Tag Archives: spanish sentences

Mellowing Out Your Requests in Spanish:

How to Say Things in Spanish… Politely

Just as in English, in Spanish there are ways to mellow out your requests. Of course, intonation and body language are important when you want to appear friendly and amable (amiable). In addition, certain ways of speaking can help you to say things in Spanish that are really requests or commands, but at the same time show that you are muy amable (very nice).

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Lets begin with querer (to want). You may have learned the present tense conjugation:

(yo) quiero — (I) want
(tú) quieres — (you) want (familiar)
el, ella, usted quiere — he, she wants and you want (formal)
nosotros queremos — we want
ellos, ellas, ustedes quieren — they want and you [plural] want

In a restaurant you might say:

Quiero una limonada. — I want a glass of lemonade.

If a friend asks if she can offer you something, you might say:

Quisiera un vaso de agua. — I might like a glass of water.

[quisiera is a past subjunctive form: quisiera, quisieras, quisiera, quisiéramos, quisieran]

If what you want is not a thing, but for the other person to do something, a similar strategy may be used by putting the request in question form:

¿Quieres pasarme (alcanzarme) la salsa (por favor)? — Will you pass (reach me) the salsa, please?
¿Quieres acompañarme al cine? — Will you go with me to a movie?

To be even mellower, use the conditional form of querer [conjugation: quería, querías, quería, queríamos, querían]:

¿Querías pasarme la salsa? — Would you like to pass me the salsa?
¿Querías acompañarme al cine? — Would you mind going to a movie with me?

Another way to soften a request is with a lead-in:

A ver si... — Let's see if...
Hágame el favor de... — Do me the favor of...
Favor de... — Please...

Try these Spanish sentences:

A ver si me traes una cerveza. — Let's see if you could bring me a beer.
Hágame el favor de cerrar la ventana. — Do me the favor of closing the window.
Favor de pagar la cuenta en la caja. — Please pay the bill at the cash register.

And here’s how to say things in Spanish even to a complete stranger:

Disculpe la molestia pero... — Forgive the bother, but...

More Spanish sentences:

Disculpe la molestia, pero creo que este es mi asiento asignado. — Pardon me, but I think this is my assigned seat.
Disculpe la molestia, pero quiero ir a la Plaza Central. — Pardon me, but I want to go the Central Plaza [and I don't know how to get there - implied].

A third way to say things in Spanish with amabilidad (kindness) is to tack something on the end, such as ¿no?, ¿eh?, ¿se puede? (can it be done?), ¿puedes? (do you want to?):

Vamos a tomar un cafecito, ¿se puede? — Let's get a cup of coffee, okay?
Préstame tu diccionario, ¿puedes? — Lend me your dictionary, will you?
Manejas, ¿no? — You're going to drive, okay?
No grites, ¿eh? — Don't shout, okay?

Finally, remember that the diminutive suffix on nouns doesn’t just convey smallness, but possibly also endearment or softening of a request for something. For example, all over the Spanish speaking world, people are being asked to wait with this utterance:

¡Espere un momentito! — [Please] wait just a moment!
¡Compre estas galletitas riquísimas! — Buy these extraordinarily delicious cookies!

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¡Hasta lueguito!

How to Say “What Day Is It?” in Spanish

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Anyone who plans to speak Spanish will need to refer to the day and date of some event. You may want to see if a memo or a newspaper edition is current. You may want to issue an invitation or specify the day and date of a meeting. Possibly you may even wake up some morning and say to no one in particular…

¿Hoy qué día es? — (Today) What day is it?

Los días de la semana son: The days of the week are:
lunes Monday
martes Tuesday
miércoles Wednesday
jueves Thursday
viernes Friday
sábado Saturday
domingo Sunday

Hoy es lunes. — Today is Monday.
Hoy es martes. — Today is Tuesday
Hoy es miércoles. — Today is Wednesday
Hoy es jueves. — Today is Thursday
Hoy es viernes. — Today is Friday
Hoy es sábado. — Today is Saturday
Hoy es domingo. — Today is Sunday

Notice that in Spanish the days are not written with a capital letter as they are in English. This is also true for the months.

Los meses del año son: The months of the year are:
enero January
febrero February
marzo March
abril April
mayo May
junio June
julio July
agosto August
septiembre, setiembre September
octubre Octubre
noviembre November
diciembre December

Both days and months take the masculine article el or un when an article is required. But you could say:

Estamos en enero. — We're in January (this is January).
Estamos en febrero. — This is February.

…and so on. These are non-specific utterances, treating months as though they were like seasons, or temporadas:

Estamos en verano. — We're in summer (this is summertime).
Estamos en invierno. — This is winter.
Estamos en primavera. — This is springtime.
Estamos en otoño. — This is fall.

If you mean to be specific about the date, you would ask:

¿En cuál fecha estamos? — On what date are we?


¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy? — What is the date today?

The response requires additional grammatical particles.

Estamos a dos de abril. — We're on the second of April.

Unlike in English, all the days of the month except the first use cardinal or counting numbers. Only the first of the month is said in Spanish with the ordinal form.

el primero de abril — the first of April (April 1st)
el dos de abril — the second of April (April 2nd)
el tres de abril — the third of April (April 3rd)
el treinta de abril — April thirtieth (30th)

This is true for all the months.

Suppose the question is about a recurring event:

¿Cuándo vas a la lección de piano? — When do you go to your piano lesson?
Voy los lunes a las tres. — I go Mondays at three.

A one-time event:

Tengo una cita médica el cuatro de octubre. — I have a medical appointment on the 4th of October.
Tengo una cita médica el cuatro. — I have a medical appointment on the fourth.

Note—in the Spanish sentence above—that where English time expression may use the preposition “on”, no preposition is used in Spanish.

If you want to specify the year, use de:

Gabriel García Márquez nació en Colombia el seis de marzo de 1928. — Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia on March 6, 1928.

When you say a year in Spanish, you read out all the place values, so 1928 is:

mil novecientos veintiocho — one thousand nine hundred twenty-eight (we'd say: nineteen twenty-eight).

In other words, in Spanish—years—there is no grouping of digits into tens, as in English.

Finally, for today:

El siglo XXI (veintiuno) es el siglo actual. — The twenty-first century is the present century.

La inauguración de la administración actual tomó lugar el veinte de enero de dos mil nueve. — The inauguration of the present administration took place on January 20, 2009.

Next time we’ll talk about other aspects of time: seasons, the time of day, parts of the day…

Aprovéchense del tiempo.Don’t waste time!

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How’s the Weather? – in Spanish: part 1

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There is one topic that people can always talk about–the weather. If you are learning Spanish you may want to prepare yourself for a casual weather conversation. You can get ready to ask and answer questions about how the weather is currently, or what the forecast–el pronóstico–says it will be. You may want to be able to excuse yourself from certain events on account of the weather. Perhaps you would like to know more about places where the weather is characteristically to your liking; that is, places that have a certain climate.

Our purpose here is to provide you with some useful terms and phrases you can put to use in conversational situations about the weather.

As a start, lets learn some expressions with the main weather verb: hacer ‘to make or do.’

Hace frío. — It's cold.
Hace calor. — It's hot.
Hace sol. — It's sunny.
Hace fresco. — It's cool.
Hace viento. — It's windy.
Hace buen tiempo. — It is good weather.
Hace mal tiempo. — It is bad weather.

Llover is the word for the verb ‘to rain’, and nevar means ‘to snow’. As in English these verbs are used impersonally.

Llueve. — It rains.
Nieva. — It snows.
Truena. (tronar) — It thunders.
Va a llover. — It's going to rain.
Va a nevar. — It's going to snow.

Some weather conditions can go with hay, an impersonal verb form related to haber ‘to be or exist.’

Hay nubes. — There are clouds.
Hay sol. — There is sun.
Hay llovizna. — There is drizzle.
Hay niebla. — There is fog.
Hay neblina. — There is low fog.
Hay brisa. — There is a breeze, light wind.
Hay relámpago. — There is lightning.

An ongoing condition may be communicated using the verb estar ‘to be (in a condition).’

Está nublado. — It is cloudy.
Está lloviendo. — It is raining.
Está nevando. — It is snowing.

Note that a verb you will not find in weather expressions is ser ‘to be.’ It is worth pointing that out as English weather expressions are formed around ‘is.’

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In the next Spanish ‘how to’ lesson–How’s the Weather? – in Spanish: part 2, we’ll see how some of the weather expressions work in conversational exchange.