1

Do you know how there is in Spanish a present tense verb conjugation equivalent to "may (verb)"? Found in sentences such as

I hope that you may be here -- Espero que estés aquí.

Subjunctive verbs, I think these are called. I may be wrong.

But is there a past version for these? Or would you just use the regular past imperfect? For example, how would you say,

I hope that you may have been here.

  • Note that "I hope that you may have been here" doesn't really make sense in English. "Hope" is for future things. You might say "I had hoped that you could have been here." or something like that. – Flimzy Jun 12 '16 at 10:26
  • @Flimzy to be truthful "I hope that you may be here" sounds odd to me too. I would say "I hope that you will be here". – mdewey Jun 12 '16 at 15:37
  • @mdewey I've seen that expression often. Can you use it as I hope that you are there? – Alejandro Jun 12 '16 at 22:12
  • @Ustanak perhaps on the telephone because if you can see them you know where they are. You could say "I hope you are well", perhaps a better example. – mdewey Jun 13 '16 at 8:33
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The best thing to do in this case is to start with the positive statement in the indicative mood and then transform it to a wish in the subjunctive mood. A key concept is that the subjunctive mood is less informative than the indicative mood, so there isn't a one-to-one relationship between the two. Here is a conversion table:

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Source: Nueva gramática

You have several possible positive statements, each with a subjunctive counterpart:

  • Estuviste allí. → Espero que estuvieras (estuvieses) allí.
  • Estabas allí. → Espero que estuvieras (estuvieses) allí.
  • Has estado allí. → Espero que hayas estado allí.

Here are some sample sentences where the phrases above could sound natural:

X fue el mejor directivo que esta empresa tuvo jamás. No sé si por entonces trabajabas para ellos, pero espero que estuvieras allí durante su dirección y que lo hayas podido conocer. Con Y, en cambio, nadie estaba contento. La empresa no duró mucho bajo su dirección, y cuando quebró tuvieron que malvender el equipo informático entre los empleados durante una reunión. Espero que hayas estado allí y que hayas podido conseguir alguna ganga.

The conversions here are:

  • Estabas allí durante su dirección. → Espero que estuvieras allí durante su dirección.

  • Estuviste [en la reunión] → Espero que hayas estado [en la reunión]

Finally, even though Nueva Gramática only lists "haya venido" as the subjunctive alternative for "ha/habrá venido", it may also be the subjunctive counterpart of "viniste", as can be seen in the last example. Actually, the difference between the pretérito imperfecto (llegara/llegase, estuviera/estuviese) and the pretérito perfecto compuesto (haya venido, haya estado) is hard to pin down, and both forms are interchangeable in most contexts. You can read more about it on Imperfect Subjunctive with present tense independent clause?

2

The tense you are looking for is, no surprise, called the past subjunctive, or imperfect subjunctive. You can read about it in Spanish here, or simply by Googling for "imperfect subjunctive Spanish" if you want other tutorials or explanations.

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