que sepa (Subjunctive in English)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by germanbz, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. germanbz Senior Member

    Benicàssim - Castelló - Spain
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    Hello everyone and thank you in advance for your time.

    Well, I have a bit problem about a part of a paragraph that I'm translating.

    Here is my original in Spanish:

    ...tiene que haber una persona que cuando se le da un plano, sepa como situar las medidas sobre el terreno en escala real...

    And my attempt:

    ...there has to be one person that, when a plan is given to him, know(s) how to set the measures onto the ground in a real scale...

    My doubt is whether in English and in a sentence like that, subjunctive (without s) is used or directly the common way is the present simple. I've read about uses of subjunctive in English and I'm still a bit confused about the matter.
     
  2. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    This is not subjunctive in English.

    ...when a plan is given to him, knows how to set the measures...

    ______________________________________________________________
    Note
    EDIT - please see post by aztlaniano for a qualification to the following statement

    Even if there were to be a subjunctive using the above template, it would apply only to the verb 'to be'. Example

    It is required that there be one person
    who, when a plan is given to him, knows how to set the measures...
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  3. aztlaniano

    aztlaniano Senior Member

    Lavapiestán, Madrid
    English (Aztlán, US sector)
    It would be (cond.) subjunctive if the beginning of the sentence were (subj.), for example:
    It is essential that at least one person know (subj.) how to ....
    But that's not your case.
    You are in the same boat as a small minority of native English-speakers (all the rest suffer no confusion whatsoever, but only because they are completely unaware of the very existence of the subjunctive).

    Edit -
    I hadn't seen Biffo's addendum to his post. Same idea.
     
  4. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I agree with aztlaniano. Superficially it may seem as though we are giving different answers but in fact we are not.

    It is required that there be one person who knows...

    It is required that at least one person know...

    You can see that verbs immediately after expressions such as "required that" or "essential that" take the subjunctive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  5. aztlaniano

    aztlaniano Senior Member

    Lavapiestán, Madrid
    English (Aztlán, US sector)
    Or "ordered", "demanded", ....
     
  6. germanbz Senior Member

    Benicàssim - Castelló - Spain
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    Thank you everybody. Sometimes some well explained examples worth its weight in gold.
     
  7. Archilochus Senior Member

    New Mexico
    American English
    The wiki page on the Subjunctive in English is not bad. As aztlaniano said, the vast majority English speakers are (happily) unaware of the subjunctive in English.
     
  8. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Here is 99% of what you need to know about the subjunctive in English (at least AmEng):

    Use the subjunctive in the If part of an "If ... would ..." construction. Same thing for "If ... had ... would have ..."

    If I knew how to sing, I would appear on American Idol.
    If I were you, I wouldn't do that.

    If I had known that you were coming, I would have waited for you.
    If I had been there, I would have been very happy.

    This is sometimes referred to as the counterfactual (or contrary to fact) situation. So far as I know, it's the same exact construction in Spanish.

    This construction constitutes 99% of times when you will encounter the subjunctive in English.

    By the way, sometimes "If I had known" is expressed "had I known" and less frequently as "If I were to have known." The latter is a bit stilted in most cases but correct English.

    The other 1% are constructions like the one discussed in this thread (I [verb expressing desire] that [subject] [verb in subjunctive]) and a handful of fixed expressions: Be you friend or be you foe; Long live the king; be that as it may.

    Disclosure: the 99% and 1% figures have not been scientifically determined but are a fair representation of the importance of the counterfactual construction.

    In BrEng, the subjunctive in the counterfactual situation is reportedly disappearing from speech. So statements like "If I was you" are heard. To educated speakers in the US, it sounds uneducated but apparently is educated speech in the UK.
     
  9. donbeto

    donbeto Senior Member

    Vancouver (Canada)
    Eng (Canada)
    Yes, I was a lot happier before learning Spanish and hearing the "S" word - for the first time!:eek: Ignorance is bliss!
     
  10. ramelot80 Senior Member

    València
    Español Spanish
    I completely agree!!;)
     
  11. ramelot80 Senior Member

    València
    Español Spanish
    Hola German, me ha llamado la atención tu post.
    Hace mucho tiempo que estoy intentando averiguar cómo funciona el subjuntivo en inglés y aunque he aprendido (no por los libros ni por mis maestros de inglés) más o menos el funcionamiento, mi consejo (el cual recibí en este foro) es que trates de evitarlo siempre que puedas ya que no se usa en inglés como en castellano.

    Aquí va mi humilde traducción:

    There must be someone able to set the measures onto the ground in a real scale when a map/plan is given to him.

    Que tingues sort desxifrant el subjunctiu, es un galimaties!!! :D
     
  12. FromPA

    FromPA Senior Member

    Philadelphia area
    USA English
    "set the measures onto the ground" - question for a separate post?
     
  13. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Here is my suggestion:

    There must be someone who, when you give him a map, knows how to lay out the actual measurements on the ground.

    English does not use the subjunctive when referring to persons who might or might not exist. See my post on the 99% rule. Post #8.

    measures :cross:

    onto :cross:

    There are several other terms you could use for map here: "plan" or "drawing," for example. In the construction business, contractors build structures based on what lay people call "plans" but which architects and contractors more precisely call "drawings and specifications." So in that context, drawing refers to the architect's drawing, not to an artistic drawing. And you could also use "blueprint" here (architects' drawings used to be printed on blue paper, and blueprint is a standard term for such drawings even if no longer printed on blue paper).

    If the measurements are laid out on the ground, it's probably based on a survey map, and so here I would use map.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  14. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Wait, you're a native speaker. The subjunctive in Spanish comes naturally to native speakers of Spanish, doesn't it?
     
  15. ramelot80 Senior Member

    València
    Español Spanish
    What I completely agree is what you write about the ignorance, certenly it is a bliss.:D
     

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