Saturday, 4 February 2012

Tell Me What I Should Not Do


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking about things to do with a relative, a friend or a colleaguePerhaps you are about to give him/ her instructions. He/ she is expecting some personal/ direct instructions* from you and decides to say to you: "tell me what I shouldn't do".

 He/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime lo que no debo hacer

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame lo que no debo hacer

*NB By "personal/ direct instructions" we mean instructions/ warnings/ orders/ commands/ etc. addressed at a person or a group and delivered mainly verbally, but maybe also in writing. In other words, if you were at the receiving end of those instructions/ warnings/ orders/ commands/ etc. you would feel that you were being spoken to personally.


OUR TIP
When you consider a reply giving personal instructions, you DO need to choose the level of formality with which you give those instructions.

Basically, you have two levels of formality to choose from. Your choice will be determined by how well you know person in question and how much familiarity, affinity and closeness you want to convey along with your instructions. Basically, you have two options:

1.- The person you are giving the instructions to is someone with whom you DO have a very good rapport (could be a relative, a friend or a colleague). Along with your instructions, you also want to signal familiarity, affinity or closeness. In such cases, you could choose to be more familiar/ less formal and give instructions such as:
  • No apagues la luz, por favor* (don't switch off the light, please).
  • Por favor, no enciendas la luz* (please, don't switch on the light)
  • No cierres la puerta, por favor (don't close the door, please).
  • No abras la puerta, por favor* (don't open the door please).


2.- The person you are giving the instructions to is someone with whom you DON'T have a very good rapport (could be a relative, a friend or a colleague). Along with your instructions, you also want to signal that you want to keep your distance. In such cases, you would choose to be less familiar/ more formal and give instructions such as:
  • No apague la luz, por favor* (don't switch off the light, please).
  • Por favor, no encienda la luz* (please, don't switch on the light)
  • No cierre la puerta, por favor (don't close the door, please).
  • No abra la puerta, por favor* (don't open the door please).


Now you should practice giving instructions to someone who says to you:
Dime lo que no debo hacer

*Please see grammar below


Grammar-The Imperative
These are examples of expressions using the imperative in Spanish. In a similar way as in English, the Spanish imperative is used to give instructions, make requests or issue orders/ commands. When considering the use of the imperative in Spanish, it is worth remembering the following distinct forms of personal instructions you can give:

1.- Affirmative instructions you give to a single person using a more informal/ familiar language. Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • Habla con Pedro (talk to Pedro).
  • Come más verdura (eat more vegetables).
  • Vive una vida sana (live a healthy life).
  • Di algo (say something).
  • Haz algo (do something).
  • Sal de aquí (go out).
  • Ven aquí (come here).

2.- Affirmative instructions you give to a single person using more formal language. Some examples of this type of instruction are:
  • Hable con Pedro (talk to Pedro).
  • Coma más verdura (eat more vegetables).
  • Viva una vida sana (live a healthy life).
  • Diga algo (say something).
  • Haga algo (do something).
  • Salga de aquí (go out).
  • Venga aquí (come here).

3.- Affirmative instructions you give to a group of people using a more informal/ familiar language. Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • Hablad con Pedro (talk to Pedro).
  • Comed más verdura (eat more vegetables).
  • Vivid una vida sana (live a healthy life).
  • Decid algo (say something).
  • Haced algo (do something).
  • Salid de aquí (go out).
  • Venid aquí (come here).

4.- Affirmative instructions you give to a group of people using more formal language. Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • Hablen con Pedro (talk to Pedro).
  • Coman más verdura (eat more vegetables).
  • Vivan una vida sana (live a healthy life).
  • Digan algo (say something).
  • Hagan algo (do something).
  • Salgan de aquí (go out).
  • Vengan aquí (come here).

5.- Affirmative instructions you give to a group of people (where you also belong to the group-level of formality is irrelevant in this case). Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • Hablemos con Pedro (let us talk to Pedro).
  • Comamos más verdura (let us eat more vegetables).
  • Vivamos una vida sana (let us live a healthy life).
  • Digamos algo (let us say something).
  • Hagamos algo (let us do something).
  • Salgamos de aquí (let us go out).
  • Vengamos aquí (let us come here).

6.- Negative instructions you give to a single person using a more informal/ familiar  language. Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • No hables con Pedro (don't talk to Pedro).
  • No comas más verdura (don't eat more vegetables).
  • No vivas una vida sana (don't live a healthy life).
  • No digas nada (don't say anything).
  • No hagas nada (don't do anything).
  • No salgas de aquí (don't go out).
  • No vengas aquí (don't come here).

7.-  Negative  instructions you give to a single person using an formal language. Some examples of this type of instruction are:
  • No hable con Pedro (don't talk to Pedro).
  • No coma más verdura (don't eat more vegetables).
  • No viva una vida sana (don't live a healthy life).
  • No diga nada (don't say anything).
  • No haga nada (don't do anything).
  • No salga de aquí (don't go out).
  • No venga aquí (don't come here).


8.-  Negative  instructions you give to a group using a more informal/ familiar language. Some examples of this type of instruction are:
  • No habléis con Pedro (don't talk to Pedro).
  • No comáis más verdura (don't eat more vegetables).
  • No viváis una vida sana (don't live a healthy life).
  • No digáis nada (don't say anything).
  • No hagáis nada (don't do anything).
  • No salgáis de aquí (don't go out).
  • No vengáis aquí (don't come here).


9.-  Negative  instructions you give to a group of people using a more formal language. Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • No hablen con Pedro (don't talk to Pedro).
  • No coman más verdura (don't eat more vegetables).
  • No vivan una vida sana (don't live a healthy life).
  • No digan nada (don't say anything).
  • No hagan nada (don't do anything).
  • No salgan de aquí (don't go out).
  • No vengan aquí (don't come here).

10.-  Negative  instructions you give to a group of people (where you also belong to the group-level of formality is irrelevant in this case). Some examples of  this type of instruction are:
  • No hablemos con Pedro (let us not talk to Pedro).
  • No comamos más verdura (let us not eat more vegetables).
  • No vivamos una vida sana (let us not live a healthy life).
  • No digamos algo (let us not say anything).
  • No hagamos algo (let us not do anything).
  • No salgamos de aquí (let us not go out).
  • No vengamos aquí (let us not come here).

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




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