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Past Subjunctive
The past subjunctive consists of the following parts:
1- The past participle of the verb
2- The corresponding present subjunctive form of the verb “بودن” (“to be”)
So for example for the verb “رسیدن” (“to arrive”), it will be like this:
Verb Infinitive:
Present Stem:
رسیده باشم
رسیده باشی
رسیده باشد
رسیده باشیم
رسیده باشید
رسیده باشند
I have arrived
You have arrived
He has arrived
We have arrived
You(pl.) have arrived
They have arrived
Like most other tenses, the prefix “نَـ” makes the past subjunctive negative.
For the two verbs “بودن” (“to be”) and “داشتن” (“to have”), the present subjunctive is used instead of the past subjunctive whenever needed.
The past subjunctive talks about the idea of something having happened in the past. The examples will give you a better idea of what this means. The main usage cases of the past subjunctive can be categorized into five groups.
1- Condition
اگر چترش را نبرده باشد خیس می‌شود.
اگر عیسی راست گفته باشد چه؟
اگر مریم نامه را دیده باشد، امشب به این‌جا نمی‌آید.
He’ll become wet if he
has not taken his umbrella.
What if Jesus has said the truth?
If Maryam has seen the letter,
she will not come here tonight.
2- Doubt
زینب هنوز نرسیده، شاید تصادف کرده باشد.
ممکن است او هنوز نمرده باشد!
بعید است که نامه‌ی من را نخوانده باشد.
Zeinab has not arrived yet,
she may have had an accident.
It is possible that he/she
has not died yet!
It is unlikely that he/she
has not read my letter.
3- Necessity
The necessity we are talking about here is not what should happen; actually this does not make sense since we are talking about the past. Here, necessity means the necessity of correctness of a guess which is made about the past.
In the last series of examples and in those following, there are certain conditional sentences which might confuse you. Don’t worry about them right now; we will get to them later in the following lessons.
اگر روزنامه را خوانده باشی، باید خبر جنگ را دیده باشی.
باید شنیده باشی که سینا می‌خواهد با فاطمه ازدواج کند.
مهمان‌هایشان باید تا الآن رفته باشند.
If you have read the newspaper,
you must have seen the news of the war.
You must have heard that Sina
wants to marry Fatemeh.
Their guests must be gone by now.
4- Volition
می‌خواستم بهترین عکس را
خودم گرفته باشم.
شایان دوست داشت قبل از ازدواج یک بار
با زنش به مسافرت رفته باشد.
می‌خواهم قبل از رفتن همه‌چیز را گفته باشم.
I wanted myself to be the one who
has taken the best photo.
Shayan wanted to have gone to a trip
with his wife once before marriage.
I want to have everything said before going.
Notice that the past subjunctive is not used when we are talking about volition in the past; but it is used to show the desire for something to be already done before something else. For expressing volition in the past, the present subjunctive is used (instead, the main verb, i.e. “to want”, “to like”,… comes in past tense), as you can see in the examples of the last lesson.
5- Expectation and Hope
امیدوارم بستنی من را نخورده باشید.
دعا کنید رستم کشته نشده باشد.
I hope you have not eaten my ice-cream.
Pray that Rostam is not killed.
Again, these were the most common usages of this verb form. The past subjunctive can replace the past simple or present perfect (which is actually a past tense despite its name) in any sentence when it is hypothetical and not expressing concrete reality.
فقط کسی که به ژاپن رفته باشد
مزه واقعی سوشی را می‌داند.
Only someone who has been to (literally: has gone to)
Japan knows the real taste of sushi.