Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tell Me When You Want Your Things

Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. That person has some items of property which belong to you. Perhaps you had asked him/ her to keep them in a secure place on your behalf. He/ she wants to know when you want them back and decides to say to you: "tell me when you want your things back". 

He/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime cuando quieres tus cosas

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be a little bit more formal and say:
Dígame cuando quiere sus cosas


You DO NOT need be concerned about the degree of formality in what your relative/ friend/ colleague says to you. Whether the other person uses a more/ less formal register is irrelevant to your choice of reply.

Your answer depends only on what you want to say about when you want your things back. There are a variety of ways to reply. Maybe you want to ask him/ her to give you them back:
  • Now if it suits him/ her
  • Whenever it suits him/ her

Here are a couple of examples which deal with those basic possibilities:
  • Dámelas ahora si te va bien  (give them to me now, if it suits you)
  • Dámelas cuando te vaya bien (give them to me whenever it suits you)*

Now you should practice answering the question:
Dime cuando quieres tus cosas

*Please see grammar below

Please note that when using "cuando" or "siempre que" to refer to some unspecified time in the future, as in: "whenever I can"/ "whenever you wish"/ "whenever is possible"/ or similar expressions, the subjunctive mood should be used.

Some examples of this use of the subjunctive are:
  • Cuando pueda descanso (I'll rest whenever I can)
  • Cuando quieras, nos vamos (we'll go whenever you want)
  • Cuando venga Marta, vamos a hablar (we'll talk whenever Marta comes)
  • Cuando lleguemos te llamo (we'll call you whenever we arrive)
  • Cuando terminéis llámame (call me whenever you finish)
  • Cuando Marta y Alfonso quieran salimos (we'll leave whenever Marta and Alfonso want it)
Now you should practise this use of the subjunctive with some more sentences of your own

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