"¿Cierro la botella?"
Translation:Should I close the bottle?
Good question, DaveHarris. I think there you have the right idea. But I am getting the idea that this would be the more relaxed way to express such a question. I personally hate learning something in a language and then finding out later the hard way that I sound super formal and stuffy. You know?
Yes, I do! Actually, only a few more phrases though this section I appreciated that it's just Duo's way of teaching us that very thing.
In English we express politeness with modal words. We also quite happily mix up our present tense(s) with the future, the past and so on, just as Spanish does (only slightly differently). I'm sure there's a Linguistics MA in there somewhere but for now I absorb it all and just revel in the delights of both the similarities and the differences.
Debería is as "should" as you can get. I mean, it's a separate word in English, so why shouldn't it be one in Spanish as well? Conjugation can't solve every problem. :)
"Should I do this?" can have two meanings. Either you have an obligation to do the thing; in that case you should use a form of deber in your translation. Or you're offering to do something helpful. This is what the Spanish sentence here is doing. "Shall I ...?" or "Can I ...?" might work better in this case, though.
The conditional form of cerrar is cerraría and means "I would close", and using a subjunctive form in a main clause is usually a no-no.
Well put; it seems a lot of people working on this lesson are conflating the polite "offer" and "request" meanings of "Should I" and "can you" with the meanings that literally ask about obligation or ability to do something.
Hence their insistence that deber and poder should be part of the sentences when they're not necessary in these meanings!
I agree. I wish Duolingo would teach that instead, it would be more natural.
Does anyone know where the "should" comes from here? I thought should would be "the conditional", but looking it up online it says it's "the preterite". Yet this conjugation is "the present". Confused.
Yes, for simple conversational markers in English like "can you?" or "should I?", in Spanish we can just make the sentence a question and be done with it.
Saying "Debo cerrar la botella?" would mean something like "Do I have an obligation to close the bottle?" which sounds WAY too formal.
And for poder, even though in English we say "Can you close the bottle?" the direct translation in Spanish "Puedes cerrar la botella?" is like saying, "Are you capable of closing the bottle?" It's asking if they have the ability to do it, not asking them to actually do it.
The "need" for "deber" and "poder" is a "need" only in English, because in English that is a verbal cue that it is a request for action. We don't use the same cues in Spanish, simply phrasing it as a question is enough.
It might be best to think of it as just the way the language developed, rather than as "laziness."
"Should" can be taken as both the conditional and the past-tense form of "shall", although the actual conditional meaning isn't used much anymore. The Wiktionary also lists it as a subjunctive form, so it's a fun bag.
- conditional: If I were you, I should be glad.
- past tense: He told me he should work longer tomorrow.
- subjunctive: You can call me, should you need anything.
Otherwise it's used as a present-tense auxiliary for obligations ("I should do this") and probabilities ("This should work").
How would you say "Could I close the bottle?" If the Spanish were "Cierres la botella, por favor?", the translation would be, "Could you close the bottle, please", correct?
Spanish doesn't need specifically to say "should" as we do in English in a sentence like this.
A grammatical and relatively literal translation would be "Do I close the bottle?" That sounds like a strange sentence in English - surely most people know whether or not they close a bottle - but is evidently one way of asking whether you ought to close the bottle in Spanish. Neither words nor sentences translate one-to-one between languages.
Wouldn't the subjunctive "Cierre" be more correct? My Spanish teacher (from Cuba) said the subjunctive is very commonly used.