S210 Second-Year Spanish Composition  F. Jehle


Assignment: Formal Commands


Assignment: Compose a set of instructions or directions, dealing with a specific task, using the formal commands or reflexive type substitutes (as explained below). Examples include:

  1. How to do something such as: make, test, and fly a paper airplane; ride a bicycle/motorcycle; drive a car; change a tire; write a term paper; put film in a camera and use the camera to take a picture; use a computer program or operating system; create the perfect wardrobe; put on makeup; succeed in college; form the present subjunctive or the preterit indicative in Spanish, etc.
  2. A recipe: how to prepare and serve a dish.
  3. Instructions on how to assemble an item (and check to insure that everything is working properly).

Structure and comments:

  1. Title. Be sure to include one. Remember the rules for capitalization: only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.  [You also remember that nationalities, names of languages, and the names of months and days of the week are normally NOT capitalized in Spanish.]
  2. Introduction. You ordinarily need SOMETHING here; even assembly instructions should incorporate an introduction [for example, you've seen such introductions as “Congratulations! You have just purchased the world's finest whiffledopper. With reasonable care it will last you a lifetime; however, before attempting to ...”]
  3. The instructions proper. Before you start writing, THINK and organize your material in a logical fashion. You might have to consider such steps as:
    1. Getting and verifying the implements and parts or ingredients needed.
    2. Dividing the task up into sub-tasks or steps which must be done in a specific order.
    3. Checking the results of the each step before proceeding onto the next.
  4. The conclusion. It can vary, depending on the task; for example, it might be an expression of satisfaction for a job well done, further instructions (e.g., what to do if all fails or if some of the parts are missing or defective), or suggestions for use, further enjoyment, etc.
  5. Additional comments: To whom is this set of instructions directed? This question will determine what command forms you use (formal/familiar, singular/plural); for this assignment you should select a topic that will allow you to use the formal (usted/ustedes) form(s). The formal forms would normally be used to address the general public.

    Alternate construction: You should also be aware of the fact that such instructions are often done using the subjunctive mood with reflexive pronoun se; you may choose to use this construction instead of the usted/ustedes forms for your composition. This construction is similar to that of the passive se. Note that: 1) the subjunctive is used, and 2) this construction cannot be used with a verb used reflexively for some other reason. In the examples given below pay particular attention to the agreement when a plural subject/object is used.

    Añádase una cucharadita de sal al líquido.    Add a teaspoon of salt to the liquid.
    Añádanse dos cucharaditas de sal al líquido. Add two teaspoons of salt to the liquid.
    No se quite del fuego hasta que se espese el líquido. Don't remove from the heat until the liquid has thickened.

Special note regarding recipes (recetas):

Other vocabulary for recipes:


Fred F. Jehle <jehle@ipfw.edu>
URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/s210/commud3.htm