La invitan a que cene con ellos (subjuntivo)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Golfmaster65, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Golfmaster65 Senior Member

    English-United States
    I am having trouble understanding how the subjunctive is triggered in sentences like these

    La invitan a que cene con ellos

    Sus padres no la dejan que salga con sus amigos

    I guess it is because both of these sentences have a sentence that can match up and say te same thing. The only difference would be that these would be in the indicative......

    No la invitan a cenar con ellos


    Sus padres no la dejan salir con sus amigos.

    So basically how can these sentence have subjunctive and indicative equivalents?

    Because a sentence such as.... I want you to come to my house..... Can only be written in the subjunctive ( quiero que vengas a mi casa) NOT ( te quiero venir a mi casa)
  2. mhjames12 New Member

    English - United States
    The subjunctive is a verb form widely used in many foreign languages outside English. It is equivalent to saying "I recommend you be prepared," which is highly formal, but in romance languages (as far as I know), it is used to express doubt or possibility. Present indicative and present subjunctive differ in this manner.

    For example:
    "Yo dudo que ya lo sepas." I doubt you already know
    "Yo no dudo que ya lo sabes." I don't doubt you already know.

    The first example indicates the speaker is unsure to an extent. He/she doubted that you knew, however, there was a possibility of you still knowing. On the other hand, the second example states with absolute certainty that whether you already know is factually doubted, and thus it requires no further debate. In a nutshell: the subjunctive expresses a level of doubt.

    It's sort of akin to estar and ser in terms of the message being conveyed and how it's manipulated when used incorrectly.
  3. Golfmaster65 Senior Member

    English-United States
    Yeah, I know what the subjunctive is, but I just don't know how in these sentances both the subjunctive and indicative can be used to convey the same message.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2013
  4. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    With a few verbs, one can use a clitic pronoun (such as te) with a conjugated verb followed by an infinitive in place of the subjunctive. Whether that applies to your examples, I don't know. To get more specific, I would have to dig out a book, and I'd rather wait for someone more knowledgeable than I to either add to or correct my contribution.
  5. Wandering JJ

    Wandering JJ Senior Member

    British English
    I recommend you don't try to understand all the logic behind the subjunctive - better just to learn what triggers it. After 110 years studying the language, I still marvel at the following 'illogical' pair:

    -Do you want to go and see a film with me?
    -Si quieres.
    -Como quieras.

    Essentially both mean the same thing, i.e. if that's what the questionner would like to do, but one in the indic. mood and the other in the subj.
  6. juan082937 Banned

    with si quieres you put the condition to your listener
    como quieras you let your listener to decide it, and you don't know what will be the outcome in that moment.
  7. juan082937 Banned

    Invitar a It is a verb of 'influence' and you can use the subjunctive because the 'action to have dinner' is not accomplished yet.
    la invitan a cenar con ellos.(infinitive)

    Sus padres no la dejan que salga sola ( It is like an order) subjunctive
    Sus padres no la dejan salir sola ( infinitive)
  8. Wandering JJ

    Wandering JJ Senior Member

    British English
    Nice explanation, Juan. Thanks.
  9. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    I'd be interested if someone addressed the issue of why you can get away with using an infinitive instead of the subjunctive in the examples given.

    If my suggestion in post #4 is correct, what verbs allow you to do that?
  10. Golfmaster65 Senior Member

    English-United States
    Could you elaborate in what you are trying to say with this?

    Sus padres no la dejan que salga sola ( It is like an order) subjunctive
  11. juan082937 Banned

    Would you write down the sentence you are worry about?
  12. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    I guess much of the confusion comes from the term "indicative" that was mentioned in the first post instead of the "infinitive".

    It is basically two ways of saying the same thing. Compare it with English: Her father doesn't allow her to go out (infinitive) and Her father does not allow that she goes out. (conjugated verb).

    The more technical explanation: in "dejar salir", "dejar" is used as a modal verb while with the subjunctive, it is used an an independent verb with a noun subordinate.
  13. juan082937 Banned

    Thanks for your clarification. I am afraid that dejar salir is not a verbal periphrasis or a modal, dejar, mandar, hacer are causative verbs with DEJAR SALIR the subject of salir is the accusative 'LA? direct object that serves as the subject of salir.

    No LA dejan salir con sus amigos= sus padres no la dejan a ella salir, when the infinitive has a subject cannot be a verbal periphrasis. AS a subjunctive the subordinate is a noun clause
    Pronombre de complemento directo + verbos dejar, hacer, invitar a, obligar a + infinitivo

    The subjunctive with dejar is as follow:

    No la dejan que salga con sus amigos = a noun subordinate clause, a kind of order or permission.
  14. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    The example Golfmaster gave is that "Sus padres no la dejan salir con sus amigos." Normally (according to what learners are taught), the thought (Her parents don't let her go out with her friends) would have to be expressed with the subjunctive. The question is why, in this case, do you not have to use the subjunctive?

    Thus, what I am looking for is clarification that what I said in post # 4 is right (or not). What I said in that post is "With a few verbs, one can use a clitic pronoun (such as te) with a conjugated verb followed by an infinitive in place of the subjunctive."

    If that is correct, which are the verbs that you can do this with?

    If further clarification is needed, please feel free to ask.
  15. Golfmaster65 Senior Member

    English-United States
    If by chance nobody knows the answer to the last post by RicardoElAbogado could someone recommend a book that might have answers to very difficult grammar questions? Or maybe something online that is in depth enough to answer questions like this?
  16. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Benjamin and Butt, A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish. A standard reference source. Under $40 at Amazon. I would look it up in my copy, but I have it packed away for the moment.

    The online source is WordReference! We just have to wait for a forero to respond.
  17. James2000 Senior Member

    English - South Africa
    :thumbsup: I couldn't agree more.

    There many so many of these illogical pairs (or triplets) that I think the trigger-method works much better than the logic-method.
  18. SevenDays Senior Member

    Sus padres no la dejan salir con sus amigos
    Sus padres no la dejan que salga con sus amigos

    The infinitive and the subjunctive have much in common, and it is not surprising that where one fits, the other likely fits as well. The infinitive is abstract in nature, and therefore "not real," and as such it has great affinity with the irreality expressed by the subjunctive. El infinitivo y el subjunctive expresan irrealidad y virtualidad, and so they stand in contrast to the reality and concreteness of the indicative. What that means, in terms of grammatical time, is that the infinitive and the subjunctive are not actualized, which is why they are subordinated to a verb in the indicative that defines the time frame. Now, we are talking syntax; let's not get sidetracked by semantics. True, there's nothing "unreal" in sus padres no la dejan salir/que salga con sus amigos; it is a factual statement. What I mean is that, in terms of linguistics, inside the direct object (expressed by the infinitive or by a que-clause that includes the subjunctive), "time" is not actualized, not defined. What defines the "present time" inside the direct object is an external element: the indicative verb "dejan." The syntactic requirement for this infinitive-subjunctive alternation is the presence of a transitive verb that has an explicit direct object: te aconsejo fumar/te aconsejo que fumes; mis padres no me permiten fumar/no (me) permite que fume; sus padres le recomiendan estudiar medicina/que estudie medicina. I don't think that clitic pronouns play a particular part in this (clitics are often used simply for emphasis); that is, I don't think that certain clitics require the infinitive or the subjunctive (if I understand what you are saying), but I could be wrong. The use of the infinitive tends to be descriptive: it adds no special nuances: no la dejan salir. The subjunctive, being conjugated, it's descriptive and more; the subjunctive adds emphasis, weight, etc.: no la dejan que salga. The infinitive acting as direct object plays a nominal syntactic function (like any other noun phrase), but it does retain its verbal semantic meaning. The subjunctive retains its verbal nature, syntactic and semantic, because what functions as the direct object is the entire que-clause. Often, such difference is minimal and it makes no difference the use of one or another (salir/que salga). At times, given the semantic nature of the governing indicative verb, the subjunctive, full-fledged syntactically and semantically, has more force and ends up displacing the infinitive. It's what happens with rogar, where, to me, mis padres me ruegan que coma, pero no quiero sounds more natural and expressive than mis padres me ruegan comer, pero no quiero.
  19. Lurrezko

    Lurrezko Senior Member

    Junto al mar
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    What a beautiful explanation. Congratulations.

    Un saludo
  20. James2000 Senior Member

    English - South Africa

    Sorry to ask for more detail on this, and I know it came up in another thread (which I can't find) that you commented on. If the entire 'que' clause functions as the DO, what does the 'la' in bold above count as? I seem to recall that you explained that it is the subject of 'salir' or 'salga', that becomes a direct object. Should I stop thinking too hard and just accept both 'la' and the 'que' clause as DOs? Could [que salga con sus amigos] be replaced by a pronoun, and if so, how would you do it?
  21. SevenDays Senior Member

    That "la" plays an important semantic role; it makes clear the meaning of the sentence. Without "la," we wouldn't know exactly who is not allowed to go out. It is in that sense that "la" is the subject of the infinitive. Syntactically, the subject of the infinitive takes the accusative form "la." You can analyze the syntactic structure of the sentence in two ways: (1) "dejan" has two direct objects: one in the form of "la" referring to a person; the other, referring to a non-person, in the form of an infinitive construction (salir con sus amigos) or a subjunctive construction in a que-clause (que salga con sus amigos). The non-person DO can't be replaced by a pronoun. This concept of "double direct object" has its roots in Latin, and it remains alive in Spanish, Spanish being a romance language derived from Latin. (2), the second syntactic approach, equally valid, does away with "double direct object" and argues that "la" is the direct object, and the infinitive or subjunctive construction function as predicative of the direct object; that is, an element that modifies and thus completes the meaning of "la." According to this view, "la" is the syntactic direct object of "dejan" and at the same time it is the semantic subject of "salir." Some prefer (1), others (2); I see it as (2) rather than (1), but that's of little importance.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  22. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    First of all, I agree with sevendays' earlier post with regards to the use of an infinitive or a subordinate conjugated clause: there is little difference. I just don't agree completely with the parallel of the subjunctive and the infinitive. You can also say: "La veo cantar" or "Veo que (ella) canta", so the replacement of the conjugated verb with the infinitive is also possible with the indicative.

    There is still another theory (which I like): you should consider "dejar+infinitive" as a transitive unit that has a subject, a DO and possibly an IO. (that is why I called it a modal use in my previous post).

    This view seems to be consistent with the DPD's remark about the use of "dejar + infinitive" where it says that if the subordinate verb is transitive, then the tendency is for the clitic to be an IO, while with intransitive verbs, the tendency is to use a DO clitic.

    No la deja salir (salir is intransitive, so the DO is "la")
    No le deja comer patatas fritas (a ella) (the DO is "patatas fritas" and the IO is "le") (and this is NOT leísmo).

    This avoids the awkward double DO consequence.

    Another hot issue is: with which verbs can this replacement of the subordinate with an infinitive occur? (I think that is the main question of Ricardo and Golfmaster) That is a far more difficult question to answer (at least for me; I don't know the (complete) answer).

    However, if you are happy with an incomplete answer, here we go:).

    In noun subordinates that depend of a verb that requires the subjunctive, the use of the infinitive is mandatory if the subject (or psychological subject) of the principal verb and the subordinate verb coincide (but only possible when they coincide):

    Quiero descansar <---> *quiero que (yo) descanse <---> quiero que (ella) descanse <---> *La quiero descansar
    Me gusta descansar <---> *me gusta que (yo) descanse (this is an example of a "psychological subject: the real subject of "me gusta" is the subordinate clause).

    With verbs that express influence, the conjugated subordinate can (but does not have to) be replaced by the infinitive if the person on which the influence is exerted coincides with the subject of the subordinate verb. But, and here the trouble starts, this does not seem to be possible for all verbs: (following examples come from "El subjuntivo, valores y usos", J. Borrego, J.G. Asencio and E. Prieto)

    Mandó a Antonio que (Antonio) saliera or Mandó a Antonio salir.
    Permitió a su madre que (su madre) fuera a visitarlo
    or Permitió a su madre ir a visitarlo.

    But, they mark as questionable:

    Le rogó perdonarlo (??)
    Le pidio perdonarlo (??)

    and as "possibly correct" (only one ?)

    Le suplicó perdonarlo (?)
    Le aconsejó perdonarlo (?)

    That's about all I can say about it (I think). I hope that, at least, it clears up some doubts.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  23. James2000 Senior Member

    English - South Africa
    Thanks Seven. (1) seems a little bit more logical to me once the the possibility of two DOs is accepted. Peterdg also has a good argument, but see my questions below.


    Perhaps this is a bit unlikely and obscure, but what happens if the second verb is transitive and has both a DO and IO?

    He (somebody other than her father) doesn't allow her to give X to her father.

    C. No le deja dar X a su padre. (le and su padre are different people)
    D. No le deja darle X. (Is this correct or possible?)

    I suspect that since the non-person DO that Seven describes above can't be changed into a pronoun, D isn't even possible?

    It seems to me that if the two verbs form a transitive unit, you trade your double DO problem for a double IO problem?
  24. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    That's a good one.:)

    But I'm aware it is not fool proof. Also, the DPD speaks about the "tendency", which means also the other option is used. (No le dejo salir or No lo dejo comer patatas fritas)

    Also, this theory only works for "hacer + infinitive" and "dejar + infinitive"; "ver + infinitive" and "oír + infinitive" always have a DO pronoun (La veo comer patatas fritas)
  25. James2000 Senior Member

    English - South Africa
  26. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    I would gladly settle for five or ten common verbs for which use of the infinitive in lieu of the subjunctive would not be considered a mistake.

    I'd also like to know if there are a just a handful of such verbs or whether there is a large (but undefined) number of such verbs. Thanks.
  27. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    No la veo comer <---> No veo que (ella) coma.
    No la oigo cantar <---> No oigo que ella cante.
    La dejo salir <---> Dejo que (ella) salga.
    La hago comer <---> Hago que (ella) coma.
    Quiero descansar <---> Quiero que (él) descanse.
    Agradezco haber sido invitado <---> Agradezco que lo hayan invitado.
    Me gustaría comer <---> Me gustaría que (él) comiera.
    No creo haber visto un milagro <---> No creo que haya visto un milagro.
    Espero tener suerte <---> Espero que tenga suerte.
    Me molesta tener que ir a trabajar mañana <---> Me molesta que (él) tenga que ir a trabajar mañana.

    In principle, the number of verbs is (almost) infinite.

    EDIT: I didn't notice Ricardo wanted examples with subjunctive: I have adapted the examples.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  28. juan082937 Banned

    With the causative verbs, dejar, hacer, mandar and the perception verbs oir, ver, mirar etc. USING the clitic la[le
  29. juan082937 Banned

    CAUSATIVE verbs hacer, dejar, mandar alternate the infinitive with a a completive nominal subordinate clause SUBJUNCTIVE, and the subject of the infinitive is realized through the accusative. The nominaliztion of the infinitive with ‘La’ differentiate the noun function from the verbal action of the infinitive and to diffrentiate as well the abstract meaning with the nominal function. With the causative verbs the subject of the infinitive is not co-referential with the main clause, they are different subjects. The perception verbs demands a co-referential subjects to accept the infinitive. The verbs that select completive noun subordinates in SUBJUNCTIVE are compatible using the infinitive as a general rule.
    The accusative in these verbs requires that the clictic element is placed before the main verb, not after.
    No La dejan salir con sus amigos alternates with No la dejan que salga con sus amigos, The infinitive alternates with the subjunctive completive nominal subordinates.

    The verb SALIR is an intransitive verb that explains clearly the referential complement of the verb salir is with the preposition ‘CON sus amigos’
    As rule of thumb the infinitive alternates with a nouncompletive subordinate subjunctive mostly, and rarely with the indicative.
    This ‘climbing’ of the DO ‘LA’ in front of the main verb is clear in these verbs (causative)
    WE have to remember that the clictic is in DATIVE when the infinitive verb is TRANSITIVE, in our example SALIR intransitive so the direct clictic is relevant in DO.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  30. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    I found this passage in a book on Spanish grammar that explains the issue in simple terms (for those of us who are not knowledgeable about linguistics). In discussing an alternative to the standard construction of using the subjunctive in a subordinate clause, it says:

    Is the foregoing quote correct in what it says (leaving aside verbs of perception such as oir, ver, mirar, etc., which it does not address)?

    And juan082937, are the "causative verbs" the verbs of ordering, preventing, permitting and forbidding?

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