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I am trying to say:

It was important to flatter my teachers if I wanted to get good grades.

It's difficult to translate because it is sorta like a double subjunctive sentence.

My attempt:

Fue importante que yo adulara mis profesoras si yo quisiera una nota.

I am not sure about the if clause

4

About this particular case, you can leave the second subjunctive out: "Era importante que adulara ... si quería ...".

Subjunctive after si is used only when the situation is unlikely, and in that case the si part almost always starts the sentence. Also, you "step back" a tense, so, if you are talking about now, you use the imperfect:

Si quisiera [now] buenas notas ...

but if you are talking about something that happened in the past (as in your case) you use the pluperfect:

Si hubiera querido [at that time] buenas notas ...

But, as I said, you usually just use the indicative.

In the general case, when you have two or more subjunctives, you should think about each of them separately. It doesn't matter whether the other part of the sentence is in the indicative or subjunctive mood; they don't "add up" or something.

For example, if you want to say...

Para que me diera buenas notas era importante que yo notara que él esperaba que yo lo adulase.

...you can make the decision about the mood of each verb without looking at the mood of the others. I.e., adular would be in the subjunctive regardless of the mood of esperar, and so on.

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  • Wait...you say to step back a tense, but doesn't present subjunctive corresponds to present and imperative?(that's what my teacher said) – user11355 Mar 3 '15 at 0:11
  • I will...if I do(present tense). If would if I did(past tense). Did you mean future instead of present. Because the clause before if is either conditional or future. – user11355 Mar 3 '15 at 0:13
  • When you use "si X entonces Y", and X is in the subjunctive, you either use subjunctive imperfect (when Y is in the present/future/conditional) or subjunctive pluperfect (when Y is in the past). That's what I meant. – angus Mar 3 '15 at 14:27
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You could say:

Era importante adular a los profesores si querías buenas notas. It was important to flatter my teachers if you wanted to get good grades.

No need of subjunctive. You are just explaining how things were in the past.

You could say also:

Sería importante adular a los profesores si quisiera buenas notas. It would be important to flatter my teachers if I wanted to get good grades. (Which is, I believe, 2nd conditional)

You are using subjunctive here, in the sense of "if I cared about getting good grades".

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  • What if I was trying to say: the manager tells him to treat each client as if he/she is always right. – user11355 Mar 3 '15 at 0:16
  • Is it correct to say: el gerente le dijo que tratara cada cliente como siempre tuviera razón. – user11355 Mar 3 '15 at 0:18
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    "el gerente le dijo que tratara a cada cliente como si siempre tuviera razón" is correct, but since in the original you were saying "the manager tells him to treat each client as if he/she is always right" I would have said: "El gerente le dice que trate a cada cliente como si él o ella siempre tuviera/tuviese razón". – Diego Mar 3 '15 at 2:28

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