I'm to the point in my Spanish study that I'm reading books. I often come across words that I might know (such as repartir - to distribute) but the specific form is confusing. I'm hopeful that someone can, first, help me understand this specific instance and, second, recommend a way to understand what all of this means. Simply looking at verb conjugation charts does not help. Most sites on the 'net seem to only provide this. Do I have to go back to school to understand this? I did well in English but these forms are lost in the cobwebs. How did you overcome this issue and effectively study this? Thanks!
This question is over one month old, but let me enter the conversation, as I do not fully agree with any of the previous answers.
The original sentence seemed to be
Sería mejor que (yo) repartiera periódicos en vez de buscarte trabajo
which might be translated as
It would be better (for me) to distribute newspapers instead of looking for a job for you
So let's go for it...
- "Repartiera" is not conditional, but subjunctive (distributed)
- "Sería" is conditional (would be)
- "Repartiera" is not present tense, but past tense (present would be "reparta").
- Why "repartiera" (subjunctive?) and not "repartia" (indicative past)? We use subjunctive when something is a wish or depends on a condition, and indicative to express facts. Let me include a few examples:
I distributed newspapers when I lived in XXX = Yo repartía periodicos cuando vivía en XXX (a fact: indicative)
I wish I distributed newspapers, as I would have more spare time = Ójala repartiera periódicos, porque tendría más tiempo libre (a wish: subjunctive)
If I distributed newspapers, I would have more spare time = Si repartiera periódicos, tendría más tiempo libre (the beginning of a conditional sentence)
Stealing @McArthey's sentence, I agree with the sample sentence. Repartiera is more like "To Distribute" or "To Hand Out" in a preterit or past representation of a verb.
So translating his sample sentence is like "It would be better to [pass out | hand out | distrubute] newspaper instead of looking for a job."