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Better Call Saul #3

Context: It’s a long story, but bottom line, these two guys are trying to rip Jimmy off for $500.

Jimmy: The only way that entire car is worth 500 bucks is if there’s a 300 dollar hooker sitting in it.

Spanish Subtitle: Ese auto solo valdría 500 dólares si se sentara una prostituta de 300 dólares.


Even though the sentence is structured differently in Spanish than it is in English and some [not important] words are missing, “ese auto” still means “that car” in this scene.

The Demonstratives--este, ese--that stuff--for the most part, work like adjectives do. We have to match the noun they describe in both number (singular/plural) and gender.

If you’re not familiar with The Demonstratives, check out this video:

The Demonstratives [Topic]

In this scene, “ese” means “that”. It’s singular and masculine to match “el auto” -- “car”.

THAT entire car
= ESE auto


I need to start saying “auto” more! It’s used a lot.

I first learned Spanish in Spain, where they say “el coche” for “car”.

Then I quickly learned, in Latin America, they say “el carro” for “car”.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I discovered “el auto” seems to work everywhere--and is commonly used everywhere.

that entire CAR
= ese AUTO


The subtitles went with “solo” for “only”. But “solamente” in this specific context, would’ve worked also. That doesn’t always happen though.

But “sólo” (with the accent) at this point is the same thing as “solo”. We don’t have to use the accent anymore. I have yet to meet a native Spanish-speaker that disagrees with that statement.

I would say it’s “official” but I don’t believe in that. WE THE PEOPLE decide =)

The ONLY way that entire car is worth...
= That car ONLY would be worth... (different sentence construction)
= Ese auto SOLO valdría...


I haven’t ever covered the conditional. I like the conditional! It gives us immense speaking powers but doesn’t cost us a lot. It’s pretty easy.

In English, we use the word “would” to communicate something conditional. In Spanish, they have a conjugation pattern for that.

The regular conditional conjugation pattern works in the same way the future does. There’s just one regular pattern. So all regular AR, ER and IR verbs follow the same pattern. And the endings get added to the end of the infinitive--instead of replacing endings.

The only confusing part for us is the fact that, quite frequently in English, we use “would” in situations that ARE NOT conditional. So we sometimes use “would” in English, when they DON’T use the conditional tense in Spanish.

English and its undisciplined ways and illogical ways, is the problem again!

For example:

We used to go to the lake house every Summer. We WOULD fish, we WOULD swim, we WOULD run around every day. It was awesome.

None of those WOULD'S represent anything conditional. Those are all talking about a past, habitual action--stuff we used to do on a regular basis (causing the imperfect tense to be used in Spanish).

Do you get that? It’s important.

But not right now. I guess I got sidetracked =)

This scene, in reality, DOES have a conditional situation in reality--which is why they used the conditional tense in the Spanish subtitles.

“Valdría” is actually an IRREGULAR, conditional conjugation of “valer” -- “to be worth”. So in this case, the ER was removed and replaced with DR. Then ÍA (the normal, regular conditional ending) was added.

If you haven’t hit the conditional yet, that probably seems crazy! I’m sorry. I promise it’s really not. This is SO MUCH EASIER than the present or past. The present and past are the worst. By far. Not including the subjunctive =)

The only way that entire car is worth...
= That car only WOULD BE WORTH... (different sentence construction)
= Ese auto solo VALDRÍA...


“Se sentara” is a past tense, subjunctive conjugation of “sentarse”.

So why did Jimmy use the subjunctive for “sentarse”?

The subjunctive is used in sentences with more than one clause AND when the subject in one clause doesn’t know FOR SURE that the verb in the other clause will happen.

More specifically, the conditional tense (which was used in this sentence) implies that one thing is CONDITIONAL on another. That’s why the subjunctive is OFTEN (but not ALWAYS) used when the conditional is used.

Even more specifically. In this scene, Jimmy is describing a hypothetical situation. The car WOULD BE worth $500 IF a $300 hooker WAS SITTING in it.

But there’s not a $300 hooker SITTING in the car! And Jimmy knows that--he knows the “sitting” of the hooker didn’t happen--so he has to say it in the subjunctive--”se sentara”.

In the first clause, Jimmy knew the “sitting” in the second clause didn’t happen and never would. That’s the bottom line.

Clause one: Ese auto solo valdría 500 dólares
Clause two: [si] se sentara una prostituta de 300 dólares

The Subjunctive: An Introduction [Topic]


Ese auto solo valdría 500 dólares si se sentara una prostituta de 300 dólares [en él].

= That car only would be worth 500 dollars if she was sitting herself a prostitute of 300 dollars in it.

= That car only would be worth 500 dollars if a prostitute of 300 dollars was sitting herself in it.

= That car only would be worth 500 bucks if a 300 dollar prostitute was sitting in it.

= The only way that entire car is worth 500 bucks is if there’s a 300 dollar hooker sitting in it.

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