Friday, 10 February 2012

Say What Has To Be Done

Imagine you have been asked to write an instructions manual by someone. You are more likely to have been asked to do so by your boss or a work colleague, but it could have been anybody else. You are not sure about how to handle the instructions and you seek guidance. The person asking you to write the manual suggests that you should aim the instructions at no one in particular and says to you something like: "say what has to be done".

 He/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Di lo que hay que hacer

He/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Diga lo que hay que hacer

One advantage of giving instructions which are aimed at no one in particular is that you DON'T have to make a choice between levels of formality to deliver the instructions. Since there is only one level of formality, you can concentrate on the actual instructions themselves.

Assuming you were asked to produce a set of instructions to cook a Spanish omelet, you may want to write:
  • Pelar las patats y la cebolla* (peel the potatoes and onion).
  • Cortar las patatas y la cebolla en rodajas finas* (cut the potatoes and the onion in thin slices).
  • Freir las patatas y la cebolla en una sartén hasta que las patatas estén doradas (fry the potatoes and onion in a frying pan until golden).
  • Batir los huevos y añadir un poco de sal* (beat the eggs and add a little salt).
  • Cuando las patatas y la cebolla estén listas, sacar de la sartén, escurrir y mezclar con el huevo (when the potatoes and onion are ready, remove from the pan, drain the oil and mix with the egg).
  • Echar la mezcla de patata, huevo y cebolla en una sartén con un poco de aceite* (pour the egg, potato and onion mix into a frying pan with a little oil).
  • Cocinar la tortilla a fuego lento* (cook the omelet on a low heat).
  • Dar la vuelta a la tortilla con la ayuda de un plato grande* (turn the omelet using a large plate).
  • Cocinar por el otro lado a fuego lento* (cook the other side on a low heat).

Now you should practice giving instructions to someone who says to you:
Di lo que hay que hacer

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-The Infinitive
These are examples of expressions using the infinitive to give instructions, make requests or issue orders/ commands in Spanish. The infinitive may be used to give instructions, make requests or issue orders/ commands aimed at no one in particular. It is worth remembering that when choosing the infinitive to give this type of instructions in Spanish, there are only two distinct forms of instructions you can give:

1.- Affirmative Instructions.- These are instructions aimed at no one in particular and inviting people to do something. Some examples of this type of instructions are:
  • Pelar las patatas (peel the potatoes).
  • Empujar (push).
  • Abrir (open).
  • Cerrar (close).

2.- Negative Instructions.- These are instructions aimed at no one in particular and inviting people not to do something. Some examples of this type of instructions are:
  • No fumar (no smoking).
  • No pisar la hierba (no stepping on the grass).
  • No correr (no running).
  • No cortar las patatas antes de pelarlas (no cutting the potatoes before peeling them).

Now you should practice the use of infinitive with some examples of instructions of your own.

This is another Free online Spanish lesson from Love-Spanish.comWe conduct Spanish lessons online on a wide range of topics using the latest video conferencing facilities. Online lessons are the ideal way to improve listening and speaking skills. For more details on our lessons online and how to book them, please visit:

For more Free Spanish:
Follow us on:
Twitter: @LoveSpanish_com
© Copyright 2012 by JM González. All Rights Reserved.
Post a Comment