Que after a command

Here’s a grammar note that I never saw in Spanish class. After a command, you can use que to introduce the reason the listener should comply. Here are some examples:

  • Bájale a tu tonito, que soy tu padre. Don’t take that tone of voice with me. I’m your father.
  • Apúrate, que se nos hace tarde. Hurry up. We’re running late.
  • No me hables por teléfono, que no traigo. Don’t call my cell. I don’t have it on me.
  • Siéntate tantito, que tengo que hablar contigo. Have a seat. We need to talk.
  • Vete de aquí, que no te quiero volver a ver nunca. Get out of here. I never want to see you again.
  • Ábreme la puerta, que voy a salir. Open the door. I’m leaving.
  • Apaga la luz, que quiero dormir. Turn off the light. I want to sleep. (post-it note)
  • Rápido, que tengo mucho trabajo. Faster! I’ve got a lot work to do.
  • Más fuerte, que no te escucho. Speak louder. I can’t hear you.
  • A coger y a mamar, que el mundo se va a acabar. Start fucking and sucking, since the world is going to end. (a saying)
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You can see in the final examples that even though the imperative form is not used, the force is nonetheless that of a command. And as you can see, the English glosses above often include no word that translates que. A que-less construction is possible in Spanish: Cierra la ventana. Entra el frío. However, que is the norm: Cierra la ventana, que entra el frío.

The issuing of commands belongs naturally to the domain of conversations, so you are more likely to hear this structure in speech than in writing. The next time you tell someone to do something, see if you can remember to use que to add why they should do your bidding.