ask questions:
In contrast to the indicative, the subjunctive mood (modo subjuntivo) is very rarely used as the main verb of a sentence; it is used primarily in dependent (“subjoined”) clauses and to express a subjective view or the negation or the anticipation of an action or state. In the case of a subjective view, the action or state may in fact exist in reality; the emphasis, however, is on the reaction of the speaker. We can find some examples of situations where we use the subjunctive both in Spanish and in English; in the English translations note that the third person singular form does not end in the usual -s:
*Note that the normal forms are “she comes”and “he is”.
Unfortunately —at least for purposes of transferring our knowledge of English grammar to Spanish— modern English uses the subjunctive very little. In Spanish it is used constantly, both in conversational and literary form, and you must be able to use it where appropriate.
Introduction: noun clauses. A clause is a group of words that expresses an idea and contains a subject and a conjugated or “finite” verb (in contrast to an “infinite” or non-conjugated form such as the infinitive). A sentence will have one or more main clauses, and may have one or more dependent clauses or none at all.
For purposes of this section on the subjunctive, noun clauses are dependent clauses which serve as the direct object or predicate complement of another verb (or as the subject of a verb), just as a noun can do. Please note that English frequently employs an infinitive in these cases, whereas Spanish frequently requires a conjugated verb.
In the above example involving a dependent clause —“I want that you buy the book”— please note that:
· The governing verb (the verb which governs the dependent clause) is “want / querer” and that it expresses influence.
· The subject of the governing verb is “I / yo”.
· The subject of the dependent clause is “you / tú”, different from the subject of the main verb (“I / yo”).
· The verb in the dependent noun clause is “buy / compres”; however, the clause does not express a fact such as “you are buying the book” but rather that it is my desire “that you might buy the book”.
In contrast: The infinitive is normally used when there is no change in subject (I want to leave = Quiero salir), and the indicative mood is used when the governing verb expresses knowledge (to know) certainty (to be certain / sure), truth (to be true / the truth), affirmation (to believe, think, affirm, assert, declare), or reporting (to say, indicate [when not used as a verb of influence], report).
Subjunctive or Indicative in Spanish Noun Clauses?
The subjunctive is going to WIDEN your paths, allowing you to view the world from different points of view. In noun clauses, the subjunctive will be used when there is a change of subject and when the governing verb expresses Willing, Influence, Doubt, Emotion or Negation.
In contrast, the indicative might be said to CART you along the normal path of reality, and will be used in noun clauses which are governed by verbs of Certainty, Affirmation, Reporting, and Truth.
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