"je donnerais" means "I would give" ("ich würde gebn" in German) right???
What does the SUBJONCTIF translate to in English (or German)?
Actually, if I look at the conjugation of "donner" in the SUBJONCTIF it looks like a combination of present and imperfect:
je donne (présent)
tu donnes (présent)
il donne (présent)
nous donnions (imparfait)
vous donniez (imparfait)
ils donnent (présent)
So, please tell me what the sentence
"je donne" - using the subjonctif - translates to?

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  1. sorry about the typing error in the German; it was supposed to say "ich würde geben" (NOT "gebn")

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  2. Thank you for using the Jiskha Homework Help Forum. I can't help you with the German. The Subjunctive will be used in the dependent clause because it is dependent upon the independent verb as to whether or not you even need it. The translation can sound like an infinitive, present, future, or "may" in the Present Subjunctive. That last translation seems to be dying out in English; in fact, I used to tell my students that in English it is dying a rapid death ! Take the expression: I wish he WERE here. (or IF he were here)

    Let's take an example: J'espère que tu me donnes le livre. = I hope for you TO GIVE me the book (sounding like an infinitive.) OR I hope you GIVE me the book (sounding like the present.) OR I hope you WILL GIVE me the book (sounding like the future) OR I hope you MAY give me... Then the Past Subjunctive can sound like an infinitive, passé composé or l'imparfait, or the word "might."

    Above when you put "imparfait" for donnions and donniez, it LOOKS like that but is not!


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  3. so, if I were to say "vous me donniez le livre" it would translate to:
    "you gave me the book" (imperfait)
    but if I were to say: "j'espère que vous me donniez le livre" that would be the subjunctive and could be translated several ways? Why, though, could I not say "j'espère que vous me donneriez le livre"? Would that not mean the same thing, namely that "I hope you would give me the book."

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  4. OK - as I understand it now it is as follows:
    j'espère que vous me donniez le livre -
    I hope that you give me the book
    j'espère que vous me donnierez le livre - I hope that you would give me the book
    j'espère que vous me donnerez le livre -
    I hope that you will give me the book

    Is that now correct??

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  5. To answer your first question, yes. In the last example you give, you must NOT use the Conditional after a main verb that requires the Subjunctive. There are "rules" for using the Subjunctive. Here are some:

    1. The subjunctive is the mood of uncertainty and emotion. Verbs in the subjunctive are generally used in the dependent clause introduced by "que" (that). You will probably learn to form the present tense of the subjunctive for regular verbs first (donner). Then the irregular verbs = if you need to know how to form the subjunctive forms, just ask. I used to draw a locomotive (the main verb/independent clause) + que (clause relater) + caboose (representing the dependent clause with the subjunctive.) You need to classify the main verb first of all to see if the subjunctive will even "go along for the ride!" That classification will be: emotion, imposition of will (you want someone to do something but that doesn't guarantee that it will happen), doubt, etc.

    2. There are impersonal expressions (except those that show certainty or probability) requiring the subjunctive. If you need a list, just ask.

    3. There are expressions of emotion, wishing, doubt that require the subjunctive (like "I hope/wish" that.....)

    4. There are certain conjunctions that require the subjunctive (many have to do with time = before, until, etc.) Superlative expressions expressing opinion also use the subjunctive.

    Now, don't panic! You will not learn all this at once. It often takes many lessons and a lot of practice to get the "feeling" as to whether or not you even want the subjunctive. Look at it this way, if you can.....Imagine a crystal ball. If you can see clearly that it is happening, will happen, did happen, etc. it is NOT the subjunctive, but the indicative (present, future, passé composé, l'imparfait, conditional, etc.) If, however, the crystal ball is "cloudy/foggy" and you can NOT see that it actually occurs, etc. then it IS the subjunctive.

    Now, this may or may not answer your other questions. Yes, in English, it looks like y ou can use the conditional, future, etc. but that's a "no no!" In other words, the English translation is fine, but the French is NOT.


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  6. P.S. If you have further questions, it is best to use "Post a New Question" because I may not see this post again.


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  7. P.P.S. Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive explanation of the Subjunctive:



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  8. Thank you so very much; I am glad that you wrote "now, don't panic" because that is exactly what I did!!!
    And I would appreciate any further help, like lists, etc, very much.
    Merci beaucoup pour votre aide.

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  9. Le subjunctif usually follows the same rules as the subjunctive in English. The French use the subjunctive in places where it is optional or archaic in English. One could use the subjunctive with "before/until" conjunctions in English, but it's pretty old-fashioned, yet not wrong by any stress of the imagination.

    Il est important que je SOIS le roi.
    It is important that I BE king.

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    posted by Nick

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