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Better Call Saul #2

Context: Jimmy is ordering flowers to impress some clients, but he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money.

Jimmy: Use only flowers that look expensive but, you know, aren’t.

Spanish Subtitle: Usen flores que parezcan caras, pero que no lo sean.

TOPIC #1: COMMANDS/IMPERATIVE

I haven’t made a video about commands or the imperative yet. But when I do, I know the angle I’m going to take. The way I’ve always looked at them myself. But I really think the imperative should be taught AFTER the subjunctive is introduced.

Because commands in Spanish, are basically the subjunctive. It’s a way to speak in the subjunctive (and carry all the meaning that goes with it) in short, punchy sentences. So NOT with two clauses, normally a requirement for the subjunctive!

“Usen flores!” means “Use flowers!” like “You all use flowers!” It’s a formal, ustedes command.

The normal way to say “you all use flowers” or “you all are using flowers” is “usan flowers”.

But in the subjunctive, it’s “no usen”. “Usen” comes from “usar” -- an AR verb, “to use”.

Normally, AR verbs have endings that start with A. But not in the subjunctive. And most the time, not with imperatives/commands either (because they’re basically the same as the subjunctive).

Here’s what I see:

USE only flowers... (original)
= USEN flores (Spanish translation, using the imperative)
= I want you TO USE only flowers... (literal meaning)
= Quiero que USEN flores... (Spanish translation, using the subjunctive)

See how it’s “usen” in the imperative AND the subjunctive?

And a command really is like saying “I want you to...” -- a phrase that almost always (if not always) causes the subjunctive to be used.

If you don’t understand the subjunctive, that won’t make much sense to you. That’s why I suggest nailing the subjunctive FIRST. If you do that, commands are easy--free almost.

But if you try to learn THIS first, you’ll just be memorizing more endings basically.

Of course, there IS other stuff going on. But that’s beyond the scope of this Dosis Diaria.

I’ll make a video on the imperative and commands one day for sure. So ask any questions you’ve got--they’ll help me make a better video.

TOPIC #2: PARECER

“Parezcan” comes from the verb “parecer” -- a great word! I’ve always loved it. “Parecer” can be used so many different ways--but all of them have the same central, core idea: to seem [like].

When Jimmy said “use only flowers that LOOK expensive” -- he was saying to use only flowers that “seem” expensive--or “appear” expensive.

That’s how “parecer” is used! You’ll see “parecer” out there a lot--in many different forms. So, keep an eye out for it!

...that LOOK expensive...
= ...that APPEAR expensive...
= ...that SEEM expensive...
= ...que PAREZCAN caras...

TOPIC #3: THE SUBJUNCTIVE & CLAUSES

The subjunctive, with at least one exception, is used when there are two clauses in one sentence. Or more. This sentence has three clauses.

Usen flores que parezcan caras, pero que no lo sean.

Clause one: Usen flores
Clause two: [que] parezcan caras
Clause three: [pero que] no lo sean.

If you read Topic #1 in this Dosis Diaria, you know that speaking more literally, it’s actually FOUR clauses!

QUIERO QUE usen flores que parezcan caras, pero que no lo sean.

Clause one: Quiero que
Clause two: usen flores
Clause three: [que] parezcan caras
Clause four: [pero que] no lo sean.

All I did was add “Quiero que...” to the beginning. But that “quiero que” (which was implied anyway, the reason I added it) applies to all three clauses that follow.

“Parezcan” (subjunctive, from “parecer”) and “sean” (subjunctive, from “ser”) are used for the same reason as “usen” is used (subjunctive, from “usar”).

Jimmy WANTS them to USE flowers that APPEAR expensive but AREN’T.

When Jimmy wants all those verbs to happen--he has NO CLUE if they actually will. He can’t know.

When we desire or command somebody to do something, we have no clue if they’ll actually do it. That’s why the subjunctive is almost always required with desires and commands.

In this case, even though “I want...” wasn’t REALLY in the sentence--the sentiment WAS! And that’s what matters!

USE only flowers that LOOK expensive but, you know, AREN’T.

= I want you to USE flowers that LOOK expensive but, you know AREN’T.

= I want you to USE flowers and I want them to LOOK expensive but, I don’t want them TO BE [expensive].

= Quiero que USEN flores y quiero que PAREZCAN caras pero, sabes, no quiero que lo SEAN [caras].

= Quiero que USEN flores que PAREZCAN caras pero, que no lo SEAN.

The Subjunctive: An Introduction [Topic]

TOPIC #4: ADJECTIVES

In Spanish, it’s a little weird at first, but the adjectives have to match the nouns they describe--both the number (singular/plural) and the gender.

In this sentence, “expensive” has to match “flowers” which is “las flores” -- feminine and plural.

one expensive flower
= una flor cara

two expensive flowers
= dos flores caras

It gets a LITTLE more confusing when the adjective isn’t right next to the noun, like in this example.

flowers that look EXPENSIVE
≠ flores que parezcan CARO (wrong!)
= flowers that look like EXPENSIVE FLOWERS (more literal translation)
= flores que parezcan CARAS

As always, once we GET LITERAL, it becomes clear quickly, which form of “caro” is correct--in this case, “caras” -- to match “las flores”.

Spanish Adjectives [Spanish Quickie]

ALL TOGETHER NOW

Usen flores que parezcan caras, pero que no lo sean

= Use flowers that seem expensive, but that are not expensive.

= Use only flowers that look expensive but, you know, aren’t.

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