Spanish Word of the Day Archive
Friday August 31, 2007
In its meaning of fact you often use hecho to introduce a clause with the structure el hecho de que...
Su éxito se explica por el hecho de que tienen como principio-guía de su actividad el respeto a la vida humana.
Their success is explained by the fact that the guiding principle behind their activity is respect for human life.
In the previous example the verb in the clause — tienen — is in the indicative because the writer is making a clear statement about something they perceive to be a fact. Compare that with the following example, where the subjunctive is used:
Está impresionada por el hecho de que se pueda* inaugurar una pista de hielo sin un material sanitario mínimo.
She’s amazed by the fact that they can open an ice rink without basic first-aid equipment.
You see, you don’t only use the subjunctive after verbs, but also after certain kinds of noun phrase, such as el hecho de que. And in the example above the verb pueda is in the subjunctive because the person concerned is expressing an emotion — impresionada — which is one of the factors dictating that you use the subjunctive. A parallel use of the subjunctive with a verb is:
¿Le molesta que me guste* una mujer que no es usted?
Are you upset because I like a woman who isn’t you?
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