The following is an excerpt from BBC Mundo:

El traductor de Google, por ejemplo, ha dado pasos gigantes desde que saliera al mercado en 2006.

Why is the subjunctive used here when we are talking about the known past? I can't embrace it. Can we use Preterito Simple instead?

  • Like @Charlie says in his answer, it's a journalist's thing. There are a couple more of those, regrettably.
    – pablodf76
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 20:45
  • Have you ever read one of those annoying biographies, where chapter 1 has everything you never wanted to know about the subject's parents and grandparents, and we feel constantly lost in the timeline and the pronouns, because the author is jumping around too much in time? In English this type of biographer likes to use the conditional, because the biographer knows what's going to happen later. So, the things that are going to happen later, get described with the *$8@! conditional. It's like that. Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 3:46

2 Answers 2


You're right, that sentence could be perfectly well written like this:

... desde que salió al mercado...

Nonetheless, the use of the subjunctive mood in these kind of sentences is documented in paragraph 24.2l of the Spanish grammar by the Royal Spanish Academy. It is a use almost exclusive of the journalistic field. It may be also influenced by the sentence being part of a relative clause, which are often written using the subjunctive.

  • The 25.14e is also relevant for the particular example of desde que.
    – wimi
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 17:47

Just yesterday there was an article about this in El País. The basic idea is that this is an old use of the -era form of the subjunctive that has made a return.

Originally, the -era form was not the Pretérito Imperfecto de Subjuntivo, but the Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto Simple. There are many examples in Medieval literature. This form started being used as subjunctive, even though that tense already existed (the -ese form, saliese), and, little by little, became almost a synonym and the original usage was lost: today, the Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto is a compound form in Spanish, though the simple form remains in Galician or Portuguese.

Nowadays the old use has a revival in journalistic use. It is somewhat frowned upon by many users, but it really has it roots in centuries old usage, so it is hard to complain about it.

  • Okay, interesting. But I don't have the slightest difficulty complaining about how people use it. (I think it can have its place -- but I almost always see it badly used.) Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 7:46

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