Monday, 4 June 2012

Tell Me, What Do People Tell You To Do?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you are catching up with what has been happening. Maybe you are in the process of making some decision. The other person knows that other people have been giving you advice and says to you something like: "tell me, what do people tell you to do?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿qué te dice la gente que hagas?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿qué le dice la gente que haga (usted)?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say what other people (third parties) tell you to do. When saying what third parties tell you to do, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about communicating what third parties say. Perhaps you want to say that:
  • A single person (third party) tells you to do something;
  • A single person (third party) tells you not to do something;
  • Two or more people (third parties) tell you to do something;
  • Two or more people (third parties) tell you not to do something;
  • People in general tell you to do something;
  • People in general tell you not to do something;

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Pedro me dice que aprenda español* (Pedro tells me to learn Spanish);
  • Pedro me dice que no trabaje tanto * (Pedro tells me not to work so hard);
  • Pedro y Ana me dicen que aprenda español* (Pedro and Ana tell me to learn Spanish);
  • Pedro y Ana me dicen que no trabaje tanto * (Pedro and Ana tell me not to work so hard);
  • La gente me dice que aprenda español* (people tell me to learn Spanish);
  • La gente me dice que no trabaje tanto * (people tell me not to work so hard);

Now you should practice further replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿qué te dice la gente que hagas?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Subjunctive
Please note these are typical examples of the use of subjunctive mood. When the Spanish verb “decir” (to tell) is used as a verb of influence*, it requires the use of a subjunctive mood in the corresponding subordinate/ dependent clauses.

*NB An alternative and frequent use of the Spanish verb “decir” is when used as a reporting verb in indirect speech. It should be noted that when used as a reporting verb, subjunctive mood should not be used in subordinate/ dependent clauses of the verb “decir”. This is the subject of a separete post in this blog.

Some examples of the use of the subjunctive in subordinate/ dependent clauses of this type are:
  • Le digo a Pedro que te llame (I will tell Pedro to call you);
  • ¿Me dices que no lo haga? (are you telling me not to do it?);
  • Pedro nos dice que vayamos a su casa (Pedro is telling us to go to his house);
  • Te estamos diciendo que vengas hoy (we are telling you to come today);
  • ¿Ahora nos decís que no vayamos? (now are you telling us not to go?)
  • Marta y Alfonso nos dicen que no lo hagamos (Marta and Alfonso tell us not to do it);

Now you should practise this use of the subjunctive with some more sentences of your own

This is another Free online Spanish lesson from Love-Spanish.com. We 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:
© Copyright 2012 Love-Spanish.com. by Jose M González. All Rights Reserved.
Post a Comment