1

I'm totally confused between where to use the perfect and the perfect subjunctive when talking about the past.

E.g they bought in the past...

So would this be

habían comprado

Spanish Dict describes present perfect / past perfect as:

The present perfect describes an action that happened in the past and continues or repeats into the present or an action that happened in the recent past.

So this would be true. But the perfect subjunctive also fits:

It is used to describe an action that happened in the past and continues or repeats into the present or an action that "has" happened in the recent past.

So... it's the same. I can't figure out the difference.

habían comprado o hubieran comprado ?

Context: trying to translate they bought a house ten years ago

So...

habían comprado una casa hace diez anos

1
  • Can you provide more context on what you are trying to say here?
    – fedorqui
    Jun 24, 2015 at 10:26

3 Answers 3

0

First of all, they bought (in the past) isn't (in my opinion) a perfect form. So, they bought could be translated as ellos compraron. Only in the case of the perfect form, like they had bought would be correct to translate as ellos habían comprado. On the following I write some usage examples:

  • Yesterday my parents went to the supermarket, they bought a kilo of apples. Ayer mis padres fueron al supermercado, (ellos) compraron un quilo de manzanas.

  • They already had bought the apples when they realized that they actually don't like them. Ya habían comprado las manzanas cuando se dieron cuenta de que en realidad a ellos no les gusta.

1

Subjuntive form is used to manifest an intention to do.

Si hubieran comprado manzanas ayer, entonces no tendría que salir ahora

is similar to

If they had bought apples yesterday then he wouldn't need to go out now

Indicative is used to talk about the action

Habían comprado manzanas, pero no suficientes

is like

They had bought apples, but not enough

0

habían comprado it's a past perfect tense.

hubieran comprado it's a conditional perfect tense.

We use hubieran to express a result we wanted instead of the real result.

Hubieran comprado una casa hace 10 años / They would've bought a house 10 years ago. (So, they bought it, but it wasn't what they wanted.)

Using habían:

Habían comprado una casa hace 10 años / They had bought a house 10 years ago. (They bought it, no matter what the result was.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.