I’m seeking help from both Spanish and English speakers here, and I think non-native speakers of either language will probably be able to shed just as much light on the subject as native ones.
A student of mine came across «I’d prefer it if you didn’t say anything» as a possible translation (amongst others) of «Preferiría que no dijeras nada». Of her own accord, it wouldn’t have occurred to her to use «if». I told her that there are other instances in which English prefers «if» to «that», or any other infinitive/gerund construction. For example, «Do you mind if I smoke?»
So I now have two questions to pose to you:
1: Though I think that «que» would be used more often, just how normal/strange would it seem to you to hear «si» in sentences like «¿Te importa si fumo?», «(Lo) Preferiría si no no dijeras nada». (Whilst the first one sounds just about ok to me, the second one is not what I’d expect to hear).
2: This question is my main concern, or at least, the most urgent. My student, hungry to learn, asked me what other verbs prefer «if» where Spanish prefers «que». She was hoping for a list. I’ve searched for examples and explanations, but I haven’t come to a clear conclusion.
I thought of «I’d hate it if you lost all your money», which would more likely be translated as «Odiaría que perdieras todo tu dinero» and we could say the same about «like», «love» etc.
So, can anyone help me with that list of verbs which admit «if» instead of Spanish «que» , leaving aside English alternatives such as «I’d hate you to lose all your money»?
I hope my query is understandable and I’ll be grateful for any comments.
Many thanks, all, for the most recent comments.
We’ll have to agree not to disagree, but to differ about our usage of tenses/moods after «suggest», and yes, should is a life-saver when it comes to swerving the awkward subject.
Special thanks to Blasita for gently guiding us back to the subject. Doubt is a great find, Blasita – definitely one of those which I had somewhere in the back of my mind but couldn’t fish out from the depths! I’ve added it, along with don’t care, appreciate (it) and enjoy (it), to that «list», which, thanks to all of you, is taking form.
I’m very grateful for all the interest and help.
You ask about «I would prefer you didn’t smoke» and «I would prefer that you didn’t smoke.» I speak British English. I personally couldn’t use either of these and I don’t hear either from the people around me. I would say «I would prefer it if you didn’t smoke.»
Hello Bill and welcome to the blog:
How about I prefer you didn’t smoke or i prefer that you didn’t smoke, Do you still stick the «if’ there? 🙂
Thanks for the welcome, chileno.
Yes, I would include the «if» (and the «it»): «I would prefer it if you didn’t smoke.»
Pleased to meet you! Nice to have another Brit around. I appreciate your contribution. I hope to hear from you again soon.
Welcome to this café, Bill! Thank you so much for coming and I hope to see you around too. Your comments will be really appreciated anywhere in this site.
You’re very welcome, Nibbles. I’m afraid I can’t find any other verbs that prefer “if” where Spanish prefers “que”. Well, what about e.g. I’m sorry if you think I let you down if a Spanish speaker is trying to translate Siento que pienses que te fallé/te he fallado?
I didn’t learn English by translating it into Spanish. This makes it all more difficult, but so interesting!
Have a nice evening, everyone.
Thanks for one more, Blasita. Like some of the first ones, I think it could also be expressed with «si» in Spanish (with the other corresponding changes, of course), right? We could certainly also say «I’m sorry that you think…»in English.
My student has also done her own research and is satisfied that there is no pre-established list but is very happy to be learning all these examples you are coming up with.
Yes, you’re right, Nibbles. As I mentioned before, I can’t find any more «goodies». I’m glad it’s been useful; we’ll continue thinking about it!