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Lesson Transcript

Fernando: “Please don’t tempt me in Spanish!” I’m Fernando and I’m joined by JP. JP, what am I not supposed to be tempted by?
JP: We are going to find out in today’s lesson.
Fernando: Wonderful.
JP: Fernando, what are we going to talk about in this lesson?
Fernando: In this lesson, you will learn about making requests with the present tense. This conversation takes place at a restaurant, the conversation is between Teresa and Óscar, the speakers will be using the familiar register.
JP: Let’s listen to this conversation.
Óscar: ¿Me pasas el menú por favor?
Teresa: Sí, nada más escojo lo que voy a pedir.
Óscar: Bueno, pero el postre yo te lo daré.
Teresa: Mira nada más... Entonces va a salir bien barato.
Óscar: Will you pass me the menu please?
Teresa: Yes, I am choosing what I'm going to order.
Óscar: Fine, but I'm going to give you the dessert.
Teresa: Just look at that... So it's going to turn out to be nice and cheap.
JP: We’ve caught an intimate moment before they ordered their meal at the restaurant.
Fernando: We are good at catching people when they are about to become...
JP: That’s R-rated.
Fernando: This could get R-rated. I agree. Óscar is apparently a little fidgety about the menu he wants to order already.
JP: Right, well Teresa’s got the only menu. So Óscar says...
Fernando: “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”
JP: Ok. “Could you pass me the menu please?”, “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”. “Por favor” obviously means “please”, and the word for “menu”?
Fernando: “Menú”.
JP: “Menú”, and then the request is “could you pass me?”.
Fernando: “¿Me pasas?”
JP: “¿Me pasas?”. Right, this is the request. We’ll talk later about this kind of request in the grammar session. Let’s put it together though. “Will you pass me the menu please?”
Fernando: “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”
JP: And the answer is “yes.”
Fernando: “Sí”.
JP: But no, right? She’s going to pick what she wants to order first.
Fernando: “Sí, nada más escojo lo que voy a pedir”.
JP: Okay, let’s start at the beginning here. So she says “yes”, “sí”, but then she says “I’m just going to chose…”
Fernando: “Nada más escojo…”
JP: Okay, the verb there is “escojo” which means “I choose” or “I’m choosing” and that’s the verb “escoger”, “to choose”. And when she says “nada más escojo” it means “I’m just choosing”, “I’m just doing this”, “I’m just going to choose what I’m going to order.”
Fernando: “Lo que voy a pedir”.
JP: “Lo que voy a pedir”. “Pedir” of course means “to request” or “to order” and this “lo que” we don’t have to worry about it now because it’s an advanced grammatical thing but “lo que voy a pedir”, “what I’m going to order.” So let’s put it together. “Yes, I’m just choosing what I’m going to order.”
Fernando: “Sí, nada más escojo lo que voy a pedir”.
JP: Okay. So Óscar is not getting the menu but he is going to start becoming a little forward here.
Fernando: I would say very forward.
JP: Yes.
Fernando: To the point of maybe needing a few bleeps here and there.
JP: What does he say?
Fernando: “Fine, but I’m going to give you the desert.”
JP: “Bueno, pero el postre yo te lo daré”.
Fernando: My God!
JP: So what’s the word for desert?
Fernando: “Postre”.
JP: “Postre”. “El postre” is “the desert” and he says “I shall give it to you.”
Fernando: “Yo te lo daré”.
JP: “Yo te lo daré”. Now the action verb there is “dar” is “to give” and if you are interested it’s in the simple future tense. We are not going to go into the grammar of it here but we are going to put it together here so you can understand so he says “well, but the desert, I’m going to give it to you”.
Fernando: “Bueno, pero el postre yo te lo daré”.
JP: Okay and obviously he is not talking about something that’s sweet and baked in the oven.
Fernando: I’m not going to comment on that one, JP.
JP: Obviously! And Teresa picks it up too, because she comes back with a snarky comment of her own.
Fernando: “Just look at that!”
JP: “Just look at that!”, “Mira nada más…”
Fernando: “Entonces va a salir bien barato”.
JP: “Therefore it’s going to come out nice and cheap.” It’s going to come out really cheap. So let’s take a look at this sentence, what’s the word for “cheap”?
Fernando: “Barato”.
JP: “Barato” means “cheap.” How “barato” is it going to be?
Fernando: “Bien barato”.
JP: “Bien barato”. Okay, this is the adverb that means “well.” So “well cheap”, “very cheap”, “really cheap.” Now she says that it’s going to come out cheap out, it’s going to turn out to be cheap.
Fernando: “Entonces va a salir bien barato”.
JP: Okay. “Va a salir”, “is going to turn out.” “Salir”. “Salir” usually means “to exit” or “to take off” but in some cases, like in this case, it means “to result” and we have “va a salir” because “it’s going to result.” So let’s put it all together, “therefore…”
Fernando: “Entonces…”
JP: “It’s going to turn out really cheap.”
Fernando: “Va a salir bien barato”.
JP: Okay. What is she really saying there, Fernando?
Fernando: I think what she’s saying is if you add the desert on to the overall cost of the meal, there isn’t going to be a big spike in the final price.
JP: Right, because Óscar is saying that he is going to be responsible for the desert.
Fernando: Right. So that said, maybe we should move on to the vocabulary.
JP: Probably a good idea.
Fernando: “El postre”.
JP: “Dessert.”
Fernando: “El pos-tre”, “el postre”. “Escoger”.
JP: “To choose”, “to pick.”
Fernando: “Es-co-ger”, “escoger”. “Pedir”.
JP: “To order.”
Fernando: “Pe-dir”, “pedir”. “Barato”.
JP: “Inexpensive”, “cheap.”
Fernando: “Ba-ra-to”, “barato”. “El menú”.
JP: “Menu.”
Fernando: “El me-nú”, “el menú”.
JP: Alright Fernando, let’s take a closer look at some of these words.
Fernando: Let’s start with “el menú”.
JP: “El menú”. This is a very close cognate to English, it means “menu”, right?
Fernando: “Menu”.
JP: “Menu”, “menú”.
Fernando: Next word, “escoger”.
JP: “Escoger”, “to choose.” So Teresa was choosing from the menu. She said “nada más escojo lo que voy a pedir”. There are a bunch of synonyms for “escoger”, “elegir”, “optar”, “seleccionar”, ... “Escoger”, you know, it’s basically up to you, what you want to choose.
Fernando: Aaah, there you go.
JP: A little bit of vocabulary humor. What’s next?
Fernando: “El postre”.
JP: “El postre”, “dessert.” I think “el postre” is my favorite part of the meal.
Fernando: Not in regards to the dialogue, right?
JP: No. Not if “el postre” is Óscar himself. No, probably not. I probably want something sweet and baked.
Fernando: Very well, fair enough. Let’s move on to the next word, “pedir”.
JP: “Pedir”, “to ask for”, “to order.” Literally this is “to request for something” or “to ask for something.” But in the context of a restaurant it means “to order.” “Pedir”.
Fernando: And that’s pretty much what it is.
JP: That’s all there is to say about it.
Fernando: Last word is “barato”.
JP: “Barato”, this is a good word. It means “cheap”, it means “inexpensive” and it’s a word that usually makes you happy, you know, if you can get something “barato”.
Fernando: For example if you are at a restaurant and you are looking for something low priced, decent and kind of cool, you can use the 3b’s.
JP: The 3b’s? What are they?
Fernando: “Bueno”.
JP: “Delicious”, “good.”
Fernando: “Bonito”.
JP: “Good looking”, so visually appealing.
Fernando: And “barato”.
JP: “Barato”, appealing to your checkbook.
Fernando: Yes, there you go.
JP: Sweet. Is that the last word today?
Fernando: That is the last word. I think the next section is grammar point.

Lesson focus

JP: Today we are going to talk about making requests with the present tense. For example, at the beginning of our dialogue today, Óscar asked Teresa to pass him the menu.
Fernando: “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”
JP: “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?” Now this is the regular present tense of the verb “pasar”. So if I were to gloss this sentence, it’d say, so if I were to gloss this sentence directly into English it would be “to me you are passing the menu please”.
Fernando: That seems very wordy.
JP: It seems very wordy and it’s not natural in English. However, “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”, is a perfectly natural way to ask someone to pass you the menu in Spanish.
Fernando: Yes.
JP: Now I’m going to tell you the secret of this structure. Some people will theorize that this is a special use of the present tense, that’s a special kind of “mandato” in the present… But what I’m going to tell you, if you are an English speaker this will make a lot more sense, this is basically a question. Now Latinos don’t always use question marks when they do it but if you listen to them, they will use question intonation. So Fernando, can you read this sentence again and we are going to listen to see if there is a question intonation.
Fernando: “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”
JP: “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?” If you heard that little bit of rising intonation at the end “por favor”, “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”. That is question intonation and in that reading Fernando, there is no doubt to me that that was a question. That was actually probably the easiest way to analyze this use of the present tense in making requests.
Fernando: And if you flip it around because this is a reflexive verb, “pasarme”, and the versatility within the sentence is that you can use a direct command.
JP: How would that go?
Fernando: “Pásame el menú, por favor”.
JP: “Pásame el menú, por favor”. Okay, now you can see that the grammar there is “mandato” grammar that’s an imperative grammar which is another way that Óscar could have gotten the menu from Teresa.
Fernando: And the funny thing about this is that no additional words were used nor were there any taken from that sentence.
JP: Right, it’s just a little word order change. That changes the grammar.
Fernando: “Me pasas” changes to “pásame”.
JP: Right and Óscar used the question “¿Me pasas el menú por favor?”. Now I should point out that sometimes in formal situations you might not hear question intonation but it’s still going to be a question. Now if you had a hard day and if you go to the fruit market and you just want two kilos of apples you can say “Me da dos kilos de manzanas, por favor”. Doesn’t sound like a question, it sounds like the intonation is kind of like a statement but still it’s better to just say “okay, this is a secret question” than it is to invent some kind of complicated grammar about how this present tense is being used as a command. Because it’s not, it’s a question.
Fernando: At the end of the day it’s also a request.
JP: Yes, exactly.


JP: For now though, it’s time for us to go, ¡hasta luego!
Fernando: ¡Adiós!