I have been learning the subjunctive and all resources I have looked at, suggested that "the future subjunctive points toward a time ahead and implies realistic expectations".

But then I came across an example of

"If I win the lottery, I will build a mansion => Se eu ganhar na loteria, vou construir uma mansão"

Surely this isnt entirely right given the lottery has a chance of 1 in 50m or so that one can win. So Im just wondering, is the idea that the future subjunctive pertains to likely scenarios untrue? And that it should b:

"se ganhasse na loteria, construiria uma mansão?"

  • In translation, se ganhasse na loteria would usually be translated as if I won the lottery. So, that's the difference. There could be, and there's surely been one, like this: "se eu ganhar na loteria, eu …/ Se você ganhasse, né?", or, as I would say it, *se eu ganhar na loteria, eu…/ Se você fosse ganhar, né?"
    – Schilive
    Sep 28, 2021 at 23:38
  • @Schilive Thanks! But so the future subjunctive isnt necessarily tied only to very likely events?
    – Mike M.
    Sep 28, 2021 at 23:41
  • 3
    Mike, it is not necessary, but if someone uses the future subjunctive, it is understood that they think it is at least possible. If it is possible, future subjunctive; if it is unreal, hypothetical, imperfect preterite subjunctive; if it is a fact, as in English, when (quando) is used. When something is very unlikely, we may treat it as impossible or hypothetical, like saying we're gonna go extinct three seconds after you read this: it may, but it's very unlikely. When I said when it is fact, it may seem obvious, but in German, if = when, if you forget German ob.
    – Schilive
    Sep 28, 2021 at 23:58
  • 5
    > "if I won the lottery", "future subjunctive [...] is at least possible" Your comments are answers @Schilive Even if you don't have the time to elaborate or add many references, I'd suggest you post as an answer. It could be just an "early version", which you might improve later on — but even if you don't, that's ok, because a modest answer also has its value (and if you prefer you may even delete it when/if a more elaborate one is posted). But that's just my opinion.
    – stafusa
    Sep 29, 2021 at 8:12
  • 2
    I'd just add that the contrast future/imperfect doesn't have anything to do with the future, it would apply just as well to a present situation: se ele estiver em casa agora (he may be home), se ele estivesse em casa agora (counterfactual, he's not home).
    – Artefacto
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:45

1 Answer 1

  • Se eu ganhar na loteria, vou construir uma mansão.

This is simple conditional (aka first conditional): If I win the lotery, I *will build a house.

  • Se eu ganhasse na loteria, construiria uma mansão.

This is the second conditional:

If I won the lottery, I would build a mansion.

It is often used with quando: Quando eu voltar, falarei com ele. [or: vou falar] When I return, I will speak to him. [or: I'm going to speak to him]

The future subjunctive in Portuguese is translated as a present simple in English and the future probability of the second clause is translated with a will or going to.

(There's all kinds of new nomenclature in English for conditionals, which I avoided to keep it simple).

Yes, it always refers to future events that are possible occurrences given by if + present simple in English, followed by will [verb] or going to [verb] in the second clause.

[NOTE: The future subjunctive is not future itself. But when used with an if or when-type clause, it is followed by a future tense in the second clause. In that sense, it is about future events.]

  • 1
    Are you talking about the Portuguese futuro do subjuntivo when you say "Yes, it always refers to future events"? If you are, that's wrong. You can say things like: Ele já sabe que a mãe morreu? Se já souber, deve estar muito transtornado, see? all referring to events happening now.
    – Jacinto
    Oct 1, 2021 at 23:08
  • @Jacinto Yes, I am talking about in a context with se and quando. Your usage is different. But, it is still translated with a simple present tense. Anyway, thanks. If he already knows, he must be very upset. That is a mixed conditional which I didn't discuss.
    – Lambie
    Oct 2, 2021 at 14:14

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