I thought it would be easier if I spoke to you in person

chicairlandés

New Member
English
This is a sentence structure I noticed I use in English, I'm not even sure if it is grammatically correct in English but I am wondering if it translates directly in Spanish or if it is different. The structure goes past tense, conditional, if, past tense. It is something I would say when explaining why I did something, for example, if I went to someone's house instead of calling them and they said 'why are you here?', I would say 'I thought it would be easier if I spoke to you in person'. Is there an equivalent to this in Spanish?
 
  • Ferrol

    Senior Member
    Spanish.España
    Completamente equivalente, salvo el uso del subjuntivo en español para el tercer verbo


    Pensé que sería más fácil si hablara contigo en persona
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    This is a sentence structure I noticed I use in English, I'm not even sure if it is grammatically correct in English... I would say 'I thought it would be easier if I spoke to you in person'.
    Perfectly correct in English.
    Completamente equivalente, salvo el uso del subjuntivo en español para el tercer verbo.
    Strictly speaking, "spoke" in the English is in the subjunctive mood, although it is spelled the same as the past tense of the indicative mood. This is only visible with the "be" verb.

    Ex.
    I thought it would be easier if I were in the same room with you.
     

    Ballenero

    Senior Member
    Spaniard
    for example, if I went to someone's house instead of calling them and they said 'why are you here?', I would say 'I thought it would be easier if I spoke to you in person'. Is there an equivalent to this in Spanish?
    Pensaba/Pensé
    que sería más fácil
    -si te lo decía en persona.
    -si hablábamos en persona.
     

    Juan Moretime

    Member
    American English, East Coast
    Pensaba/Pensé
    que sería más fácil
    -si te lo decía en persona.
    -si hablábamos en persona.

    I'm staying for a few months with sister, who lives in the south of Spain. She lives in the country, which means that I can´t guarantee that everyone I meet will speak English. I can carry a conversation in French, albeit with an effort, but my Spanish could use a LOT of work. I don't need to impress Spaniards with my eloquent style, I just need to communicate as simply and easily as possible.

    Your suggestions strike me as very 'French'. So, I'm glad to know that a native speaker uses them. Notice the use of the conditional and the imperfect instead of the subjunctive. For that matter, I wouldn't even bother with

    -si te lo decía en persona.
    -si hablábamos en persona.

    A very natural way to say it in French is something like this:

    -Pensaba que sería más fácil de (hablar contigo/de te lo decir) en persona-

    Note the use of the infinitive, which saves me the need to conjugate hablar or decir. Would my suggestion (the use of the infinitive) be understood/acceptable to most Spaniards?
     

    Ballenero

    Senior Member
    Spaniard
    Pensaba que sería más fácil de (hablar contigo/de te lo decir) en persona-

    Note the use of the infinitive, which saves me the need to conjugate hablar or decir. Would my suggestion (the use of the infinitive) be understood/acceptable to most Spaniards?
    Usando el infinitivo:
    Pensé que sería más fácil hablar contigo en persona.
    Aunque así puede dar a entender que hablar contigo en persona es difícil o complicado.

    Para evitar esto, mejor usar la construcción de Agró:
    Pensé que lo más fácil sería hablar contigo en persona.

    (Y cambiaría "lo más fácil" por "mejor",
    Pensé que sería mejor hablar contigo en persona.)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Perfectly correct in English.

    Strictly speaking, "spoke" in the English is in the subjunctive mood, although it is spelled the same as the past tense of the indicative mood. This is only visible with the "be" verb.

    Ex.
    I thought it would be easier if I were in the same room with you.
    It actually has two interpretations, indicative and subjunctive:

    Present tense indicative: I think it will be easier if I speak to you in person, i.e. if I am in the same room with you.
    Past tense indicative: I thought it would be easier if I spoke to you in person, i.e. if I was in the same room with you.

    Conditional + "past" subjunctive: I think/thought it would be easier if I spoke to you in person, i.e. if I were in the same room with you.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    That seems incorrect to me. "It would be easier" is a conditional that pairs with the hypothesis "if I were..."
    My point is that sometimes would is just the past tense indicative of will, not a conditional form at all:

    Present: I think that if an apple is red it will be ripe.
    Past: I thought that if an apple was red it would be ripe.

    Present: I don't think he'll come unless I'm there.
    Past: I didn't think he'd come unless I was there.

    This is not the situation in which it's hard because I am not in the same room:

    Present: I think it will be easier if I am in the same room.
    Past: I thought it would be easier if I was in the same room.

    Presente: Pienso que será más fácil si te lo digo en persona.
    Pasado: Pensaba que sería más fácil si te lo decía en persona.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    This is not the situation in which it's hard because I am not in the same room:

    Present: I think it will be easier if I am in the same room.
    Past: I thought it would be easier if I was in the same room.
    I think it is the same situation. The "if" is the problem there, which makes it a conditional/hypothetical. However, the following is correct, and I think it conveys what you are referring to.

    I thought it would be easier because I was in the same room.

    I can't think of any situation in which "if/was" would be correct in that sentence. Of course, native speakers routinely ignore all of this and do indeed use "was" in such situations, which muddies the waters. Maybe that is what you are thinking of.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I think it is the same situation. The "if" is the problem there, which makes it a conditional/hypothetical. However, the following is correct, and I think it conveys what you are referring to.

    I thought it would be easier because I was in the same room.

    I can't think of any situation in which "if/was" would be correct in that sentence. Of course, native speakers routinely ignore all of this and do indeed use "was" in such situations, which muddies the waters. Maybe that is what you are thinking of.
    That is not what I am thinking of.

    "If" does not automatically imply irrealis (i.e. a contrary-to-fact conditional). We have two forms was and were because they do not mean the same thing.

    Would you insist on were in my other was examples?

    Would you insist on dijera in my last example (or dropping si and using an infinitive)?
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    Would you insist on were in my other was examples?

    Would you insist on dijera in my last example (or dropping si and using an infinitive)?
    Your other examples seem fine to me. I'm only commenting on the sentence of the OP, in which only the hypothetical (irrealis, as you put it) makes sense to me. As for the Spanish, I'll let others comment on that.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Irrealis is a situation in which the action or state described in the if clause is not a real choice. For example, "if I were you" is irrealis because I am not you. If I am not in the same room, I say "if I were in the same room", not "if I was in the same room".

    But in the OP situation as I see it, the speaker is in the same room and wants to explain why he or she decided to be there (when being there was a real choice), not hypothesizing about what would happen if things were not as they actually are.

    In this, the situation is the same as with that red apple. If it was red, it would be ripe. Yes, if introduces a hypothesis (i.e. something that may or may not be the case), but no, it is not irrealis and does not require subjunctive, as it would if the sentence were about an apple that was known to actually be green.
     
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