I have seen this phrase and I wondered if it was correct: "Juro que él hubiera sido el primer fan" but to me, this was grammatically incorrect as the verb "jurar" does not require the subjunctive. Or am I wrong? I also thought this might be because natives prefer "hubiera" instead of "había", but again this is only a guess of mine and needs confirmation. Thanks.

  • This is actually substituting subjunctive for conditional. There have been a number of questions dealing with that; see for example this one. If that answers your question, I think we could close this question as a duplicate of that one. – pablodf76 Aug 23 '19 at 22:28
  • Possible duplicate of Habría hecho vs hubiera hecho – pablodf76 Aug 23 '19 at 22:29
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    doesn't look like a duplicate, in this case it seems like the OP is having confusion between the imperfect past and the subjuntive form of the imperfect past – Mike Aug 24 '19 at 2:10
  • Hi there. I do know the difference between the two however in this sentence it seemed to me that there is no need for the pluperfect subjunctive as the sentence does not conclude with a condition (si clause). That is why I was asking this question - I thought this is another one of the ways natives disregard grammatical rules however are still understood by others around them. – Andreea Aug 24 '19 at 15:01
  • Andreea, where have you seen this? It looks weird to me too. – aparente001 Aug 24 '19 at 23:12

The sentence:

"Juro que él hubiera sido el primer fan"

is correct if a condition is implied, and if "jurar" is used to express present certainty rather than certainty about a past event:

  1. Juro que él hubiera sido el primer fan si la hubiera conocido. (The speaker claims that, if he had met/known her, he would have been her number one fan, but he didn't.)

In a context in which the condition is implicit, the sentence proposed would be perfect to refer to a past hypothetical scenario:

1'. Es una pena que Bob no haya conocido a Whitney Houston. Juro que (de haberla conocido) hubiera sido el primer fan.

The indicative would be used to refer to a real past event:

  1. Juro que él había sido el primer fan. (I assure you he had been her first fan at the time.)

Note: To clarify the meaning of "jurar" as requested by @aparente001 in a comment, my understanding is that in sentence (1) the speaker expresses a present belief about a hypothetical event that never occurred: "Hubiera sido el primer fan, estoy seguro" (He would have been the first fan, I'm sure). Instead, in sentence (2) the verb "jurar" is used to ratify something that actually happened: "Te aseguro que había sido el primer fan" (I assure you he had been the first fan).

  • would this this be a better answer if you add that this is a the subjuntive of imperfect presente ? and thus it is used as the way you explained ? – Mike Aug 23 '19 at 22:52
  • Hi Gustavon. Thanks for this clarification. It confirmed what I was thinking. The sentence does not imply a condition and simply concludes with "Juro que él hubiera sido el primer fan de ellos", which is grammatically incorrect, right, since the speaker is referring to a real past event (which triggers the indicative), and also the sentence, as I mentioned does not end with a condition. If it did, I am aware that "habría" would be the correct alternative, or even "hubiera" as I see many natives employing today. "Hubiese" is used as the first verb in the clause to avoid cacophony. – Andreea Aug 24 '19 at 15:08
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    No, the sentence is correct as is. I will expand my answer to make it clearer. – Gustavson Aug 24 '19 at 15:24
  • Oh right, now I understand it fully. Thanks so much for your help, Mr Gustavson! – Andreea Aug 24 '19 at 19:21
  • I don't understand "if "jurar" is used to express present certainty rather than certainty about a past event" -- is there perhaps a typo? Do you mean "if "jurar" is used to express present uncertainty rather than certainty about a past event"? Granted, that's a little weird, for "jurar" to express uncertainty, but it would explain the "hubiera." On the other hand, if there's no typo, then could you edit that sentence a bit to make it clearer? Thanks. – aparente001 Aug 24 '19 at 23:11

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