A couple of Spanish grammar questions.

Living in SoCal as I do I naturally am fairly inundated by Spanish in the form of signs, ads on buses, and other sources. I am aware that Sp. verbs follow the pattern of most Romance languages, with er, ir, and ar endings in the infinitive, -s in the 2nd person singular, and -ido, -ado, or -edo in the past participle. (Actually I’m not sure about -edo, did it get absorbed by one of the other two?)

But what is the -en congugation on a verb? I stayed at a hotel once (actually in Spain, as it happened), and the “do not disturb” sign said No molesten. I’ve also seen it on a couple of signs on the fences of elementary schools (Visitenos (meaning “Visit us”, I think))? In No molesten, the -en looks like a gerundive, as in “No disturbing”, but in Visitenos it looks like an imperative.

So what is the Droga Recta? (a poor translation courtesy of altavista).

IIRC, that’s the conjugation for ustedes (you, plural) in the command for. So, no molesten would be “y’all don’t disturb”.

Usually “iendo” in Spanish is the gerund form.

In no molesten, it is the second person plural imperative.

Goodness, that sounds erudite!

In Spanish you can often get away without using the subject pronoun, since the verb conjugation tells you the subject. So it is ustedes no molesten, roughly translated “ya’ll don’t bother us.”

Visitenos is actually a contraction of *Usted visite nosotros * or (you, singular) visit us. It is also in the imperative (command).

command form. (AKA, imperitive)

Thanks for the responses so far.

Are there any historical linguists out there who can tell me the evolution of that form? What was it in Latin, and what is it in other Romance languages?

I figure that abuelisma is the appropriate term for the subject of Spanish grammar! :wink:

Very minor nitpick in your otherwise-excellent comment above. Spanish does of course have a second person plural imperative, but it would be something like molestate (accent on the -ta- and the final syllable pronounced -tay). What you gave was the “Usted”-form third person imperative, which is for all practical purposes the indicative used mandatively: “[All you who read this (understood)] are not to molest [the inhabitants of this room].”

With regard to the infinitive/past participle question, by the way, one must reference Latin, the origin of most of Spanish grammar.

There were four conjugations of Latin verbs: the infinitive of first conjugation ended in -are, of second in -ere, with the first E a long, stressed vowel, of third in -ere with the first E a short vowel, and of fourth in -ire. These gave rise to the three Spanish infinitive endings -ar, -er, and -ir. The four conjugations had past participles ending in -atus, -etus, -itus, and -itus respectively. First conjugation past participles became in Spanish -ado, and third and fourth -ido, as might be expected. Some second conjugation verbs retained the -edo form, while others, under the influence of the large group of third and fourth conjugation verbs already doing it, shifted to -ido. So -edo is almost an irregular ending, because very few verbs preserved it.

To nitpick even further, the second person familiar plural (vosotros) affirmative imperative would be Molestad!. In the negative, it would be No Molestéis! In the case of No Molesten,, as you say it is a third person form (Ustedes), but it is being used as the formal form of the second person plural imperative.

Seconding the minor nitpick of the minor nitpick - molestate is Italian 2nd person plural.

3rd pers. plural in French and Italian : molestano and dérangent respectively, though the imperatives in French and Italian are less marked than in Spanish, and French uses 2nd pers. plural vous not 3rd for formal address.

As for Latin, I’ll bow to Polycarp’s superior knowledge.

oops - that was of course Italian = molestano and French = dérangent