Spanish Subjunctive Help 8 Using it with SI

Spanish Subjunctive Help.possible

This is the last in the 8 podcast series on the Spanish Present Subjunctive. In this podcast we deal with the very strange way that Spanish behaves when faced with the word SI=IF.

Everything that Glitters.

This word IF is a classic example of how you can’t just use the idea that the subjunctive is all about uncertain futures. Were that the case than to start a sentence with if would be a dead certainty to have subjunctive in it.

And yet that’s not the case!

The SI non-subjunctive and the Si Imperfect Subjunctive.

Firstly, let us be absolutely clear what we are dealing with here. We must keep the kind of sentence we are focussing on separate from the other kind that also starts with IF and yet needs the imperfect subjunctive.

Here is an example of each one:

1, If you want we can eat in the dining room. (Non-subjunctive)

Si quieres podemos comer en el comedor.

2, If you wanted we could eat in the dining room. (Imperfect Subjunctive)

Si quisieras podríamos comer en el comedor.

How to easily identify them.

Despite what it may seem, these two sentences are easy to identify. All you have to do is to notice the verb that follows SI/IF.

Look at the examples. In number 1, the word is WANT which is present tense indicative In English, when you make your sentence and the verb that follows the IF is in present tense, then you DO NOT need to use anything except the present in Spanish.

In number two, the verb is in the past (Wanted) which is strange because if you think about it we are actually talking about a possible future event. This is your alarm bell that helps you realise that this is actually the English Imperfect Subjunctive.  When you see  this happen you must use the Spanish Imperfect Subjunctive.

Test your skills.

Look at the following sentences and see if you can tell if they need the Imp Subjunctive or just normal present tense.

1, If they come at six we’ll be finished by nine.

2, If you could come a little earlier we would be done by nine.

3, They would look better if they were in the hall.

4, If you tell me the name I’ll look for it on Google.

5, If I gave you a pound what would you do with it?

6, If they don’t call, what will you do?


The answers are just below.

So, now you should be able to identify the two kinds of IF statements in Spanish and English. It’s important to follow up this podcast with the next one which covers the use of the Imperfect Subjunctive and offers more Spanish Subjunctive Help.

Don’t worry, if you’ve learnt the Present Subjunctive you already know 90 percent of the Imperfect Subjunctive.

Also, you can check out our podcast where we force, unnaturally, a lot of Present Subjunctive into our conversation. jeje

Hasta la próxima vez,

Gordon 🙂

1, PT  2, IS  3, IS  4, PT  5, IS  6, PT

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