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:
- tú (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:
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