Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tell Me, Shall We Eat?

Introduction


This post is about verb conjugation -the imperative of regular verbs ending in -er.





SCENARIO



Imagine you are with some relatives, friends or colleagues. You are about to eat and someone asks you: "tell me, shall we eat?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
Dime, ¿comemos?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:

Dígame, ¿comemos? 


OUR TIP

Consider using the imperative to give direct instructions, orders or commands.

  • Make sure that you conjugate your verbs correctly
    • Be careful with negative imperatives.
  • Choose between formal or familiar options to suit the occasion -see examples below.

Typical answers could be:
  • Sí, come*, por favor (yes, please eat -familiar);
  • No, no comas*, por favor (no, please don't eat -familiar);
  • Sí, coma*, por favor (yes, please eat -formal);
  • No, no coma*, por favor (no, please don't eat -formal);
  • Sí, comed*, por favor (yes, please eat -familiar/ you plural);
  • No, no comáis*, por favor (no, please don't eat -familiar/ you plural);
  • Sí, coman*, por favor (yes, please eat -formal/ you plural);
  • No, no coman*, por favor (no, please don't eat -formal/ you plural);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿comemos?

**Please see grammar topic below, Verbs

Verbs
A verb is a 'doing' word which conveys:
  • What action takes place in a sentence
  • Who does that action
  • When that action occurs.
In addition, the verb may also convey the mood or feelings of the speaker toward the action which takes place. The verb may, for example, indicate whether the speaker is stating a fact, expressing a wish or indeed giving an order.

Verb Conjugation
Please see notes on conjugation* at the end of this post.

Imperative

    1. Regular Verbs Ending in -ar

TRABAJAR
(TO WORK)

AFFIRMATIVE
NEGATIVE
You
TRABAJA
NO TRABAJES
You
Usted*
TRABAJE
NO TRABAJE
You
Vosotros**
TRABAJAD
NO TRABAJÉIS
You
Ustedes***
TRABAJEN
NO TRABAJEN

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

    2. Regular Verbs Ending in -er

COMER
(TO EAT)

AFFIRMATIVE
NEGATIVE
You
COME
NO COMAS
You
Usted*
COMA
NO COMA
You
Vosotros**
COMED
NO COMÁIS
You
Ustedes***
COMAN
NO COMAN

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

    3. Regular Verbs Ending in -ir
Subject
VIVIR
(TO LIVE)


AFFIRMATIVE
NEGATIVE
You
VIVE
NO VIVAS
You
Usted*
VIVA
NO VIVA
You
Vosotros**
VIVID
NO VIVÁIS
You
Ustedes***
VIVAN
NO VIVAN

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

* Verb Conjugation Notes
It is worth remembering once more that in its basic form (infinitive), a Spanish verb is just a general 'doing' word. In that form, a verb simply indicates an action and nothing else. If we want a verb to be more specific about the action in a sentence, we need to conjugate it. It is only when conjugated that the verb indicates:
  • Who does the action
  • When the action takes place
  • The mood/ attitude of the speaker towards the action

The conjugation tables above refer to using conjugation to establish who does the action. What follows below are some notes on establishing when the action takes place and the mood/ attitude of the speaker towards the action.

Subjunctive Mood
The use of subjunctive mood is disappearing English. Nowadays is often viewed as an old and unfashionable form of the language.

In contrast, the use of subjunctive mood is very much alive and in everyday use in Spanish. This widespread use of subjunctive mood tends to be the bane of many a learner of Spanish from the English speaking world.

The concept of subjunctive mood is perhaps best illustrated by contrasting its use against the use of indicative mood with examples in English. The following are a couple of examples which should serve that purpose:
  • Indicative mood (“Peter eats an apple”).- Indicative mood is commonly used to make statements of facts or positive beliefs such as this one. As can be seen in the sample sentence (in quotes above), the speaker makes a clear and unambiguous statement of a fact (Peter eats an apple).
  • Subjunctive mood (“Peter would eat an apple if he were hungry”).- In contrast with indicative mood, subjunctive mood is commonly used to make statements indicating hypothetical or non-fact actions. As can be seen in the sample sentence (in quotes), in this case the speaker sees the action of eating an apple as something hypothetical, something which may or may not happen (Peter would eat an apple... if he were hungry).
Verb Tenses
Verb tenses relate to setting the time period (when) during which the action of the verb takes place. Basic times (periods) for Spanish verb actions are:
  • The past (before now)
  • The present (now)
  • The future (after now)
Each Spanish verb tense corresponds to one of those basic time periods. In other words choosing a verb tense places the action of the verb in one of those basic periods and determines when the action takes place.

Now you should practise the use of the imperative of regular verbs with some examples of your own.

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