E vs a - very confused about commands
I just completed the 'Requests' topic, but I still don't understand it completely. I don't understand when I'm supposed to use a word ending in a vs a word ending in e.
'Usted habla italiano.' 'Usted escribe mucho en el trabajo.' Why is one of these an a word and one is an e word? In discussions, I've seen people saying that an a word goes with 'tú', and an e word goes with 'usted'. But that doesn't seem to be consistently the case.
There's a similar issue with señor / señora, señorita words. Sometimes they end in e, sometimes a. It doesn't seem to be based on the gender of the person, but I can't figure out what it is based on.
I'm quite lost with this. I just don't get how verbs used in requests work. Are there just loads of irregularities, or is there some kind of order that I'm not seeing?
Regular Spanish verbs are divided into three classes: -ar, -er, -ir. Each of them conjugates differently. Read Spanishdict Present Tense for the different forms.
|Subject||-ar Endings||-er Endings||-ir Endings|
 Imperative forms.
The pattern is not so hard (-Yr ending):
- yo: -Yr becomes -o
- tú: -Yr becomes -Ys
- usted/él/ella: -Yr becomes -Y
- nosotros: -Yr becomes -Ymos
- vosotros: -Yr becomes -Ýis
- ustedes/ellos/ellas: -Yr becomes -Yn
Then there are a couple of exceptions in the -ir forms
- all forms except nosotros/vosotros: e instead of i
- vosotros form: ís instead of íis.
If you restrict yourself to Latin American Spanish then vosotros is not used.
Or you flip the pattern around and view the -ar ending as the exception and just remember the e conjugations (replacing e by a in -ar verbs). Again nosotros and vosotros differ slightly.
Those aren’t commands by the way, just your normal present tense. You form the imperative (command) forms for usted by switching the -a at the end to -e and vice versa, while imperative tú uses the present indicative form of él/ella/usted.
- Usted habla italiano. = You speak Italian. (singular, formal, present indicative)
- Tú, ¡habla italiano! = You, speak Italian! (singular, informal, imperative)
- Usted, ¡hable italiano! = You, speak Italian! (singular, formal, imperative)
Thank you! I'm so confused by all of this. I never learnt all the linguistic terms (imperative, present indicative, subjunctive, etc) terms that people use, so I have no idea what they mean. Guess I need to learn about them before I go any further. I've heard that English has them too, but even as a native speaker I don't know what they mean. Time for research, I suppose!
There are three classes of verbs in Spanish depending on their infinitive forms:
-ar verbs like hablar: hablo, hablas, habla, hablamos, hablan
-er verbs like comer: como,comes, come, comemos, comen
-ir verbs like escribir: escribo, escribes, escribe escribimos, escriben
You need to know how the infinitive of the verb ends in order to know what vowels to use when you conjugate the verb.
I think it's a common problem, please... do not despair and those are conjugations of the verbs. In other words you need to study how to conjugate the verbs in spanish. I'll use these two verbs you wrote as an example:
Verbo Hablar Yo hablo Tú hablas Él habla Ella habla Nosotros hablamos Ustedes hablan Ellos hablan.
Verbo escribir Yo escribo Tú escribes Él escribe Ella escribe Nosotros escribimos Ustedes escriben Ellos escriben.
If you check these conjugations for every verb you need, you may dominate it. This was the way I learned at the elementary school. Try to know verbs and conjugate it with every personal pronoun. So it would be better if you find a nice web page for english speakers... This was just for a little explanation.
As others have mentioned, there are three classes of Spanish verbs, which are conjugated differently. The examples given so far, however, all have to do with present tense, rather than the imperative, which is what you are working with right here.
Find some verb charts and take a good look. The charts given at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_verbs are reasonable. You can also check out the conjugations of individual verbs at Spanishdict.com. This will help with irregular verbs.
Be sure to check out the conjugations of negative commands, which for second person are different from the conjugations of positive commands.