Dec 14, 2009, 11:16 AM
Post #8 of 12
To jump right to the middle, subjunctive does not always imply future. For instance, when referring to emotions:
Re: [raferguson] Tal vez regresemos. - Subjunctive?
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No creo que sea cierto. I don't think it's/that's true.
But it can imply future action when expressing possibility:
Puede ser que vayamos a Puerto Vallarta algún día. It's possible that/Maybe we will go to Puerto Vallarta some day.
Es posible que (él) tenga algún problema con la computadora. It's possible that he's having problems with the computer (right now).
So, how to express the idea of something happening in the future? There are a million different ways to do that. Okay, maybe
not a million, but a lot.
One of the simplest ways is to use the present tense. Technically, this is only supposed to refer to something that is going to happen in the very near future, like tomorrow:
Voy a Nueva York (mañana). I'm going to New York (tomorrow).
But the future is often informally used to refer to things that might (or might not) happen at some unknown time in the future:
Tal vez regresamos. Maybe we will go back (one day).
In a case like this, using the subjunctive along with "maybe" (tal vez regresemos) expresses double uncertainty: once with tal vez, and again with regresemos. Even when it's used to refer to something that could happen in the future, the subjunctive carries a certain flavor of uncertainty. By no means does this imply that it's never correct to say tal vez regresemos or quizás volvamos or anything like that. On the contrary, it can express exactly what you want to say, like when you're talking to a friend about the trip you took to Switzerland when you were young and unattached, and you say tal vez regrese because you'd really like to go back but it might not ever happen because you don't have the money, or the free time you used to.
On the other hand, if you want to express to someone that you enjoyed the time you spent in their city and would like to return someday, it would be better to ditch the subjunctive to avoid sounding too uncertain, as in, "I'm saying this just to be polite, but I really hated the pollution and I hope I never have to go back." In this case, you could work in algún día or un día de estos, which are always useful when talking about what might happen in the future. And you can almost always fall back on a simple, "I liked it and I want to do it again" approach. As in "Me gustó el festival y tengo ganas de volver/ir otra vez" or "Me gustaría ir otra vez." Or something like that. It's simple, easy to say, and the feeling behind it is readily understood.