Life in the Subjunctive

I’m taking an intensive Spanish class for 6 weeks. I’ve been in the Dominican Republic for more than 3 years and I can get by pretty well in Spanish but I am not as fluent as I would like to be after this many years. I haven’t been able to have tutoring or classes the whole time we have been here so I needed some help moving from “street Spanish” to something we a bit more sophisticated.
This week we are learning the subjunctive “tense.” It isn’t really its own verb tense but it is very important in Latin culture where directness and efficiency are considered rude and relationships and emotions are of the utmost importance. This tense deals with uncertainty and desires. We don’t have the equivalent in English which makes it a bit complicated to learn (for me anyway). The subjunctive, as I understand it, deals with things we hope for, desire, want, and long for but that there is some uncertainty whether it will happen. For example, I may hope that my kids will wash their dishes but there is always some uncertainty that they will. I may insist, suggest, council, want, support, need all sorts of things but I can’t be sure they will happen. Verbs that express doubt, hope, suggestion, desire, emotion, and influence all need to be conjugated using the subjunctive.
As I have struggled through learning this “tense,” I realized that we are living in the subjunctive ourselves right now. When we came to the DR we were full of much certainty (well, there was a lot of uncertainty too but we had a purpose we were sure of). Right now, we are uncertain about the timing of our adoption, and honestly there are days I can’t believe it will ever actually happen. We are uncertain of where in the US we will end up next year. We are uncertain what Harley will find to do for a job after this “time out” he has had while taking time to teach and serve. We long to be with friends and family but are uncertain when that will be. We use verbs and adverbs like “we could do …” or “probably next summer…” These are subjunctive days for us.
However, in days like these it is important for us to remember things we are not in doubt about. We know that God has a plan for us and that it will be good (not always easy, but good). We know He wants all children to be in families so we know He will bring more into our willing hearts. We know we were right to come here and we know that we have been blessed to be here. We know we will do whatever we do together. So maybe these days aren’t so subjunctive after all…


About harleymc31

My wife Abby and I are missionaries in the Dominican Republic, working as a High School Math and Science teachers at Doulos Discovery School. We are joined by our three boys, aged 9, 7, and 5 who attend the same school and bring us untold joy every day.
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2 Responses to Life in the Subjunctive

  1. Judith Land says:

    May all your dreams come true…Que todos tus sueños se hagan realidad.
    Whatever you may want…lo que quieras;
    Whatever it may cost…cueste lo que cueste

  2. Jen says:

    We know too well the waiting game at hand. Know that I pray for y’all every morning aling with our other D.R. waiting families. In the wait, there is a purpose. Without it, we miss opportunities to grow and learn to trust. You are not alone or forgotten. Keep “subjunctivating” 😉

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