Let's say I want to ask them to close a window

To my friend: cierres la ventana?

To a stranger: podría cerrar la ventana por favor?

Is this it in a nutshell?

And also -- what are other the most common ways?


"cierres la ventana?" isn't correct because it's not imperative, is it?

  • Lambie's answer has lots of nice cultural touches. Some feedback for your first proposal: good, but notice that cerrar ends in -ar, so with your choices are (a) ask a question, for added politeness, and this is the indicative: ¿Cierras? (b) use the imperative, i.e. give an order, and this is conjugated: Cierra (c) use the subjunctive (a bit more unusual, but valid): Que cierres. Notice that for the subjunctive here, you have to include "que." Sep 22 '18 at 3:30
  • @aparente001, what does "Que cierres." mean in english literally?
    – nylypej
    Sep 22 '18 at 13:20
  • All of @aparente001 suggestions translate into the same in English. Can you clarify what you mean here by "literally"?
    – mdewey
    Sep 22 '18 at 14:35
  • ¡Que (la) o (me la) cierres¡ [expletive deleted]. Close that window and Close the window for me. The pronouns can be left out or put in.
    – Lambie
    Sep 22 '18 at 15:47
  • @Lambie but cierres isn't the "tu" imperative form of cerrar
    – nylypej
    Sep 22 '18 at 16:05

Formal: ¿Tendría [Ud] la bondad de cerrar la ventana?, por favor.

Less formal but nice: Oye, ¿me cierras la ventana?

Oye is to grab someone's attention when you know them. Hey or Listen. [Yes,I know it does not literally mean to listen.] The reflexive form is used to emphasize that it is for you. Listen, can you close the window for me.

cerrar is close the window. cerrar(se) would be used to emphasize for me, for them,etc.

You can use also Oiga with or without [usted] to show annoyance in the imperative: Oiga, ciérreme ésta ventana, por favor. Listen, close that window for me.

And to show a certain cariño, you can make it: [Oye o mira], ciérrame ésta ventanita.

Even when the window is not large. And frankly,I do not know how to show that in English except by adding something like sweetie. Not everyone will agree with this, I suppose.


And yet, this depends on the region you are.

I say, for example:

—Cierra la ventana.

Nothing else when it comes to speaking to a friend or family member; however, if you are talking to a stranger, I will probably say:

—Hola, ¿puede(s) cerrar la ventaja?
—Disculpe(a), ¿podría(s) cerrar la ventana? (More formal.)

  • How much ¿puede cerrar la ventaja? and ¿puedes cerrar la ventaja? are different when it comes to making a request?
    – nylypej
    Sep 21 '18 at 23:51
  • The former is used in a formal context; that is when you refer to someone as usted. The latter is used in an informal context, which means referring to someone as and this, in other words, means tutear.
    – Schwale
    Sep 21 '18 at 23:56
  • I know when tu and usted are used. My question - how much of a difference between them?
    – nylypej
    Sep 22 '18 at 1:00
  • @nylypej the difference is just your relationship with the addressee which you say you understand, nothing more complicated than that.
    – mdewey
    Sep 22 '18 at 12:27
  • I do not think this is regional. Formality and informality is pretty much the same across all Spanish varieties for cerrar la ventana.
    – Lambie
    Sep 22 '18 at 18:09

Lambie's answer has lots of nice cultural touches. I will focus here on providing feedback for your first proposal. Good! But notice that cerrar ends in -ar, so with your choices are

(a) ask a question, for added politeness, and this is the indicative:

¿Cierras la ventana, por favor?

(b) use the imperative, i.e. give an order, and this is conjugated as follows:

Cierra la ventana, por favor.

(c) use the subjunctive (a bit more unusual, but valid):

Que cierres la ventana.

Notice that for the subjunctive, you have to include "que."

My focus in this post is to write something clear and simple about the conjugation of the verb, so that you will understand the various possible corrections that you could make to your sentence, which had a small but important mistake ("To my friend: cierres la ventana?"). To learn more about the myriad uses of the subjunctive, I suggest that you take a look at the existing Q&A pages on that topic, and then ask about anything that's not yet clear. The only reason I included it in my list was that you used "cierres" in your post, and I wanted to make sure you are aware that it's not wrong, it just wasn't used correctly, and with a small correction, it will be fine. (However, it is rather unusual in this context, and I wouldn't actually suggest that you use that as your jumping off place to start learning about the subjunctive.)

  • I would like to add re the cierres. In a speaking situation, "Que cierras la ventana." (and subjunctive uses like this one) implies "Le digo que". Or whatever the pronoun is. [Os digo] Que me dejéis tranquilo. Same idea. And it can get ruder.....:)
    – Lambie
    Sep 22 '18 at 17:57
  • The subjunctive can be triggered without que: cierre la ventana.
    – Schwale
    Sep 22 '18 at 18:11

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