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Cambio de tiempos verbales inesperados

Unexpected Tense Differences

Spanish and English have a number of tenses that look similar structurally, but are used very differently and this can be very confusing at first.

Here are some common cases:
  • Where in Spanish El pretérito perfecto (present perfect tense) is used with time phrases of this type (today, this morning, this summer, this year, i.e where the speaker is still inside that time frame, in English El pretérito indefinido (simple past) is used instead.
He comido tostadas esta mañana.   -I ate toast this morning.
  • Where in Spanish sometimes we use El presente (present tense) to express what "is happening", in English El presente progresivo (present progressive) is used instead.
        
 ¿Qué  haces?  -What are you doing?
  • In Spanish one of the specific uses of El presente (present tense) is to talk about future events, while in English that doesn't normally happen; El Futuro próximo (Near future tense) or El futuro simple (simple future tense) is generally used.
 El viernes voy al teatro con Eva. - I am going/I will go to the theatre with Eva on Friday.
  • Common errors happen among English speakers when the subjunctive in Spanish is needed in a sentence as there is no subjunctive in English as such.  Take the following sentence as an example of a common mistake:
      Es possible que tenga que llamar al médico = I may have to call the doctor/ It is possible that I will have to call the doctor.
      A common mistake would be to use the future tense or the present tense of the indicative, as an English speaker would do.
     
  Es posible que tendré que llamar al médico.
  Es posible que tengo que llamar al médico.



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