1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "¿Por qué no se lavan ustedes…

"¿Por qué no se lavan ustedes la cara?"

Translation:Why don't you wash your faces?

June 14, 2018



Ustedes plural. Faces plural. La cara singular. Am I missing something here?


That's how it's said in Spanish. I think that the idea is that each one of them is washing his or her own face. Each person has only one face, so they don't make it plural. Teeth on the other hand would be plural since each person has multiple teeth. It's different than how we think of it in English.

If you had "se lavan las caras" plural, it might imply that they were washing each other's faces.


In french it is the same, you use the singular in that case


Confusing. Does a single person have multiple faces?


Sometimes, they do.


Why is it not "las caras"?? I understand each person has one face but you're talking about several people and several faces.


Because that is how it's done. It is understood that each has one face, if everyone had several dresses to wash, they would be plural.

This is like saying, "would everyone wash their face?" You don't need to say, "Would everyone wash their faces?"


Why sometimes it's lavarSE and others SE lava...? Are they interchangeables?

Lavarse la cara o/y se lavar la cara ?


The se (and all other object pronouns) has to go immediately before a conjugated verb: yo me lavo, tú te lavas, ustedes se lavan.

UNLESS your sentence also contains an infinitive or a present participle. Then you have the choice of putting the object pronoun immediately before the conjugated verb OR attaching it to the end of the second form.
Se van a lavar la cara. OR Van a lavarse la cara.
Present participle:
Se están lavando la cara. OR Están lavándose la cara.


Marcy, I wish I had a collection of all your posts! You are one of a few commentators here that have been very valuable to my education. Thank you!


So True. For me too.


por que no.....why don't you wash all your faces? after all, we're speaking to more than one face, aren't we? please give me another way to look at this, thx in advance


That's not how ustedes works even if you choose to add "all" in English, which is never required. The all is part of you all, or as they say in the South y'all. It has nothing to do with the direct object face(s). That's especially true since, as has been discussed here, Spanish uses a singular object when talking to multiple people about something each has necessarily only one of, like a face. It's not talking about all of the faces, it's telling each to wash their face.


No pudieron lavarse ustedes la cara No se lavaron ustedes la cara Lavarse is a reflexive verb with se me te nos as objects that would be yourself, themselves, ourselves, myself. Look up "se" through any search engine as that is the tricky one. In English, Native speakers always say their pronouns most of the time and is the reason why they don't say "We already showered ourselves" the pronoun we implys the reflexive action, but in Spanish, pronouns are optional. And for that reason the reflexive objects were born as a means of being able to distinguish between reflexive actions and direct actions. Therefore whenever you have a verb where the subject performs the action upon itself use one of the appropriate reflexive objects. To wash one's self Lavarse; me lavo, te lavas, Él /ella /usted (ellos /ellas/ustedes) se lava (se lavan), nos lavamos.


'Por qué ustedes no se lavan la cara' means the same thing, and is easier to understand...but DUO...sigh!


I was wondering why they put this as the recommendation.


Why is "do you not" not equivalent to "don't you"? I was marked wrong for using this equivalent phrase.


Each person has only one face, thus "face" in English should be singular too.


I agree with that


I can't imagine any circumstances under which I would pose this question to people with whom I have a FORMAL relationship (ustedes).


But ustedes is used for "you" (plural, familiar) in many Spanish speaking countries. Only Spain uses vosotros



The english should be singular also.


How many faces doe one of them have? Well, "wash all of them, please!" I wash my face / You wash your face // they wash their face ... Now did I get it wrong?


We wash our faces? Normal use is to plural face to faces when talking of/in a group. Rules in English are not always so rigid


The answer to your question (Now did I get it wrong?) is "no, in Spanish but yes, in English." (Spanish = la cara, English = their faces)


The Spanish sentence is grammatically correct; the English translation is not.

The singular, 'la cara', is used in the Spanish sentence because 'they' are a group, a singular entity.

The problem English speakers are cuing into is that while plurality is properly indicated by the verb tense in the Spanish sentence, it is not properly indicated in the English sentence. One could say: "Why don't you - all - wash your face?" or "Why don't you - children - wash your face?" The people in this sentence belong to a group, a singular entity, and cannot be referenced by the plural 'faces'. If the plural noun were used in this instance, group members could turn to one another and joke, "Hey! Why don't you go wash your faces!" Ha ha. The plural noun requires a different sentence structure, e.g., "Why are your faces not washed?"


why not "por que no se lavan la cara ustedes?"


It would be Por que ustedes no se lavan la cara if you were trying to move the ustedes around.


Why can't ustedes be placed at the end of the sentence?


I listen over and over and the speaker does not pronounce the "s" on ustedes.


Stop Duo stop! You need to update your English translation!


Wouldn't se lavan mean they wash? I think this should be 'Why don't they wash their faces?'


Se lavan can be they wash or you (guys) wash.
Se lavan ustedes can only be you (guys) wash.


So the sentence here would be: Ustedes se lavan...?


Se lavan can also mean (in southern USA terms) ya'll wash.


If it is la cara then it can't become plural and mean faces!


No. It seems it's the rule in Spanish to say 'the' for body part(s), like 'la cara', 'las manos', 'los pies', etc.
BTW, here we assume talking to plural of you, so your question should be 'Not su cara?', because plural-your/their is 'su' for singlar noun (and sus for plural noun), which is the same as singular-respected-your (I mean, possessive case of usted)/his/her.


This is not a natural english sentence


Why not? I don't see anything "unnatural" about "Why don't you [all/guys] wash your faces? That is Duo's translation.


each of us washes his face? and not their faces?


Wonderful sentence, When presented to the English Speaker the word face is confusing when not pluralised, but that's not the case here with Spanish as logic flows one way and LA cara as such would be applied as each person's face. Explains why as of late, I have been hearing "Everyone in the room picks up his coat".


I don't understand why this isn't in tu form. This sentence is weird talking to a group. As many of them are to me. I'm not sure if I'm missing something. But from my understanding they are over using ustedes and putting in very strange places. What am I missing?


ustedes means "you" (plural, familiar) as well as "you" (plural, familiar), except in Spain (where vosotros is used for "you" (plural, familiar)).

Imagine you are the parent of multiple children. I'm sure you could then imagine saying this sentence to multiple familiar people.


Would this also be correct if ustedes changed place? eg Por que ustedes no se lavan la cara?


why is por que ustedes no se lavan la cara incorrecT????


The faster pronunciation was unclear and misleading.


Por qué nunca encontramos los verbos en la segunda forma persona plural? Esta frase en España sería algo como "por qué no os lavais la cara?". Duolingo no va a enseñar eso nunca?


Many people have a double face. Or faces?


I know lots of people who are 2 faced!


I may be wrong but it seems to me whether it is in Spanish or any other language each individual has only one face ???


Yes. But that doesn't make the rules the same in both languages. Your philosophy is the one used in Spanish. English uses the plural because there are still multiple faces being discussed if you are talking to multiple people. You can judge one position to make more sense if you choose. But that doesn't affect the other one.


This sentence doesn't make any sense. One person has one face and not more faces


This is a somewhat tricky translation because Spanish and English treat this differently. You will notice that the Spanish does, indeed, use the singular, la cara. But they also use ustedes, which means that they aren't just talking to one "you", they are talking to at least two people. In Spanish, since each person has only one face, the singular is used even if you are talking to ten people (or 100), but in English most people would say faces, recognizing that in the aggregate, multiple people have multiple faces. But the clear thing is that no se lavan ustedes is not talking about one person.


why is La used here? Shouldn't it just be caras? I don't understand the necessity for the word 'la' and it not being plural


This is a standard difference between Spanish and English. First of all, the article is always used with body parts instead of the possessive adjective we use in English. Most statements you will make involving a part of your body will probably use a reflexive verb, like this does, but even if it doesn't the article is used instead of a possessive.

As for the singular, that's also the standard way. If you are talking to a group of people about something that each has only one of, you use the singular form in Spanish. You only use a plural if at least some people would have more than one. So, although you'd say la cara here, you'd say Por que no se lavan las manos, because most people have two hands. If you said las caras, people would be expecting two faced people (Solo bromeaba - I was only joking)


I need help here... or should i report a mistake?... ustedes is they, for you usted should have been used... la cara is face not las caras as in faces!


Ustedes is NOT they. Ellos or Ellas means they (or them). Ustedes is 'you' plural. As in 'you guys' or 'you all'.


or as in vosotros in spain spanish?


Ustedes is plural you not they but is conjugated like they. La cara is one face as they say in spanish. In english we say faces. So not a literal translation but rather correct in each language.


why is "ustedes" needed since "se lavan " indicates third person plural?


Otherwise, the sentence can mean 'Why don't they wash their faces'.


I only have ONE face thank you!!!


Yes, Cynthia, but . . . . I've finally succumbed to Spanish convention. "They" each wash one face so the verb is plural but the object is singular. (Unless, of course, you happen to have two of the object, like hands!)




It should be las caras.


Hi, GrayNathan. Here's part of my post from a long time ago (easier than again thinking of how to say what I want to say :) )-- "I've finally succumbed to Spanish convention. 'They' [or 'you all'] each wash one face so the verb is plural but the object is singular. (Unless, of course, you happen to have two of the object, like hands!)"

That's talking about speaking Spanish--in English, when we're talking about more than one person washing, we still say "faces"!


in another lesson Duo marked me wrong for putting las caras. insisting that every child has only one face. so it needed to be singular. learning from that exercise, I put la cara on this one. even though its STILL referencing a group of people as one. and got it marked wrong. what gives


iSugar, you must have had some other error. Duo's prompt is ¿Por qué no se lavan ustedes la cara? For more than one person's face, still la cara in Spanish, "your/their faces" in English.


Help.... i thought cara was car ...so its car aswell?


cara = face
carro = car
caro = expensive


I don't think it's necessary in English to use the plural of faces when you are talking to a group of "yous". Why don't you wash your face would be perfectly well understood when it is being a address to the group.


I think that you could probably certainly say the same about using caras in the Spanish. Here Duo isn't teaching a rule as much as demonstrating that the majority of English speakers are likely to say it one way while the majority of Spanish speakers will say it the other. Setting up the difference not only means that you will sound more natural speaking Spanish, it also helps with comprehension. When spoken Spanish is coming at you a mile a minute, as it seems to do, especially early on, even hearing something unexpected like this, however minor, can make you lose pace in terms of keeping up.


por que no.....why don't you wash all your faces? after all, we're speaking to more than one face, aren't we?


You can speak to more than one thing or person (or about more than one thing person etc) without using the word "all" in English. Not sure about any other languages, but all would be an extra word that is not indicated here.

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.