There was an error in this gadget

Friday, October 22, 2010

What Are “Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses?”

Necesito un amigo que sea famoso. (I need a friend who is famous.)

Does this friend exist? Maybe, but for now he is in my mind. I have an idea of what I need or I'm looking for. However, THAT IS AN IDEA. This is why we need the subjunctive to describe the friend I'm looking for.

¿Conoces a alguien que tenga dos perros? (Do you know anybody who has two dogs?)

In this question, the person asking has no clue if you know a person who has two dogs. Ok, there is no adjectve here, but the description works like an adjective.

The “subjunctive in adjective clauses” simply means that the clause with subjunctive contains an adjective (description) of a noun (person, thing, place, etc.) that may or may not exist. The phrase in this case is formed with two sentences,

sentence 1: indicative (noun) + que + sentence 2: subjunctive (adjective that modifies the noun from sentence 1)

Let's see more examples.

El libro trata de la vida en América Central. (The book is about the life in Central America.)

There is no subjunctive here, because we are talking about “THE BOOK,” which means that the book is known to either the speaker or the listener of this sentence.

But now,

Busco el libro que se trata de la vida en América Central. (I'm looking for the book that is about life in Central America)

There is certainty here. This is why there is no need for subjunctive. The next sentence is similar to the previous one, but it has subjunctive,

Busco un libro que se trate de la vida en América Central. (I'm looking for a book that is about the life in Central America)

Usually the key is the indefinite article (un, una, unos, unas), and indefinite words like something, somebody or someone (alguien, algún, alguna, alguno, algunos, algunas, algo).

Some of the verbs we use often with these structures are: buscar (to look for), necesitar (to need), conocer (to know), querer (to want, to love).

Remember that you need to have two sentences (two conjugated verbs).

Consider this example:

Necesito un trabajo bueno. (I need a good job.)

There is no subjunctive. There is only one verb.

The next example contains subjunctive:

Necesito un trabajo que sea bueno.
(I need a job that is good.)

Again, it has subjunctive because there is uncertainty.

Here are a few more examples:

Necesito el apartamento que está en el centro de la ciudad. (I need the apartment that is in downtown.)
Necesito un apartamento que esté en el centro de la ciudad. (I need an apartment that is in downtown.)

Ella busca al chico que es guapo e inteligente. (She is looking for a boy who is handsome and intelligent.)
Ella busca a un chico que sea guapo e inteligente. (She is looking for a boy who is handsome and intelligent.)

Conozco a la chica que se llama Lupita. (I know the girl whose name is Lupita.)
Conozco a una chica que se llama Lupita. (I know a girl whose name is Lupita.)

No conozco a una chica que se llame Lupita. ( I don't know any girls whose...)

El libro es caro. (The book is expensive.) There is no subjunctive here.

Necesito el libro que es caro. (I need the book that is expensive.)
Necesito un libro que sea caro. (I need a book that is expensive.)

¿Conocieron ustedes al chico que se llama Pancho? (Did you meet the boy whose name is Pancho?)
¿Conocieron ustedes a un chico que se llama Pancho? (Did you meet a boy or any boys whose...?)

I hope this helps.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lo vs. Le

A former student suggested this topic. I had draw some cartoons to explain to my current students the object pronouns, so I am recycling those drawings, not because they're good drawing, but because they may help to explain the differences between “lo” and “le.”

Perhaps “lo” and “le” are confusing because of the following:

  1. Both are singular,
  2. In Spain, “le” is used instead of “lo” in some cases, and
  3. In English, both mean “it” and “him.”

But what is an object pronoun?

Basically, we use a proun instead of the noun. When we don't want to repeat a name (noun), we say, you, it, we, us, etc. Object pronouns are related to nouns (people, institutions, places, ideas, animals) who are part of a sentece, but they are NOT the subject (the noun doing the action) of the sentence. For example,

He reads a book.

He = subject
reads = verb
a book = noun that is not the subject = object

Juliet kissed Romeo.

Juliet = subject
kissed = verb
Romeo = noun that is not the subject = object

These are the pronouns and the rules (formulas) to use them:

1 verbo =
s + po + v
ejemplo: Yo lo leo.

2 verbos=
s + po + v1 + v2
ejemplo: Yo lo voy a leer.

s + v1 + v2po
ejemplo: Yo voy a leerlo.

(+) imperativo (one word) 

Lee el libro. 


(-) no pronoun imperativo (three words or more)

No leas el libro.

No lo leas

Objeto                        POD       POI
A mí                           me           me
A ti                             te             te
A él/ella/usted           lo/la         le
A nosotros/as            nos           nos
A vosotros/as            os             os
A ustedes/ellos/as     los/las     les

A direct object is involved in the action, while the indirect object receives the benefit of the action. These are my drawings to explain the direct object.

 Here, the person is the subject who is reading (verb) a book (direct object).

Now, one person (subject) loves (verb) another person (direct object)

There is not a problem when using these verbs with noun that are not people. The problem arises when we talk about other people, family pets, or institutions. Most verbs related to feelings—such as amar (to love), odiar (to hate), and extrañar (to miss)–need a direct object. Think about in this way, “I love you, you are the object of my love.” Other verbs that use a direct object are pintar (to paint), dibujar (to draw), tocar (to touch), etc.


Julieta ama a Romeo. → Julieta lo ama.
No me toques. → Don't touch me.
Picasso no pintó a Dalí. → Picasso no lo pintó.
Mi madre extraña a mi padre. → Mi madre lo extraña.

Notice that in order to include a person who is not the subject, we need to connect him/her with the preposition “a.” This is just to distinguish that this other person is not the subject.

There are a lot of communication and transportation verbs. When we use these verbs, something goes from one (or more) subject to another. For example, hablar (to talk), enviar (to send), dar (to give), pedir (to ask/request for something), escribir (to write), llamar por teléfono (call on the phone), etc.
These verbs are called, “transitivos” or transitive in English. Think about “transit,” which is moving from point A to point B. 

In the drawing below, a person (subject) gives (verb) his heart (direct object) to another person (indirect object).

Now consider:

Mi tía llama por teléfono a su amiga. (My aunt calls her friend on the phone)
a su amiga = indirect object

Mi tía le llama por teléfono a su amiga.

Le = indirect object pronoun

Notice that the direct object and the direct object pronoun are usually not used in the same sentence, but the indirect object and the indirect object are used in the same sentence, especially when the indirect object is singular and the second person formal (usted), or anybody from the third person (él, ella, uno).

Otros ejemplos:

Mi hermano le envía un mensaje electrónico a su novia. (My brother sends an email to his girlfriend)

Ellos me hablaron por teléfono. (They called me on the phone)
Yo les hablé por teléfono. (I called them on the phone, or by phone)
Mi madre me compó una camiseta. (My mom bought me a t-shirt)
Yo le compré un vestido a mi madre. ( I bought my mother a dress)
Nosotros le pedimos juguetes a Santa todos los años. (We ask Santa for toys every year)
Ana le regala un libro a Juan. (Ana gives a book to Juan as a present)
Ellos le dicen la verdad a la policía. (They tell the truth to the police)

If it helps, drop me a nice comment.

direct and indirect object in English =