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The other day on the radio I heard the old reggaeton song "Tu Príncipe." The chorus to this song goes:

Si tú sintieras lo mismo que yo

Estuvieras aquí conmigo

Fueras mi novia y yo tu príncipe

The meaning of these lyrics is clear to me ("if you felt the same as me/you'd be here with me/you'd be my girlfriend, and I your prince"). But actually when I started thinking about it, I don't really understand the grammatical structure. Thinking back to Spanish classes, the directive would have been to pair the condition, in the imperfect subjunctive, with the result, in the conditional, which would of course instead yield estarías and serías rather than estuvieras and fueras.

I have some vague notion that there must be some slippage between these forms because "quisiera" is a common way to say "I would like," and if I start thinking about it I've heard this sort of thing before. For instance, the lyrics to "Si Supieras":

Si supieras lo mucho que yo te deseo

No estuvieras sola

Caminando como tú si a nadie le importaras

Como si nadie te amara

No llores por ese hombre

That said, I can't quite put it all together. Why does this work?

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  • Si supieras lo mucho que yo te deseo, no estuvieras sola, caminando como (tú?) si a nadie le importaras, como si nadie te amara. No llores por ese hombre.
    – Nameless
    Oct 5 at 4:29
  • Si tú sintieras lo mismo que yo (A), estuvieras aquí conmigo (B), fueras mi novia y yo tu príncipe (C). Both B and C share A. This is the short way to say Si tú sintieras lo mismo que yo, estuvieras aquí conmigo. Si tú sintieras lo mismo que yo, fueras mi novia y yo tu príncipe.
    – Nameless
    Oct 5 at 4:32
  • @Nameless Right, I understood that part. What I don't understand is why you would say it this way, rather than "si sintierias lo mismo que yo, estarías aquí conmigo. Serías mi novia y yo tu príncipe."
    – Casey
    Oct 5 at 4:48
  • @Nameless On your other point, I also found the placement of the pronoun strange in that lyric, but I did not transcribe it myself, and if you listen to the song it is what he says: youtube.com/watch?v=_EL2zcnBtqk . Interestingly, you'll notice the female singer flips the words back into the position I'd expect for her response.
    – Casey
    Oct 5 at 4:49
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    Regarding de in si tú sintieras, it might also be there for metric, euphony, and ease of diction. C.f si sintieras. (But most probably because it is a standard pattern in that kind of songs. :-) )
    – Pablo H
    Oct 5 at 13:33
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The conditional clauses:

  • Si tú sintieras lo mismo que yo

  • Si estuvieras aquí conmigo

  • Si fueras mi novia y yo tu príncipe

can be used alone to express a wish, being similar to: Si tan solo...

  • If only you felt / you were ...

In this case, the result (which is the main clause of the sentence) can be deemed to be implicit:

  • Si estuvieras aquí conmigo (sería muy feliz).
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  • So you are suggesting that I should interpret each of these lines as their own distinct sentences expressing desires? I can see the logic of that one, but I edited another example into my question where I find that interpretation much less compelling. I concede my intuition might just be leading me astray though.
    – Casey
    Oct 5 at 2:56
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It seems like the secret to finding an answer was learning the technical terms here. Apódosis (or apodosis in English) is the part of the sentence I'm asking about, while prótasis (protasis in English) is the part of the sentence expressing the condition. Armed with these terms, I was able to find some resources which explained this form is becoming less common, but is considered standard, viz. http://hispanoteca.eu/gram%C3%A1ticas/Gram%C3%A1tica%20espa%C3%B1ola/Imperfecto%20de%20subjuntivo%20-%20formas%20-ra%20y%20-se.htm

Otro valor indicativo de la forma –ra es su empleo en la apódosis de las oraciones condicionales (oración principal de los períodos condicionales) como equivalente del condicional –ría. Este uso está en decadencia, especialmente en el lenguaje corriente.

«Además de su empleo como indicativo y como condicional en la apódosis de los períodos hipotéticos, más tarde se introdujo en la otra parte de las cláusulas hipotéticas, es decir, que se la apódosis pasó a la prótasis (parte del período condicional en la cual se expresa condición), haciéndose equivalente de la forma –se: Ella repintiérase si pudiera.

Desde entonces, se usaba “si supiese daría” al lado de “si supiera dixera”. De la confusión de estas construcciones han nacido las variantes que admite el castellano moderno:

si tuviese daría

si tuviera daría

si tuviera diera

si tuviese diera

[...] Este uso persiste en la lengua popular de Venezuela, la República Dominicana y, con frecuencia algo menor, también en la de Cuba, Puerto Rico, así como en la de Costa Rica, Honduras y otros países centroamericanos. Corresponde esta pauta a secuencias como

Me comprara un carro si tuviera dinero.

In short, this is a construction which is standard, but somewhat antiquated, in most dialects of Spanish, but is used more often in some countries, such as Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and slightly less often than those but more often than others in a handful of others, including Puerto Rico, most relevant to the question, given the origin of the lyrics.

This source also mentions that use in apodosis is one of the few cases where one could not use "fuese" rather than "fuera." Also of interest and somewhat related, in some dialects, speakers will use the conditional for both the apodosis and protasis, but this is not considered standard.

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  • I seem to recall encountering this construct in Chile as a child. I think the grammarians called it "incorrect, but in widespread use". Oct 5 at 11:57
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    Your analysis, @Casey, is spot on, but I wouldn't regard this as 'standard, but antiquated'. As can be seen from some of the comments, most speakers are likely to misunderstand such sentences as if made up of a long apodosis. It's a regional use. The key to understanding where this comes from lies in your remark that there's 'some slippage between these forms'. In standard Spanish, you can use 'quisiera' for 'querría' (not 'quisiese', oddly) and also 'hubiera'/'-ese' for 'habría' (e.g. 'if I had known, I would have helped you' = 'si lo hubiera/-ese sabido, te habría/hubiera/hubiese ayudado'). Oct 6 at 18:29
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    But outside of the 'haber' forms and the fossilised use of 'quisiera', the use of subjunctive '-era' for conditional '-ía' is non-standard and not readily understood. Oct 6 at 18:31
  • @ÁngelJoséRiesgo I trimmed it but my source suggests poder, valer, and deber in addition to querer and haber for that usage. Anyway, thanks for your informative remarks. I think you could have left them as an answer. :)
    – Casey
    Oct 6 at 18:36
  • @Casey Good point. I think those three verbs can be used in some restricted cases, that's true, like 'pudiera ser' for 'podría ser' or 'valiera más que vinieras' for 'valdría más que...'. And 'debiera' can be used for 'debería' when it means 'should' (not in conditional sentences). I always use the conditional in these cases, though, so I would advise to be aware of these forms but use them with caution, if at all. The conditional always feels more correct in these cases. Anyway, even if I've felt like commenting, I think your explanation above is perfect as an answer. :) Oct 6 at 18:56

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