Giving Friendly Commands in Spanish with the Imperative Mood - dummies

Giving Friendly Commands in Spanish with the Imperative Mood

Spanish has two types of commands in the imperative mood: informal and formal commands. Both types of commands tell someone to do something. The difference is in how well you know the poor soul you’re ordering about.

You use informal commands with people you know: family members, friends, and pets. You use formal commands with people who are older and wiser than you or with folks whom you don’t know very well. This article covers the informal commands.

The imperative is called a mood, rather than a tense, because it deals with wants and desires, and the time is always now.

Forming the informal “you” singular command

You can form positive, informal commands by dropping the -s from the present tense forms of regular -ar, -er, or -ir verbs:

  • hablas (you speak) becomes habla (speak)

  • comes (you eat) becomes come (eat)

  • escribes (you write) becomes escribe (write)

You can form negative commands by taking the -o off of the present tense yo form and adding -es for regular -ar verbs and -as for regular -er and -ir verbs:

  • hablo (I speak) becomes no hables (don’t speak)

  • como (I eat) becomes no comas (don’t eat)

  • escribo (I write) becomes no escribas (don’t write)

Spanish also includes some irregular form commands. The following table shows the positive and negative forms of the most common irregular form commands:

Irregular Tú Form Commands
Infinitive Positive Command Negative Command
decir = to say, tell di no digas
hacer = to do, make haz no hagas
ir = to go ve no vayas
poner = to put pon no pongas
salir = to leave sal no salgas
ser = to be no seas
tener = to have ten no tengas
venir = to come ven no vengas

Forming the informal “you” plural command

When forming the positive, informal, plural you or vosotros commands for regular verbs, you drop the -r from the infinitive form and add -d, as you can see in the following examples:

  • ¡Hablad! = Speak!

  • Comed. = Eat.

  • Escribid. = Write.

When forming the negative vosotros commands, you simply drop the -o from the present tense yo form and add -éis for -ar verbs or -áis for -er and -ir verbs, as follows:

  • ¡No habléis! = Don’t speak!

  • No comáis. = Don’t eat.

  • No escribáis. = Don’t write.

Three verbs are irregular in the negative vosotros command forms. They are

Irregular Vosotros Form Negative Commands
Infinitive Negative Command Translation
Ir ¡No vayáis! Don’t go!
Saber No sepáis . . . Don’t know . . .
Ser No seáis . . . Don’t be . . .