SPECIAL REPORT #3
Half Truths and Crappy Information
The High Price of "Cheap" Information
In our previous report, we saw that the 2nd KEY REASON why the subjunctive is so difficult for most learners is because they cannot understand how it works, and whenever they ask someone why, a typical answer they get is: “It just sounds right.” The problem with that is that even if it does sound right for a native Spanish speaker, for a Spanish learner it may make no sense at all. And as they cannot get to understand the reasoning behind the use of the Subjunctive, they cannot learn to use it well, beyond a few phrases here and there.
Equally wrong, lots of teachers and even language programs mention just a few valid points about the subjunctive as if they were depicting the whole picture. This could be as detrimental to the student as it actually is not getting an answer at all. Today we are going to discuss this topic in more detail.
KEY REASON #3
WHY THE SUBJUNCTIVE IS MAKING YOUR LIFE MISERABLE
HALF TRUTHS AND CRAPPY INFORMATION
Another key reason why the Spanish subjunctive is extremely difficult for learners to grasp is because they are hardly ever shown the whole picture.
You would be surprised to hear that the vast majority of Spanish textbooks and even grammar books just tap on lightly on the reasons why the subjunctive must be used or not, and unfortunately, most Spanish teachers don’t help much either. They just repeat by heart what the books say, without fully being aware that by doing this they are helping spread half truths and crappy information.
What do I mean by this? In most cases one concept or a very specific use of the subjunctive is taken out of context and explained as if it were the main reason why the Subjunctive must be used. It is something similar to saying that because you can add numbers very well you are ready to solve any mathematical equation. It is an invitation to confusion and frustration from the get-go! You may understand additions perfectly, but believing that is all you need to be a math expert is a recipe for disaster.
Unfortunately, that is what happens with the Spanish subjunctive. Lots of teachers explain one tiny portion of it as if it were the be-all-end-all of the Subjunctive. And students trust them, of course, and study very hard, only to find disappointment later when they see that in similar, yet slightly different contexts all they learned does not hold water. It is frustrating and disheartening _to say the least.
Funny or Sad?
The funniest half truth I always hear is: “whenever there is doubt, desire and uncertainty you must use the subjunctive.” I am sure even many of your teachers told you this over and over again.
If that was true, then all of these sentences would require the subjunctive:
- She doesn’t know if she will pass the exam. (doubt /uncertainty)
- We want to use his computer! (desire)
- She hopes to use the subjunctive perfectly one day. (desire)
However, none of these sentences require the Subjunctive. But is this some sort of mind game? The teacher just told me that when there is doubt, desire and / or uncertainty we….
Well, you see, half of the truth is as dangerous as a lie.
Although there may be some truth in those words, that concept is just a tiny part in the whole picture, not even the tip of the iceberg but the tip of the tip of the iceberg. No wonder why you never see it coming and once you see it it is too late!
With that type of misleading information on your side, you will be sinking faster than the Titanic in no time!
Granted! The subjunctive IS indeed a complex topic, arguably the most complex topic in Spanish grammar AND sadly enough, it is used in at least 50-60% of all conversations and written forms. In other words, you can run but you can’t hide.
However, the main problem I find is, as I mentioned before, that students do not get quality explanations to really understand how it really works and its logic.
KEY REASON #3 WHY THE SUBJUNCTIVE IS MAKING YOUR LIFE MISERABLE:
YOU ARE PAYING A VERY HIGH PRICE FOR “CHEAP” INFORMATION. While this might provide some understanding and a sense of direction, after spending hours and hours on drills and exercises, it is all back to square one.
There is tons cheap misleading information out there!
Just go to Google or Youtube and type in “The Spanish Subjunctive”. You will find thousands of explanations that do not depict the big picture that you really need. There could be good tips on the subjunctive, but for such a complex topic bits and pieces won’t cut it.
If you remember from report #1, when I was learning English as a second language I found it very hard to understand phrasal verbs, those combinations of words so typical in English that when you put them together their meanings change. For example: “to look: to turn your eyes to something”, “up: towards a higher end or position”. This could work perfectly if I said: “Look up! There is a spider on the ceiling”. However, the meaning changes dramatically in cases such as: “I look up to my brother” (“admire” rather than look upwards), “She needs to look up that word in the dictionary” (“to search, to find”, not to look upwards to see the dictionary)
And if I went online and did a Google search, I could find a great lesson on the meanings of “look up”. However, that lesson by itself will not go to the root of the problem, for instance, how to use all of the possible combinations of the word “to look” (i.e. to look about, to look after, to look ahead, to look alike, etc.) And even if it did, how about the other thousands of possible combinations with other verbs that work exactly in the same way (come across, come down, come up, come along, come on, come out,come in, come off, etc ) Remember, like the subjunctive to a native Spanish speaker, these phrases may sound natural to you, yet they are extremely hard for learners to make sense of.
Learners need answers, solid nutritious information. It is the same as someone who is starving and gets a tiny little snack. Yes, it is better than nothing, but it does not solve the problem, it just puts it off for a little while. What the person needs is a real meal.
Same here. If you are starving for answers on your quest to becoming proficient in the Spanish Language, you need a rock-solid plan to get you there, not patches here and there that fail to show you what you need to understand the big picture and make sense of it all. And we can definitely help you with that.
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This article is part of our FREE SPECIAL VIDEO REPORT SERIES: “THE 5 KEY REASONS WHY THE SUBJUNCTIVE IS MAKING YOUR LIFE MISERABLE AND HOW TO TURN THE TABLES IN JUST 30 DAYS!”
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