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I've heard that the word si is never followed up with the present subjunctive, yet in the song Yo No Sé Mañana by Luis Enrique, he sings si lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos.

Why does he use the subjunctive in this case?

5

No sé si lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos.

seems to be a case of regional usage. To refer to the future, future indicative is required in that embedded or indirect question, as shown by the other verbs:

Yo no sé / Si estaremos juntos, si se acaba el mundo / Yo no sé si soy para ti, si serás para mí / Si lleguemos a amarnos u odiarnos.

  • ¿Estaremos juntos si se acaba el mundo? -> No sé si estaremos juntos si se acaba el mundo.

  • ¿Serás para mí? -> No sé si serás para mí.

  • ¿Llegaremos a amarnos o a odiarnos? -> No sé si llegaremos a amarnos u odiarnos.

My impression is that the correct "si llegaremos a amarnos u odiarnos" was too long to fit in and the author decided to shorten it by using present subjunctive, which can express future with other structures, though not with this one.

Further to DGaleano's question below, I'm adding what NGLE manual says under 25.3.4 El modo de la interrogativas indirectas (that is, the mood used in embedded nominal clauses):

El modo de las interrogativas indirectas es normalmente el indicativo. Sin embargo, puede aparecer el subjuntivo cuando está inducido por los predicados que expresan DEPENDENCIA y también por los que denotan INDIFERENCIA: Eso depende de qué día fijemos; Indistintamente de cuál sea el candidato que obtenga la plaza [...] (País [Esp.] 2/2/1999); "Para lo que me importa ya cuál haya de ser mi destino", dijo Esteban (Carpentier, Siglo). En muchas zonas del español americano (especialmente en México, Centroamérica y las áreas caribeña y andina), es normal usar el subjuntivo en expresiones como No sé si te guste esta comida.

I thus understand that the construction "No sé si lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos" is dialectal, that is, correct only in some areas. Where I live, it sounds wrong. The present subjunctive is only universally accepted to express future in adverbial clauses of time of the type:

  • Cuando lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos, decidiré qué hacer.
  • Tan pronto como lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos, decidiré qué hacer.
  • Apenas lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos, decidiré qué hacer.
  • No bien lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos, decidiré qué hacer.
  • Antes/Después de que lleguemos a amarnos o a odiarnos, decidiré qué hacer.
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  • 1
    So you are saying it is "poetic license" meaning it is wrong? It is a very common way of saying here in Colombia. In Colombia you would only hear No se si lleguemos a tiempo a la reunión or No se si vamos a llegar a tiempo... but never "llegaremos". I understand that "llegaremos" is correct and I'd expect to hear it on a formal speech but it never occurred to me that "lleguemos" was wrong. Is it really wrong? Thanks. – DGaleano Jun 18 at 16:10
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    @DGaleano I've edited my answer, and changed "poetic license" to "regional usage". – Gustavson Jun 18 at 17:23
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    Great edition. Thanks. – DGaleano Jun 19 at 16:54
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The si + [pres.subj] is quite common in Mexican Spanish whereas for most countries it would be either in present or future indicative, and potentially future subjunctive in old Spanish

While normally the structure would sound a bit off for non Mexicans, there are a number of factors that allow it to work. As Gustavson notes, the llegaremos is a syllable too long. Llegamos doesn't work either, though, because the rhyming structure demands e-o. All of this coupled with the unknown/doubting quality means that the "lleguemos* form, while not strictly correct in Standard Spanish, works just fine.

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  • Does it perhaps mean: I don't know if perhaps we might etc.? – aparente001 Aug 10 '19 at 5:37
  • It sounds ok here in Colombia – DGaleano Jun 18 at 16:17
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The speaker can choose indicative, "Si llegaremos a amarnos", or subjunctive, "Si lleguemos a amarnos" depending on how likely the speaker believes this to become a fact.

Indicative implies a more likely scenario while subjunctive will have a lesser chance of this happening.

Either tense would be correct with a slight difference in meaning.

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  • Uff. If this is correct it is a relief. We colombians never use "llegaremos" except perhaps in a very formal speech. We alway use lleguemos. The accepted answer implies our way of saying it is wrong, and now I'm not sure :) – DGaleano Jun 18 at 16:16
  • I think that the confusion may be because "si," in this case, is not an "if" statement? – Vero Jun 19 at 14:27
  • In this case, I believe "si" is a conjunction as stated in: spanish.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/… and it is translated as "weather" They give an example: "No sabe si prefiere espanol ..." She doesn't know whether she prefers Spanish... – Vero Jun 19 at 14:35
  • I apologize, I meant "whether" – Vero Jun 22 at 12:45

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