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Thursday, January 29, 2015 (read 1080 times)

The Subjunctive for the Imperative - Part II

by Lauris

Let’s continue with the imperative and how teaching it can help us make a smooth transition into the present subjunctive, not only in terms of how it’s formed but also as far as the principles of its usages.

So how is the imperative constructed in the plural form (in other words vosotros)? Keeping in mind the fundamental notion that language tends to evolve towards its most compact form, we see that all you have to do is take the verb in its full infinitive form and change the final –R for a –D, and that’s true for all verbs, no exceptions. It’s also undeniable that Spanish speakers, those with an interest in the language, create new words and uses, which gives the language its essential vivacity and which keeps academies of the language busy deciding which to formally accept. Today you hear more and more people using the infinitive instead of the imperative conjugation of vosotros, in other words you’ll hear people say things like “Por favor, hablar más bajo” instead of “hablad más bajo”… This use of the infinitive, which is for now “incorrect” will most likely be acceptable in a not-so-distant future, because it perfectly adapts to the economy principle in linguistics, which is based on maintaining maximum communication capability with the minimum number of elements possible.  

Now that leaves us with just the imperative in the polite usted form. You can start by explaining that usted, ustedes, and all the subjects share the same form in the negative imperative, with the corresponding conjugated endings for each: -s for tú, -Ø for él/ella, -is for vosotros/as and –n for ustedes.

Next, we can take usted in the negative imperative and continue maintaining the premise that we need the most compact form possible. We quickly find that that we’ve already used it for the third person present. So that only leaves us with one option: what’s the most compact form of the present, not including the third person singular? The first person, yo! At this point, all we have to do is make a minor change to avoid confusion. Given that the yo form usually ends in –o, what we do is, for –AR ending verbs, which usually have an A vowel, substitute the A for an E, doing the opposite with –ER and –IR verbs, with usually have an E, which we switch for an A.

HABLAR - hablo - hable; LEER - leo -lea; VIVIR - vivo -viva.

And with irregular verbs in the first person present singular:

TENER - tengo - tenga, SALIR - salgo - salga, etc.

We’ve prepared a chart that you can use to help you explain all this to your class.

So as we can see, to form the imperative of ustedes, all you have to do is add an –N (which characterizes the third person in the plural) to the usted form. The same thing occurs with the negative forms, keeping in mind the fact that the verbs in these forms must be preceded by the negative adverb NO.

Now we’ll take a look at how this leads us to the subjunctive present… but we’ll have to wait until next week. Patience!

Keywords: present subjunctive spanish,imperative spanish,spanish present subjunctive,spanish imperative,present subjunctive in spanish,imperative form spanish


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« Next Article: The Subjunctive for the Imperative - Part III

» Previous Article: The Subjunctive for the Imperative: An Unorthodox Explanation I