Express Obligation with Hay que
Unless your home is brand new and you have just finished moving in, you probably have a thousand things on your indoor “to do” list. It's also likely that you are most successful getting your family to do things around the house if you ask politely rather than issuing commands. The same thing is true if you hire a professional. The only difference is the conjugation of the verbs: use
Before you get started on those pesky household chores, though, you need to review some home vocabulary.
Furnishings and Appliances
You can expand on this list by walking around your house and jotting down what you see. Look new words up in the dictionary and then practice making sentences, or make a scrapbook by cutting out pictures from magazines and labeling them in Spanish.
Indirect Requests with Hay que
If you have hired someone to help you with chores, a semi-indirect approach is the most polite. You've already learned several ways to make polite requests. Another one for your repertoire is
Listen to each example on Track 44 as you follow along in the text. Repeat each polite request after you hear it.
(The kitchen needs cleaning.)
(The furniture needs dusting.)
(The living room needs straightening and vacuuming.)
These are pretty subtle; chances are that if you used these phrases with your family, they would simply nod and wander off. You might have to be more direct with them. On the other hand, if you have hired someone to help out, this structure is a very polite way of saying what needs doing. The implication is, of course, that he or she will complete the tasks you have identified.
The expression hay que is rarely accompanied by por favor because it is completely impersonal. Use hay que + infinitive to outline tasks, and use por favor with other polite requests that are directed at specific people.
Practice: Polite and Indirect Requests
Use the cues to politely ask the following people to lend a hand. Then compare your examples to the sample answers in Appendix D.
Señora Álvarez / lavar y planchar esta ropa tu esposo (mi amor) / arreglar la lavadora tus hijos / ordenar su dormitorio / guardar esos juguetes Señora Álvarez / limpiar los baños tu hija (m'hija) / fregar el piso de la cocina