Monday, June 18, 2007

¿Subjunctive or conditional?

Hi Karin,

I don't understand why "I would like to say" can be translated as: "Me gustaría* quedarme" (*conditional) and "Quisiera* quedarme" (*subjunctive). The same goes with "I wish I could stay, but...", that can be translated as: "Desearía* poder quedarme, pero..." (*conditional)
and "Quisiera* poder quedarme, pero..." (*subjunctive).



Hi Christina,

As you may know, the conditional can be used to politely make requests or state desires (and sound less blunt). That is the case of "Me gustaría" and "Desearía".

However, when using the verb "querer", the imperfect subjunctive "quisiera" is often used for "I would like" instead of the conditional, whether followed by the subjunctive or not. ("Querría" is generally avoided).

Check this:
Although it may seem grammatically illogical, the imperfect subjunctive form of querer (usually translated in this context as "I would like"), quisiera, is a common, colloquial way of stating wishes and making polite requests. The normal sequence of tenses applies, so when quisiera is followed by a conjugated verb, the following verb must be in an imperfect subjunctive form.

- Karin

1 comment:

Brandon Simpson said...

The reason that "quisiera" can be used as both conditional and subjunctive is a long explanation. Read the following passage from Demystifying Spanish Grammar:

"When you read Old Spanish literature, you will see the imperfect –ra verb forms used in a different way. The –ra forms of the imperfect subjunctive used to be used as the past perfect indicative forms; it didn’t require the verb haber. After its use as the past perfect indicative faded away, it became the conditional. That’s why expressions like Yo quisiera ____ still exist as meaning I’d like ____¬. (In this case you can’t say Yo quisiese ___.). After being used as the conditional, it became the new imperfect subjunctive form. The –se endings were actually the only imperfect endings which is why the –se endings are used in Old Spanish literature and in many formal contexts today."

Brandon Simpson