To continue our conversation on the ever-so-handy conditional, I’d like to take a look at conjecture.
When we infer or otherwise reach a conclusion without reliable evidence, we are basically guessing. In English we might wonder…
How bad could the work have been for the client to have actually cried?
In Spanish we can go a few ways with this. You could go with the more structurally similar “¿Qué tan mal pudo haber estado el trabajo como para que el cliente de hecho llorara?” But then you have a client crying over potential horrible work. That is, the client is crying because the work could have been horrible… but in the end wasn’t. Tears of relief? Joy, maybe? A desperate need for sleep? Who knows.
The conditional is much better for this sort of surmising.
¿Qué tan mal estaría el trabajo como para que el cliente de hecho llorara?
Now we have a client that is bawling, we think in relation to work done, and we’re supposing the work was bad enough to cause the tears. Not a situation we want, but a better translation of what is meant.
So there you have it. When conjecturing, go conditional.
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