1

Which of the following translation is correct and what grammar rules is it following?

If they would have listened in calc class they would have understood the test better.

Si ellos hubieran puesto atención en la clase de cálculo, hubieran entendido el examen mejor.

Si ellos hubieran puesto atención en la clase de cálculo, habrían entendido el examen mejor.

11
  • 3
    Actually: si hubieran puesto atención en la clase de cálculo, habrían entendido mejor el examen.
    – rturrado
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:27
  • 1
    Exactly that. It sounds better. Otherwise you could always have the ambiguity of interpreting "the best exam".
    – rturrado
    Aug 5, 2021 at 13:28
  • 2
    “If they would have listened” sounds very clumsy. It’s grammatically incorrect to use the conditional perfect in the “if” clause instead of the past perfect (if they had listened in class…) grammarbook.com/blog/verbs/if-i-would-have-vs-if-i-had
    – Traveller
    Aug 6, 2021 at 9:16
  • 1
    Notice that @rturrado not only moved "mejor", they also removed the pronoun "ellos", which was redundant. And I would change "en la clase de cálculo" for "en clase de cálculo". "En la clase" would refer to a specific calc class, if you mean all the classes through the entire course, that's "en clase de". Same as in English, "in calc class" vs "in the calc class".
    – AJPerez
    Aug 6, 2021 at 21:55
  • 1
    @Vero No, the incorrect English grammar doesn’t affect the Spanish translation
    – Traveller
    Aug 10, 2021 at 14:07

3 Answers 3

4

Both ways are correct.

From the Diccionario panhispánico de dudas, in the section for the word "si":

b) Si la condición se refiere al pasado, la prótasis va en pretérito pluscuamperfecto o antepretérito de subjuntivo y en la apódosis se emplea este mismo tiempo, preferentemente la forma en -ra, aunque también se admite la forma en -se: Si hubiera/hubiese tenido dinero, me hubiera/hubiese comprado un coche; el condicional compuesto o antepospretérito: Si hubieras/hubieses estudiado, habrías aprobado; o el condicional simple o pospretérito: Si hubiera/hubiese terminado los estudios, hoy tendría un trabajo mejor.

1
  • 1
    Vale, pero en inglés lo correcto para la primera es: If I had had money, I would have bought a car. Y NO: If I would have had.
    – Lambie
    Oct 19, 2021 at 19:01
2

Hypothesis -> Consequence

Requires

Subjunctive -> Conditional

So the second translation is correct.

2
  • Could you please elaborate on what your "->" actually mean? And how you end up with your conclusion?
    – Peter M
    Aug 4, 2021 at 15:33
  • "->" means "then" at least when you are the mathematical and logic fields. Oct 20, 2021 at 18:06
1

Both Spanish forms are correct, but have slightly different senses of meaning--slight enough that it's hardly worth pointing out the difference, and some will say they're the same. Still, the conditional clause for one is subjunctive, while the other is conditional.

There is no direct correlation to English for these two forms, so consider my "back to English" translations as suggestive for the actual meanings, but it may help one to see that the sentences, while both being acceptable and very similar, do differ, albeit the difference is insignificant.

[With Subjunctive]

SP: Si ellos hubieran puesto atención en la clase de cálculo, hubieran entendido el examen mejor.

EN: If they had paid attention in Calculus class, they should have better understood the exam.

[With Conditional]

SP: Si ellos hubieran puesto atención en la clase de cálculo, habrían entendido el examen mejor.

EN: If they had paid attention in Calculus class, they would have better understood the exam.

NOTE: This "should have" usage in English is becoming outmoded. It does not, in this context, refer to obligation or duty, but is rather a formal expression of the conditional mood. It is quite correct, but is less common in current idiomatic English. This may align with the Spanish usage as well. The most common form would be the past subjunctive + the conditional, as in the second example, though both forms are acceptable. The subjunctive verb in the conditional clause in Spanish may also be considered more formal, albeit less common.

1
  • Why even bother with shoulld have? The Spanish does not even mean that....and you didn't even mention the poor English of would/would
    – Lambie
    Oct 23, 2021 at 19:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.