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For example, the English sentence I wish you are/were here is said as

Deseo (que) estés aquí.
(Yo) desearía que estuvieras aquí.

But if you are here is said as

Si estás aquí, ...

Why not Si estés aquí or Si estuvieras aquí even if it's taking about unreal, imaginary things?

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    For clarification the grammatical rule which is taught in textbooks and you are confused about is that present subjunctive is not used after si. On the other hand "como si" must be followed by past/past perfect subjunctive and never indicative. – user5389726598465 Oct 8 '17 at 20:53
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As far as I know, both "I wish you are here" and "If you are here" are wrong in English if "being here" is an unreal or imaginary thing, as you say.
The correct way of saying that is "I wish you were here" and "If you were here", and the Spanish translation is "Desearía que estuvieras aquí" and "Si estuvieras aquí", using the subjunctive as expected.

Using the present in the first example would mean that you are asking someone to be there: "Mañana doy una fiesta. Deseo que estés aquí" ("Tomorrow I'm throwing a party. I wish you to be here").
Using the present in the second example would mean you're talking about a very real situation: "Si estás aquí, podemos quedar a comer" ("If you are here, we can meet for lunch").

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  • Would you mind merging that into your answer and cleaning up comments here? – iBug Nov 21 '17 at 11:00
  • "If you are here" and "if you were here" are both correct English. But they don't mean the same thing. The second one is an assertion contrary to fact, and would require a subjunctive in Spanish. The first one is ambiguous about whether it agrees with the facts or not. As in, "If you are here, please answer me". This wouldn't take a subjunctive in Spanish, IIRC. – Walter Mitty Nov 22 '17 at 12:00
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The Spanish sentence "si estás aquí, podemos salir a comer" sounds a bit strange to me. It is perfectly valid, and possibly in the right context it will even sound right. But note that that sentence can be rephrased to:

Ya que estás aquí, podemos salir a comer.
Dado que estás aquí, ...

Those two sentence translate to:

Now that you are here...
Due to the fact that you are here...

These two sentences use are and not were. That's why the original "si estás aquí" uses the indicative. It speaks about a certainty: "you are here".

If the problem is the ser verb, see this example for more clarity about the use of indicative:

-Tenemos que dividirnos para encontrar al gato, ¿dónde vas a buscar tú?
-Yo por la planta de abajo.
-Pues si tú vas a buscar por aquí, yo miraré por arriba.

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  • It seems that my answer is not accurate enough so I got a downvote, and that's perfectly fine. Nonetheless I'd really appreciate some feedback in order to improve it or take whatever measure is necessary. – Charlie Oct 8 '17 at 21:42
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The subjunctive is not only for that cases. I'd say it is for "everything that is not a fact".

But this is not any unreal/imaginary situation. It is just a conditional sentence, and the structure is exactly the same in English.

"Si , entonces " "If , then ".

Like, for example,

"Si estás cerca, vamos" = "If you are near (near here), we're going".

Check that it's the same in English. I guess it's due that it's talking about facts, and the best way to see it is reversing the sentence order. Look:

"Vamos si estas cerca". As you can see, reversing a conditional sentence makes explicit that you're talking about a fact. You will indeed actually go if that happens, and so it is a fact and not any unreal thing.

On the other hand, this kind of sentence can be changed so that it is not a fact but a possibility. In that case, subjunctive is needed.

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