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Can we translate “Nós talvez se ensopemos” as “We will probably be soaked wet”?

If yes, then what is the difference between present and future subjunctive?

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    Hi Tony, we're all friends here, but we prefer the questions without greetings or "thanks" messages.
    – Jacinto
    Mar 12 '17 at 21:28
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Yes you can translate “talvez nós nos ensopemos”1 as “we will probably be soaked wet” or, more closely, “maybe we will be soaked wet.” But both present and future subjunctive can express present and future. The choice between one and the other is complicated because it is determined more by syntax than time semantics. In your example you have to use the present subjunctive because talvez requires it. One post is not enough to go through all possible syntactic constructions, but here are a few examples.

Talvez, ainda que, mesmo que, nem que are always followed by the present subjunctive even if expressing the future (or by the past subjunctive to express the past or counterfactuals). In the following examples it expresses a possibility in the future:

Amanhã por esta hora talvez já esteja em França.
Amanhã vamos à praia mesmo que chova.
Ele há de aceitar o convite, ainda que seja só na véspera do casamento.
Ele há de vir, nem que seja à força.

Caso also requires the present subjunctive to express either future or present, but if you use se to express the very same idea you have to use the future subjunctive (you may wanto to see this question about subjunctive and indicative after se):

Caso estejas ocupado agora, eu telefono-te mais tarde.
Se estiveres ocupado agora, eu telefono-te mais tarde.

Caso eles cheguem amanhã, avisa-me.
Se eles chegarem amanhã, avisa-me.

Quando and sempre que require the future subjunctive to express the future (but indicative for the past or timeless situations):

Avisa-me quando eles chegarem.
Telefona-me sempre que quiseres.

The present, not the future, subjunctive is also used in subordinate clauses introduced by que and expressing not a fact but desire, command, necessity, possibility, etc. even if these refer to the future. There is this question about this subject, so I give here just a couple of examples:

É natural/possível/provável que ele chegue amanhã.
Ele exige/quer/pede/implora que tu o ajudes amanhã.
É desejável/necessário/imperativo que acabes o trabalho até amanhã.


1 “Talvez nós se ensopemos” is nonstandard; standard Portuguese is “nós nos ensopemos” or “ele/você/a gente se ensope.”

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  • And this phrase "Ele há de aceitar o convite, ainda que seja só na véspera do casamento." can be rephrased as "Ele aceitará o convite, ainda que seja só na véspera do casamento." ? Mar 14 '17 at 13:26
  • @Tony, yes it can. But at least here in Portugal, há de aceitar is more idiomatic in this circumstances. We use de haver de to make promesses, confident statements about the future, express firm determination to do something in the future (e.g. "hei de conseguir lá chegar")
    – Jacinto
    Mar 14 '17 at 13:52
  • Thank you, Jacinto. My bad, I didn't mention that I'm studying Brazilian portuguese and my friend told me "ha de fazer" is not common here in Brazil. Mar 14 '17 at 13:59
  • @Tony, ask them about this particular sentence, and the other one, "ele há de vir, nem que seja à força". My hunch is that they'll think it fine. It is true that the most common way to express the future, here and there, is ir fazer, ir aceitar, etc.
    – Jacinto
    Mar 14 '17 at 14:05
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    @Tony, my mistake. I've corrected it. It is "ele gostaria que tu o ajudasses", but "ele pede que tu o ajudes"--presente indicativo + que + presente subjuntivo or *condicional + que + imperfeito do subjuntivo.
    – Jacinto
    Apr 1 '17 at 17:27

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