Using que + El Presente de Subjuntivo to express a wish/command

There is a specific structure in Spanish used to express:

  • a command
  • a wish for something to happen

We use this formula in different contexts:

1. to express a wish to someone directly

¡Que seas feliz!
Be happy!

¡Que ganéis el partido!
Win the match!

¡Que pase usted una Navidad estupenda!
Have a wonderful Christmas!

¡Que disfruten la comida!
Enjoy your meal!

As you can see, you can direct this wish to:

  • (you informal singular) e.g. seas
  • vosotros (you informal plural) e.g. ganéis
  • usted (you formal singular) e.g pase
  • ustedes (you formal plural) e.g. disfruten

All of them use El Presente de Subjuntivo. Although the idea of "wish" is not explicitly stated in the sentence, this is conveyed in the structure. It is as if we say: "Quiero que... / Espero que...".

2. to insist on a previously unsuccessful command

When you have asked someone to do something but your request is ignored, this structure can be used to reinforce the command. This is very commonly used by parents to get the children do something (after having said it a few times!)

¡Susana, que te comas el pescado!
Susana, [I said] eat your fish! 

¡Antonio, que me dejes en paz!
Antonio, [I said] leave me alone! 

 3. to make an indirect/soft command through a third party

When a command is made through a third party, referring to someone else, we use this same structure. The verb is conjugated in the third person singular or plural. This is considered a softer command compared to a direct command using the imperative.

¡Que te deje su dirección y teléfono! Yo lo llamaré después.
Have him give you his address and phone number. I will call him later.

¡Que el cliente pague su deuda!
Have the client pay his debt!

¡Que me reserven una plaza de garaje!
Have them book a parking space for me!

The person who ultimately is the recipient of the command will be named if it is clear who the speaker is referring to (e.g. el cliente) or go unnamed if the speaker is referring to a more general subject (e.g. que me reserven = someone, whoever, in the hotel, for example.)

For other formulas used to express commands see also:

Examples and resources

¡Que el cliente pague su deuda!
Have the client pay his debt!


¡Susana, que te comas el pescado!
Susana, [I said] eat your fish! 


¡Que te deje su dirección y teléfono! Yo lo llamaré después.
Have him give you his address and phone number. I will call him later.


¡Antonio, que me dejes en paz!
Antonio, [I said] leave me alone! 


¡Que disfruten la comida!
Enjoy your meal!


¡Que pase usted una Navidad estupenda!
Have a wonderful Christmas!


¡Que ganéis el partido!
Win the match!


¡Que me reserven una plaza de garaje!
Have them book a parking space for me!


¡Que seas feliz!
Be happy!


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 2 answers

Is there a difference between “ten un buen día” using the positive command firm for tú and adding Que to the phrase which triggers the subjunctive?

Asked 2 months ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hola Heather

There is no difference in meaning, but I would say that we use the formula with que followed by the present subjunctive a lot more. Personally I would only use "Que tengas...".

Saludos

Inma

Is there a difference between “ten un buen día” using the positive command firm for tú and adding Que to the phrase which triggers the subjunctive?

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Is there a difference between “Ten un buen día

Asked 2 months ago

Esto es un error.  Por favor borre esto.

Is there a difference between “Ten un buen día

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