Me preocupa, me alegra - verb forms

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by al.magnus, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. al.magnus New Member

    Mississippi, US
    English - America
    Greetings -

    I am a Spanish teacher and am wondering why the subjunctive is used as in the cases underlined below:

    Me preocupa que Paula no apoye a Marcos.
    I am worried that Paula does not support Mark.

    Me alegra siempre poder contar con Susana.
    I am happy to always be able to count on Susana.

    I understand why the subjuntive is used the in the dependant clause ("apoye," and "poder"), but why is it used in the first?

    Thank you,

    M.TERESA Senior Member

    puedes utilizarlo al principio o al final, si aparece al principio es para enfatizar, o resaltar, lo más importante.
    lo importante no es contar con Susana, lo importante es lo que me ALEGRA contar con Susana
  3. al.magnus New Member

    Mississippi, US
    English - America
    Okay, I understand that it adds emphasis, but I was always taught that the subjunctive is rarely, if ever, used in the independant clause. Why is it used there in this case? Aren't I sure that I am genuinely happy, and that I will be?
  4. stumerr Senior Member

    US English
    I don't think what you underlined is subjunctive, is it? Preocupar is the infinitive, so "preocupe" would be the subjunctive, no?

    And "apoye" is subjuctive, but "poder" is just the infinitive, I think.

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009

    M.TERESA Senior Member

    What is underlined is no subjub¡ntive

    me alegra que yo PUEDA contar con Susana
    me preocupa que Paula no APOYE a Marcos
  6. la_machy

    la_machy Senior Member

    Hermosillo, Sonora, México.
    Español de Sonora
    Hola, al.magnus.

    Those in blue are not subjuntive.
    The underlined words are in indicative mood, present tense, 3thd. person.
    And poder is infinitive.

  7. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Hi, Al.Magnus.

    In your first example, "Me preocupa que Paula no apoye a Marcos", the verb "apoyar" is set in the subjunctive because it follows a statement expressing personal feeling about a following clause with another subject:

    Me molesta que los niños griten tanto.
    Me importa un bledo que tu hermano me insulte.

    In your second example, "Me alegra siempre poder contar con Susana", the verb remains in the infinitive because "siempre poder contar con Susana" is the subject of the clause, which is made clear by it's not being set off by "que". You could turn the sentence around as follows: Siempre poder contar con Susana me alegra mucho. Here, the subject is underlined and you as the object of the sentence are represented by the pronoun "me".

    In English, the last sentence would read something like this: Always being able to count on Susan makes me very happy.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2009
  8. slazenger14

    slazenger14 Senior Member

  9. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Hi, Al. Magnus.

    No quiero ser demasiado quisquilloso, pero lo considero importante distinguir entre la construcción impersonal "me preocupa que..." y la construcción reflexiva "me preocupo de que..."

    I don't want too be too finicky, but I think it's important to distinguish between the impersonal construction "it worries me that..." and the reflexive construction "I am worried that..."

    In the sentence "Me preocupa que Paula no apoye a Marcos", the best translation in terms of grammar and intelligibility is "It worries me that Paula doesn't support Marcos." In the first clause of this sentence, the real subject is only expressed by the verb in Spanish. When we translate it into English, however, we use the convenient word "it" to mark this impersonal subject.

    In the sentence "Me preocupo de que Paula no apoye a Marcos", the sentence then becomes "I am worried that Paula doesn't support Marcos." In this sentence we have the true Spanish reflexive "me preocupo" followed by the preposition de. Though these differences may seem obscure, they are grammatically important.

    Your interesting example "Me preocupa que Paula no apoye a Marcos" could also be flipped around this way: "Que Paula no apoye a Marcos me preocupa." This version in English would read as follows: That Paula doesn't support Marcos worries me. Though rather literary, such inversions are a great way to introduce some variety into English sentences.

    Finally, on the use of the subjunctive in general, it's a generally reliable rule-of-thumb that anything expressing a feeling, opinion, or mere possibility in the first clause will be followed by que + subjunctive when the subject of the second clause changes.

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  10. stumerr Senior Member

    US English
    Helpful info for me. Thank you owlman5. I wonder what you mean by "true" when you say "the true Spanish reflexive "me preocupo?"" As opposed to "me preocupa que...?"
  11. Södertjej

    Södertjej Senior Member

    Junto al Mediterráneo
    Spanish ES/Swedish (utlandssvensk)
    Me preocupa, me interesa, me gusta, me agrada. me sienta bien/mal. All follow the same pattern. That's indicative in all cases and it works like the English verbs suit/fit/worry (it suits/fits you, it worries me). The subject is what causes concern. If you're a teacher of Spanish you'll know how to use gustar, so this verb just uses the same pattern.

    Me preocupo: I am worried (about something). The subject is the one who is worried, the one who feels the concern not what causes the worry.

    I don't think "Me preocupo de que Paula no apoye a Marcos" is commonly used. "Me preocupa que would be..." the most idiomatic way to express it, but RAE confirms it's ok, to say it.

    Have a look at the DPD's entry on preocupar.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  12. stumerr Senior Member

    US English
    Yes, "doing the action to oneself." Of course. Ok. "Me pregunto" porque no lo veia antes.

  13. al.magnus New Member

    Mississippi, US
    English - America
    That's it! That was what was confusing me. Alegrarse and preocuparse can both be used as reflexive verbs, and that was where I was coming from when I first read the sentences. I was thinking along the lines of a sentence such as El perro se comió su comida (The dog gobbled up his food), where the se is used to emphasize the fact that he is eating with vigor.

    But upon further review, neither the subjunctive mood nor the reflexive pronoun is used in either of these sentences. Rather, the verbs alegrarse and preocuparse are being used like the verb gustar where me is a direct object pronoun being used to say that the thing itself makes me happy, worries me, or pleases me (as both owlman5 and Södertjej pointed out).

    Thank you for the help! In addition to the helpful posts, I think I just needed to sleep on it for a night to clear the cobwebs that were bothering me yestday.

  14. stumerr Senior Member

    US English
    Yes, like "me gusta." It please me. I got it right with "Preocupar," but I was wrong to write "alegrarse" in a previous post. In your example, the infinitive is simply "alegrar."

    Reflexive "alegrarse" would be "me alegro" instead of "me alegra." In the last there's nothing reflexive about it.

    It's easy for me to get confused about these things.

  15. Teena Senior Member

    Uzbekistan - Russian
    I think you just confused the subjunctive form. From what I understand you took "me alegra" & "me preocupa" as the subjunctive form of the reflexive alegrarse/preocuparse (in 1st person). In any case, the 1st person -o ending would not have changed to "a", to be subjunctive it would have changed to an "e". If the last vowel stays the same as in the infinitive, it's not subjunctive.
  16. stumerr Senior Member

    US English
    I think you mean, "are reflexive verbs," and ""alegrar" and "preocupar" can be used as reflexive verbs.

    Cheers and Thanks for the question

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