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Lesson Plan: Teaching 2nd Year Spanish Students to Use the Subjunctive to Form Indirect Commands

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 10/10/2012

The following article describes a lesson plan for teaching indirect commands in Spanish to second-year students. Also included is an example to illustrate the indirect command construction.

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    Definition

    Begin by providing a definition of the term "indirect command" to your second-year Spanish students. Indirect commands are commands given from the speaker through a third party to the commanded. For example, a mother might say to her oldest child, "Let your little brother color his own picture." The indirect command color your own picture is given to the younger sibling through the command to the older sibling let your little brother color his own picture. Indirect commands in Spanish often translate into commands that contain the verbs let, have, and may in English. For example:

    • Let the dog go outside.
    • Have your teacher call me.
    • May your trip go as planned.

    Indirect commands allow Spanish speakers to refer to a third person outside the immediate conversation.

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    Formation

    Next teach your second-year Spanish students to form indirect commands. The formation of the Spanish indirect command is as follows:

    Que + present subjunctive = indirect command

    The endings for Spanish verbs with -ar and -er/-ir endings are as follows in the present subjunctive mood:

    Spanish Present Subjunctive For example:

    • Que vengan a las ocho. "Have them come at eight."
    • Que entran ellos ahora. "Let them in now."
    • Que no entran ellos ahora. "Do not let them in now."
    • Que vaya bien. "May it go well."

    Note that the subject follows the conjugated verb in the subjunctive clause when the subject is explicitly stated.

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    Use

    Finally explain to your classroom of second-year Spanish students the uses of indirect Spanish commands. In Spanish, indirect commands combine two aspects of the subjunctive mood: expressing commands and expressing wishes. Therefore, the indirect command formation of que + present subjunctive is primarily used in two situations:

    1. To give commands through a third party.
    2. To express wishes or hopes.

    For example, the following Spanish sentences express indirect commands:

    • Que me traiga Mario sus archivos. "Have Mario bring me the files."
    • Que me llame él. "Have him call me."

    The following two Spanish sentences express wishes or hopes through the que + present subjunctive construction:

    • May you live forever. "May you live forever."
    • Que Dios te bendiga. "May God bless you."

    Although indirect commands must be used when giving commands to third persons (él, ella, ellos, ellas), but they can also be used to give commands to second persons (, vosotros, Usted, Ustedes). Second person commands given through the que + present subjunctive construction are less emphatic than commands given through the imperative mood. For example:

    • Ponte un sombrero. "Put on a hat."
    • Que pongas un sombrero. "I would like you to put on a hat."