me alegra saber + subj. or ind.

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by kayokid, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
    Hello.

    As far as I understand it, the subjunctive is used after 'me alegra que,' as in:

    Ex. Me alegra que estés estudiando español.

    But what happens when you have an intervening infinitive, say 'saber,' in the sentence? Anything?

    Ex. Me alegra saber que estás/estés estudiando español. (??)

    Many thanks for any opinions.
     
  2. pricklyanana Junior Member

    Madrid
    Español, España
    You would say "estás", I can just can not really explain why but "estés" doesn't sound right. So, yes, if you have an intervening verb you should use the indicative.
    Ex. Me gustaría pensar que estas estudiando/ estudias español
    Me encanta saber que estudias español
     
  3. Momu Junior Member

    USA
    Spain, Spanish
    I think it's because "estar" isn't modified by "me alegra que" any more, now it's modified by "saber", which goes with certainty and the indicative. Otherwise it wouldn't be "saber", right? (We'd better leave that discussion to a philosophy forum, though...)
     
  4. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
    Many thanks to both of you for your replies.
     
  5. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Each verb governs only the next following one.
    If you said "I'm glad you know that she is well," it would be
    "Me alegra que sepas que está bien." "Alegrar" calls for the subjunctive (with this change of subject), and "saber" calls for the indicative.
    Now say "I know you are glad that she is well":
    "Sé que te alegra que esté bien."
     
  6. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    I keep looking at "estás/estés" and both look ok to me. This is one of those occasions where the choice of one mood or the other simply reflects the attitude of the speaker, and the attitude of the speaker is also a reflection of the inherent meaning of each mood. The indicative is by nature objective and therefore factual; in that case, the indicative underscores the meaning carried by "saber". In other words, it's "known" that you are here, and "estás" reflects that reality. The subjunctive is subjective, and so it underscores the emotional meaning conveyed by "me alegra". With "estés," the focus is placed on the subjectivity of "me alegra" rather than on the factuality of "saber".
    Cheers
     
  7. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
    Okay, I'll re-post what I deleted above...

    1. Es importante que vayan a la fiesta. (subj. because of all the normal rules)
    2. Niega que vayan a la fiesta. (subj. because of all the normal rules)
    3. Es importante negar que van/vayan a la fiesta. (Here we have a intervening infinitive which shows doubt [see sentence #2] and requires the subjunctive because of all the normal rules... and yet the indicative seems to be the mood of choice.)

    Still, I remember seeing, saying, learning, etc. sentences such as: Es muy importante decirle (a ella) que (ellos) van a ir a la fiesta.
    Thus my conclusion that with any intervening infinitive the indicative is correct.
     
  8. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    I completely agree with SevenDays' comment. The use of the subjunctive in your original sentence is called "inducción del modo verbal a distancia", meaning that a non contiguous element induces a verbal mood that is not really "expected".

    The reason why this happens, is exactly what SevenDays describes.
    I don't know if this is true. From where do you deduce this? I'd definitely use the subjunctive here.
     
  9. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
    Hello Peter.

    The subjunctive is what I would have chosen but I was told that the indicative was correct.
    What is it that makes you want the subjunctive here? The impersonal phrase (es importante) or the intervening verb (negar)? Or both?

    What about in this sentence: Me alegra saber que estás/estés estudiando español. Here we have the 'me alegra' and an intervening verb which shows/implies, etc. certainty. It seems that of the two forces at work the 'certainty' won out -- at least in the native Spanish speaker's mind -- and led to my and their conclusion/deduction that the indicative was the correct form.
     
  10. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    I'd use the subjunctive because of "negar". The first part ("es importante que") does not intervene here.

    This is different: as SevenDays pointed out, both are possible: the indicative if you follow the strict syntactical logic; the subjunctive if you use the "emotional" logic (if at all you can talk about "logic" in this case:)). Actually, what happens when you use the subjunctive in this case is that the speaker kind of "forgets" that "saber" is in between and as such, considers the subjunctive inducing expression "es importante" more important in his mind than the presence of "saber".
     
  11. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Hello, Kayokid and everyone.

    Grammar explanations have already been given. I'll talk about my use. As to the original sentence:

    Me alegra saber que estás estudiando español. The subjunctive estés does not sound good to me.

    But of course: Me alegra que estés estudiando español.

    Un saludo.
     
  12. L'Inconnu Senior Member

    US
    English
    GREAT. You have just found a way to avoid using the subjunctive! I'll keep in this in mind.
     
  13. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    kayokid, wait till the snow is gone... (says duvija, now in Montevideo). You really got fantastic explanations. Not easy to digest, but you will be able to have a better idea.
     
  14. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    As in post #11, the sentence with subjunctive (... saber que estés ...) doesn't sound right to me.
     
  15. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
    Many thanks to all those who responded and for all opinions expressed.
     
  16. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Sorry, Kayokid, but this is not okay to me, not yet.;)
    Hello, JMartins. I completely agree. It sounds wrong to me.

    I wonder if other speakers use it so far, nobody has actually said that they actually use it on a regular basis. It would be interesting to know where it's actually used, especially in colloquial spoken language. I've never heard that in Spain.

    Of course, I respect all points of view expressed in the thread. But, Peter (and other foreros): do you know if there's something in the NGLE about this construction in particular (not just general info), please?
     
  17. L'Inconnu Senior Member

    US
    English
    Now THIS is surprising. But still very useful if it turns out to be true.
     
  18. Lurrezko

    Lurrezko Senior Member

    Junto al mar
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    Sólo por añadir otra opinión: a mí me suena francamente mal el subjuntivo, aunque ya se sabe que podría haber diferencias regionales. Cualquier ejemplo mental que me pongo suena mal:

    Me alegra saber que vengas.
    Me alegra saber que te mejores de tu enfermedad.
    Me alegra saber que tengas lo que buscabas.

    Un saludo
     
  19. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
  20. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Hola Blasita,

    Not exactly with "saber" as intervening verb but with similar verbs; See e.g. the NGLEem:
    In the NGLEec, this subject is treated from 25.8d on (but that's too much work to copy:cool:)
     
  21. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Um, okay, thank you, Peter.

    I'm afraid that to me that quote does not make it clear that the subjunctive is correct (according to the RAE) in the original sentence. The example given No es aventurado suponer que + subjunctive sounds good to me. I think it might depend on the verb and the particular construction. Now, it must be just me.

    I'll have a look at that section as soon as I can. Thanks again.
     
  22. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    You are right; it doesn't prove that it is correct, but it certainly confirms Sevendays' comment about the possible use of the subjunctive in this case.

    Personally, just like you, I wouldn't use a subjunctive in this case but I also have to admit that it is not uncommon to see similar cases in literature. I can't say I have seen it with "saber" as intermediate verb (I just don't remember the concrete cases) but I'm sure I have seen similar cases where I would definitely have chosen an indicative (and then, of course I want to know why:D and I went looking it up; that's why it was relatively easy for me to find it back in the NGLE).

    PS. What do you mean with "Um":D?

    EDIT: I suddenly remembered another thread with a similar question/construction.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  23. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Hello again, Peter.

    I always enjoy reading Seven's comments and learn from them. I think what he says is grammatically reasonable (a question of semantics). But I was also trying to find a clear and definite reference in the NGLE.

    Never say never, but in this case I can say I would never use the subjunctive in Me alegra saber/ver, etc. que ..., and that it sounds incorrect. There will probably be just a question of regional differences. Six foreros have stated in this thread that they would not use estés. So, who actually uses the subjunctive in that sentence, please? Let's wait for some more replies.

    PS
    Exactly this ...:)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  24. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Let's see if I can be a little more precise
    In me alegra saber que estás estudiando español, we have a clause (que estás estudiando español) that functions as the direct object of transitive "saber." The expectation is that, because the main verb is in the affirmative, "estás" should be in the indicative. The reason is that we are asserting something that is true, and therefore factual; there is no room for the irreality sense of the subjunctive. Put another way, the verb in the subordinated clause goes in the mood that such verb would have if it stood in an independent structure: estás estudiando español ~ me alegra saber que estás estudiando español. Learners of Spanish may wish to stop here, because this is all really straightforward.

    And yet....
    If the subjunctive appears where it isn't expected to be, if it goes against the norm, taking the place of the indicative, then what imposes the subjunctive is simply the attitude of the speaker. We can't forget that moods come from within; they reflect our perception of the world, and sometimes that perception doesn't match the world as it is. The semantic effect of the subjunctive in me alegra saber que estés estudiando español is that it presents "saber" as something known to both the speaker and the listener; the meaning of "saber" takes a back seat, so to speak, and what is underscored is the emotion conveyed by "me alegra." If I run into John at the supermarket, saying "esté" means I know he is studying Spanish but he is not studying Spanish at that particular moment. Similarly, to me, "me alegra saber que Pep Guardiola sea el nuevo entrenador del Bayern Munich" sounds perfectly ok; what's conveyed here is not that he is the new coach of Bayern Munich (we soccer/football fans know that) but that I'm happy about it. It could be that this is true of "ser" and "estar" because these are copulative verbs (ser, a true copulative; estar, not really, but we tend to think of it as copulative nonetheless), and largely devoid of lexical meaning, though they do have a sense of "existence" when they are not used as linking verbs. The subjunctive in DO of "saber" seems to be blocked with verbs that have strong lexical meaning, and so the examples by Lurrezko in post #18 don't sound natural at all. And yet, this, said in irony, wouldn't seem bad to me: claro, me alegra saber que tenga tanto tiempo para jugar a la pelota y no para estudiar el subjuntivo. I might consider this "tenga" colloquial, whereas I would consider "estés" and "sea" above quite idiomatic.

    Cheers
     
  25. Lurrezko

    Lurrezko Senior Member

    Junto al mar
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    Ah, puñetero, pero tu ejemplo de Guardiola no me suena mal. Dadme un buen ejemplo y moveré el mundo. Así no hay manera de tener una opinión sólida e inamovible, hombre.:)

    Un saludo
     
  26. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Your example with sea sounds idiomatic to me too. Chapeau, Seven!:)

    Going back to the original sentence and taking estés, if someone told me Me alegra saber que estés mejor, I'd think that the speaker is thinking that I'm not better and lying for a reason:

    ¿Cómo estás?
    Estoy mejor, de verdad.
    Me alegra saber que estés mejor.
    :confused: (=Tú dices que estás bien, pero yo sé/intuyo que no). So, it definitely sounds ironic to me. Anyway, estés does not sound idiomatic to me in this case at all.

    If, while I was in hospital, somebody had visited me and said Me alegra ver que estés mejor :confused:, well, I wouldn't have taken it so well ...

    I still wonder why the original sentence sounds so weird or unusual to most speakers who contributed to this thread. I can't actually pinpoint the reason for it. Any thoughts? It's not then a question of regional differences? By the way, it's a pity that so far, we only have Spanish (of Spain) speakers talking about their usage.

    A personal recommendation to non-native speakers: use the indicative in these cases, especially in exams. You will always get it right.
     
  27. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Vale, entonces Pep me salva la vida en este hilo; aquí va otra, que también me suena bien: me alegra saber que hayas entendido el subjuntivo. Si tengo razón al decir que "saber" admite "ser" por el hecho de que éste es puramente copulativo (sin significado léxico más alla de existencia), entonces no debería sorprender que "saber" también sea compatible con "estar", "tener" y "haber", pues todos estos verbos tienen mucho en común semánticamente con "ser". Por ende, traducimos estos verbos con "to be": tiene hambre ~ he is hungry; hay cuatro libros ~ there are four books; está triste ~ he is sad; es mi hermano; he is my brother). Dándome una vuelta por internet, me encontré con este libro (aquí) que habla de "muchas similitudes" en la trayectoria diacrónica de estos verbos, y quizás por eso sea que, a mi entender, puedan aparecer en el contexto de "saber". Pero no quiero ser majadero; el uso del subjuntivo en este contexto es más bien una excepcion muy restringida (quizás con "ser" y "haber" más que con "tener" y "estar"), por lo que, en un exámen, usaría el indicativo para evitar una discusión tan semántica.

    Saludos
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  28. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Seven, yo ya había pensado en algunos ejemplos con varios tiempos verbales; el que comentas, hayas entendido en tu ejemplo, sí que funciona para mí (como en otros contextos en el pasado). Pero ¿qué razón crees que hay para que, por ejemplo, ese estés no suene nada bien a otros hispanohablantes como yo?

    ¿Hay alguien que pueda opinar sobre lo que yo he dicho y el ejemplo que he dado? Gracias.
     
  29. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Hola
    Mi mensaje anterior se me fue sin haberlo terminado (no tengo idea que botón apreté, qué hice, para que se fuera así, tan repentinamente). Parece que hay algo en el valor semántico histórico de ser, estar, haber y tener (según ese enlance) que los permite aparecer en ciertos contextos muy restringidos (como en nuestro ejemplo de "me alegra saber", ya que el uso del subjuntivo siempre depende del hablante) y no en otros, donde estos verbos ya tiene un significado léxico muy definido con el indicativo. Pero, entiendo perfectamente que no te suene nadie bien el subjuntivo en este contexto.
    Saludos
     
  30. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Okay, Seven. Thanks a lot. You're just great.

    Hope this is now clear to Kayokid and other non-native speakers too.:)
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  31. kayokid

    kayokid Senior Member

    Chicago
    English, USA
    Hello. Well, you all have made a believer out of me. Previous to this time, I had never seen an example of the subjunctive following the structure I originally proposed. Now I see that, indeed, it is possible. This has been a very enlightening thread and I am deeply indebted to all for your comments and support. This is something that is not found in textbooks...

    Kayokid
     
  32. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Me alegra saber que hayas sacado ese premio
    (I'm at a place with very spotty internet connection. Can you hear the ocean thru the computer?)
    well, this message won't get thru anyway...
     
  33. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    Hi,
    My two cents:

    Me alegra saber que estás estudiando español. = Me alegra que yo sepa que estás estudiando español. <—I'm not saying you should use “que yo sepa” here. It's just for clarification purposes.

    “Saber” is the verb of a subordinate clause of which the subject is the same of the main sentence, and it introduces it's own subordiante clause. You need "estás" in indicative as the subordinate verb of “saber (=que yo sepa).” All subordinate sentences introduced by “saber” come in indicative mood (“estás”) because of the meaning of this verb.

    As the action causing an emotional impression is the subordinate “saber”, this verb should come in subjunctive if its subject were other else than the same of the main sentence.

    Another example: “Me alegra que sepas lo que tienes que hacer.

    Saludos,
    ;)
     

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