12.3.3 exercise: Conjuntivo and the sequence of tenses
The following exercise is about the sequence of tenses. The conjuntivo is mostly triggered and required by a verb that describes some kind of imagination, in other words by verbs like to hope, to fear, to regret, to admit, to consent etc.. In other words real or hypothetical facts that are evaluated subjectively. What we have to understand is that the imagined action can happen before, at the same time and after it is imagined and it can be imagined in the present and in the past. Concerning this aspect, what is generally called the sequence of tenses, we can distinguish, in roman language, between verbs that require the indicative and verbs that require the subjunctive. In English we have a full fledged system of the sequence of tenses only in indicative mood, because we dont have for any verb tens in indicative a corresponding verb tense in subjunctive, but the basic problem is very easy to understand.
In the expample below we use a verb that would require the indicative as well in Portuguese, but we can substitute to say by to hope, that doesn't make any difference concerning the sequence of tenses apart from the fact that we would have to use the corresponding time in subjunctive, that doesn't exist in English.
present and at the same time
He says that he is doing it.
present and before
He says, that he has done it.
present and after
He says that he will do it.
The logic is the same in the past.
past and at the same time
He said that was doing it.
past and before
He said that he had done it.
past and after
He said that he would do it.
The table below shows the system for both cases, whether the introductory verb requires the indicative or the subjunctive. Any of these tenses in indicative has a corresponding tense in subjunctive. The schema differs a little bit from the schema in other roman languages, because the pretérito perfeito composto has a different function than in other roman languages, see 9.1. If the introductory verb requieres the subjunctive, we use the corresponding verb tense in subjunctive, if it requires the indicative, we use the corresponding tense in indicative.
accomplished before imagined / told
simultaneously to the moment it is imagined / told