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I am studying Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method.

It states that in Spanish, "Had" is "había":

Lo había comprado. / I had bought it.

If using "if", "Had" becomes "hubiera" as this expresses an element of doubt in the word "had":

Si lo hubiera sabido, lo habría hecho./ If I had known it, I would have done it.

si hubiera estado allí anoche / if I had been there last night

Later on, it gives this example:

Si tuviera el tiempo lo haría. / If I had the time, I would do it.

I am confused: Why is there no hubiera in this last example? I assume tener (have) has been modified into tuviera to express doubt, but why isn't hubiera used?

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    Your assumption is correct, hubiera goes into tuviera. And that's it. I don't know if this method is helping you but I don't think direct translation is a good idea when learning languages and subjunctive tenses are kind of dificult to translate directly so you're going to have a rough time with it – Matias Andina Aug 12 '15 at 18:50
  • @Matias Andina hubiera goes into tuviera - What do you mean? Also, what's the best way to learn without translating into English (as I only fluently understand English)? – big_smile Aug 14 '15 at 11:44
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    What I mean is that you have to use tuviera instead of hubiera. You're trying to say another thing so you do not need "hubiera" as auxiliar verb. I would use grammatical constructions given by the spanish language. Look for subjunctive tenses in spanish, they are constructed according to rules, it's not random. – Matias Andina Aug 14 '15 at 15:35
  • @MatiasAndina If you are talking about a possession (e.g. car, time) you use tuviera (because that comes from tener which translates to possession) but if you had something that is not a possession (like a being somewhere or knowing something), you use hubiera? Is that correct? Is that the rule? Also You're trying to say another thing so you do not need "hubiera" "Another thing" - I don't quite follow what you mean. – big_smile Aug 16 '15 at 9:19
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    You can "tener" A LOT of things (hunger, anger, dissapointment, etc) It does not have to be a real object but yes, if you have/would have a real object then you tienes/tendría o tuviera. Since hubiera is the auxiliar verb (just as have is used for present perfect as auxiliar verb) it is needed for some verbs that use "hubiera". Since tener is not one of the verbs that need tuviera (and so "you are trying to say another thing") you don't need it. Hubiera works for subjunctive as auxiliar conjugation of haber, but you also have "haya" and so on check es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modo_subjuntivo – Matias Andina Aug 18 '15 at 14:19
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I'll try to write my comments as an answer.

First, I would say that your assumption is correct, hubiera goes into tuviera. And that's it.

On a personal remark, I don't know if this method is helping you but I don't think direct translation is a good idea when learning languages. In particular, subjunctive tenses are kind of dificult to translate directly so you're going to have a rough time with it. I would look for subjunctive tenses in spanish, they are constructed according to rules, it's not random.

What I mean is that you have to use tuviera instead of hubiera because you're trying to say "another thing" so you do not need haber as auxiliar verb.

You can "tener" A LOT of things (hunger, anger, dissapointment, etc). It does not have to be a real object but yes, if you have/would have a real object then you tienes/tendría o tuviera. Since hubiera is working as the auxiliar verb (just as have is used for present perfect as auxiliar verb) it is needed for some verbs that use "hubiera". Since tener is not one of the verbs that need auxiliar, you can use tuviera (and this is what I mean when I said "you are trying to say another thing") Hubiera works for subjunctive as auxiliar conjugation of haber, but you also have haya and so on check es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modo_subjuntivo

Also, keep in mind that subjunctive mode is one of the last things that native people learn during elementary school and it is seldom used correctly because of its difficulty.

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You don't need "hubiera" because you don't need an auxiliary verb. To have time--in Spanish--idiomatically uses "tener" because in a way you do possess time. So what you do is put tener in the imperfect subjunctive, just as you put haber in the imperfect subjunctive in the other sentence.

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  • So if you possess something (e.g. time), you use tuviera (because that comes from tener which translates to possession) but if you had something that is not a possession (like a being somewhere or knowing something), you use hubiera? Is that correct? – big_smile Aug 14 '15 at 11:42
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    Not exactly, think of haber as a helping verb. It will only be used in conjunction with another main verb. So in one of your examples "lo había comprado" you use haber to accompany the past participle of "comprar". Comprar is the main verb and haber is helping, it doesn't necessarily have meaning in and of itself. – Borges Aug 23 '15 at 0:01
  • So if you use a noun, you use tuviera. But for a verb you use hubiera? Is that correct? Thanks! – big_smile Aug 25 '15 at 17:04
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had becomes hubiera/hubiese/tuviera/tuviese when dealing with conditional sentences. In this case, to form the Third Conditional, we use if + past perfect where the past perfect is not translated as había for the word had but hubiera/hubiese/tuviera/tuviese.

Remember that have = haber/tener. The examples uses tuviera because there's first person talking there. — Si (yo) tuviera (...) —

If we say — Si hubiera el tiempo, lo haría —, it makes sense but it's not 100% for clear what we're talking about. That expression is used but not often.

The same if we put — Si yo hubiera el tiempo, lo haría —, it's wrong because its lack of coherence, hence we put had = tuviera to make it clear. — Si yo tuviera el tiempo, lo haría.

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  • so basically haber/tener differentiate between "having" as a possession and "having" as a concept (and in Spanish time is a possession)? Is that correct? – big_smile Aug 14 '15 at 11:43

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