The Imperative – Spanish Commands

Posted on 17th December 2013 in Conjugation

The Imperative – Spanish Commands

by Russell Sabo

How do you tell someone what to do in Spanish? You give them a command, of course. Do this! Don’t do that! Let’s go! The Spanish command form, also called the imperative (imperativo) and mandato, is what you will use to tell somebody to do something. To convey a sense of urgency, or a lack of, you can use an expression of time, such as: Do it now! Write it at 4pm! The imperative isn’t a verb tense, but rather a mood, like the subjunctive. And speaking of the subjunctive mood, to form the imperative of Spanish verbs, it’s very helpful to have a good knowledge of how to conjugate the subjunctive mood. Most of the imperative forms are conjugated just like the subjunctive.

The imperative has two forms: the familiar imperative and the polite imperative. The familiar imperative deals with commands with which you would give to people you are familiar with (tú and vosotros). The polite imperative deals with commands with which you would give to people you defer to (bosses, parents, etc.), are unfamiliar with (strangers), or when you are just being polite (Usted and Ustedes). There are also rules for dealing with “we” and “us” – “nosotros.”

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In this article I will go through each imperative form, beginning with the familiar, then to the polite, and ending with the “Let’s…” (nosotros) form. Below is a list of each of the forms we will be covering:

  1. Familiar Imperative
    • Affirmative familiar singular imperative
    • Affirmative familiar plural imperative
    • Negative familiar singular imperative
    • Negative familiar plural imperative
    • Irregular affirmative familiar singular imperative
    • Irregular negative familiar singular imperative
  2. Polite Imperative
    • Affirmative polite singular imperative
    • Affirmative polite plural imperative
    • Negative polite singular imperative
    • Negative politer plural imperative
    • Irregular affirmative polite singular and plural imperative
    • Irregular negative polite singular and plural imperative
  3. Let’s Imperative
    • Affirmative let’s imperative
    • Negative let’s imperative

    Familiar Imperatives

    Affirmative Familiar Singular Imperative

    The affirmative familiar singular imperative deals with “tú” or “you.” This is the same as telling your friend or sibling to do something. To form this, use the 3rd person singular present indicative form. What I normally do is use the second person present indicative and then remove the ‘s’ from the end. It helps me to remember that I’m talking to “you.”

    • ¡Cierra! – Close!
    • ¡Come! – Eat!
    • ¡Entra! – Enter!
    • ¡Escribe! – Write!
    • ¡Pide! – Order!
    • ¡Vuelve! – Return!

    Object Pronouns and the Affirmative Imperative

    When dealing with object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) in the familiar imperative, you will attach the pronouns to the END of the verb. You MAY also need to place an accent mark on the verb, depending on how many syllables it has. If the base verb (before you add the object pronouns) has one syllable (¡Haz! – Do!), you will not need to place an accent mark. For example: ¡Hazlo! – Do it! If the base verb (before you add the object pronouns) has two or more syllables (¡Habla! – Speak!), then you will need to place an accent mark on the next-to-the-last syllable, such as this: ¡Háblame! – Speak to me! This is done in order to keep the original accent of the base verb (where the accent was before the pronouns were added).

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Ciérralo! – Close it!
    • ¡Cómelo! – Eat it!
    • ¡Ábrelo! – Open it!
    • ¡Hazla! – Do it!
    • ¡Ponla allí! – Put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡Háblame! – Speak to me!
    • ¡Muéstrame! – Show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Dímela! – Tell it to me!
    • ¡Escríbemelo! – Write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡Levántate! – Get up!
    • ¡Vístete! – Get dressed!

    Affirmative Familiar Plural Imperative

    The affirmative familiar plural imperative deals with “vosotros” or “you all.” This is the same as telling your friends or siblings to do something. To form this, drop the ‘r’ from the infinitive and replace it with ‘d’. It’s a very simple form to remember.

    • Cerrar – drop the ‘r’ – Cerra – add the ‘d’ – ¡Cerrad!
    • Comer – drop the ‘r’ – Come – add the ‘d’ – ¡Comed!
    • Entrar – drop the ‘r’ – Entra – add the ‘d’ – ¡Entrad!
    • Escribir – drop the ‘r’ – Escribi – add the ‘d’ – ¡Escribid!
    • Pedir – drop the ‘r’ – Pedi – add the ‘d’ – ¡Pedid!
    • Volver – drop the ‘r’ – Volve – add the ‘d’ – ¡Volved!

    Object Pronouns and the Affirmative Imperative

    As this is the affirmative imperative, you will attach the object pronouns to the end of the base verb. If you are adding a direct object pronoun OR an indirect object pronoun, then you won’t need to place an accent mark (because the verb ends with the letter ‘d’, the natural accent will be on the last syllable anyway). If you are adding a direct object pronoun AND an indirect object pronoun (Both), then you will place an accent mark on the last syllable of the base verb (because you have added two syllables, the direct and indirect object pronouns, to the verb). Finally, when adding the reflexive pronoun to the end of the base verb, you will drop the ‘d’ altogether and then add the reflexive pronoun.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Cerradlo! – Close it!
    • ¡Comedlo! – Eat it!
    • ¡Abridlo! – Open it!
    • ¡Hacedla! – Do it!
    • ¡Ponedla allí! – Put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡Habladme! – Speak to me!
    • ¡Mostradme! – Show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Decídmela! – Tell it to me!
    • ¡Escribídmelo! – Write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡Levantaos! – Get up!
    • ¡Vestíos! – Get dressed! (Special note: In this case, an accent mark was placed to indicate that there are two separate syllables.)

    Negative Familiar Singular Imperative

    The negative familiar Singular imperative deals with “tú” or “you.” To form the negative, you will use the second person singular form of the present subjunctive, preceded by “no”.

    • ¡No cierres! – Don’t close!
    • ¡No comas! – Don’t eat!
    • ¡No entres! – Don’t enter!
    • !No escribas! – Don’t write!
    • !No pidas! – Don’t order!
    • !No vuelvas! – Don’t return!

    Object Pronouns and the Negative Imperative

    When dealing with object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) in the negative imperative, you will place the pronouns in front of the verb (not attached to the end as with the affirmative imperative). You will not need to place any accent marks unless the base verb had one before the object pronouns were placed.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No lo cierres! – Don’t close it!
    • ¡No lo comas! – Don’t eat it!
    • ¡No lo abras! – Don’t open it!
    • ¡No la hagas! – Don’t do it!
    • ¡No la pongas allí! – Don’t put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me hables! – Don’t speak to me!
    • ¡No me muestres! – Don’t show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me lo digas! – Don’t tell it to me!
    • ¡No me lo escribas! – Don’t write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡No te levantes! – Don’t get up!
    • ¡No te vistas! – Don’t get dressed!

    Negative Familiar Plural Imperative

    The negative familiar plural imperative deals with “vosotros” or “you all.” To form the negative, you will use the word “no” followed by the second person plural form of the present subjunctive.

    • ¡No cerréis! – Don’t close!
    • ¡No comáis! – Don’t eat!
    • ¡No entréis! – Don’t enter!
    • !No escribáis! – Don’t write!
    • !No pidáis! – Don’t order!
    • !No volváis! – Don’t return!

    Object Pronouns and the Negative Imperative

    Place the object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) before the base verb (not attached to the end as with the affirmative imperative).

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No lo cerréis! – Don’t close it!
    • ¡No lo comáis! – Don’t eat it!
    • ¡No lo abráis! – Don’t open it!
    • ¡No la hagáis! – Don’t do it!
    • ¡No la pongáis allí! – Don’t put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me habléis! – Don’t speak to me!
    • ¡No me mostréis! – Don’t show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me lo digáis! – Don’t tell it to me!
    • ¡No me lo escribáis! – Don’t write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡No os levantéis! – Don’t get up!
    • ¡No os vistáis! – Don’t get dressed!

    Irregular Affirmative Familiar Singular Imperative

    There are only a few irregular verbs in the affirmative familiar singular imperative form, which are limited to the “tú” form. They seem like they would be difficult to remember, but they’re so commonly used that you’ll have them memorized quickly.

    • Decir – ¡Di!
    • Hacer – ¡Haz!
    • Ir – ¡Ve!
    • Poner – ¡Pon!
    • Salir – ¡Sal!
    • Ser – ¡Sé!
    • Tener – ¡Ten!
    • Venir – ¡Ven!

    Irregular Negative Familiar Singular Imperative

    For the irregular negative familiar singular imperative form, everything is conjugated as normal. Use “no” followed by the second person singular present subjunctive form.

    • Decir – ¡No digas!
    • Hacer – ¡No hagas!
    • Ir – ¡No vayas!
    • Poner – ¡No pongas!
    • Salir – ¡No salgas!
    • Ser – ¡No seas!
    • Tener – ¡No tengas!
    • Venir – ¡No vengas!

    Polite Imperatives

    Affirmative Polite Singular Imperative

    The affirmative Polite Singular Imperative deals with “Usted” or “you.” To form it, use the third person singular present subjunctive.

    • ¡Cierre! – Close!
    • ¡Coma! – Eat!
    • ¡Entre! – Enter!
    • ¡Escriba! – Write!
    • ¡Pida! – Order!
    • ¡Vuelva! – Return!

    Object Pronouns and the Affirmative Imperative

    When dealing with object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) in the polite imperative, you will attach the pronouns to the END of the verb. You will also place an accent mark over the next-to-last syllable of the base verb. This will allow the stress to remain in its original position.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Ciérrelo! – Close it!
    • ¡Cómalo! – Eat it!
    • ¡Ábralo! – Open it!
    • ¡Hágala! – Do it!
    • ¡Póngala allí! – Put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡Hábleme! – Speak to me!
    • ¡Muéstreme! – Show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Dígamela! – Tell it to me!
    • ¡Escríbamelo! – Write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡Levántese! – Get up!
    • ¡Vístase! – Get dressed!

    Affirmative Polite Plural Imperative

    The affirmative Polite Plural Imperative deals with “Ustedes” or “you all.” To form it, use the third person plural present subjunctive.

    • ¡Cierren! – Close!
    • ¡Coman! – Eat!
    • ¡Entren! – Enter!
    • ¡Escriban! – Write!
    • ¡Pidan! – Order!
    • ¡Vuelvan! – Return!

    Object Pronouns and the Affirmative Imperative

    When dealing with object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) in the polite imperative, you will attach the pronouns to the END of the verb. You will also place an accent mark over the next-to-last syllable of the base verb. This will allow the stress to remain in its original position.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Ciérrenlo! – Close it!
    • ¡Cómanlo! – Eat it!
    • ¡Ábranlo! – Open it!
    • ¡Háganla! – Do it!
    • ¡Pónganla allí! – Put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡Háblenme! – Speak to me!
    • ¡Muéstrenme! – Show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Díganmela! – Tell it to me!
    • ¡Escríbanmelo! – Write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡Levántense! – Get up!
    • ¡Vístanse! – Get dressed!

    Negative Polite Singular Imperative

    To form the negative polite singular imperative, use “no” followed by the third person singular present subjunctive.

    • ¡No cierre! – Don’t close!
    • ¡No coma! – Don’t eat!
    • ¡No entre! – Don’t enter!
    • ¡No escriba! – Don’t write!
    • ¡No pida! – Don’t order!
    • ¡No vuelva! – Don’t return!

    Object Pronouns and the Negative Imperative

    When dealing with object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) in the negative imperative, you will place the pronouns in front of the verb (not attached to the end as with the affirmative imperative). You will not need to place any accent marks unless the base verb had one before the object pronouns were placed.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No lo cierre! – Don’t close it!
    • ¡No lo coma! – Don’t eat it!
    • ¡No lo abra! – Don’t open it!
    • ¡No la haga! – Don’t do it!
    • ¡No la ponga allí! – Don’t put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me hable! – Don’t speak to me!
    • ¡No me muestre! – Don’t show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me lo diga! – Don’t tell it to me!
    • ¡No me lo escriba! – Don’t write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡No se levante! – Don’t get up!
    • ¡No se vista! – Don’t get dressed!

    Negative Polite Plural Imperative

    To form the negative polite plural imperative, use “no” followed by the third person plural present subjunctive.

    • ¡No cierren! – Don’t close!
    • ¡No coman! – Don’t eat!
    • ¡No entren! – Don’t enter!
    • ¡No escriban! – Don’t write!
    • ¡No pidan! – Don’t order!
    • ¡No vuelvan! – Don’t return!

    Object Pronouns and the Negative Imperative

    When dealing with object pronouns (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive pronouns) in the negative imperative, you will place the pronouns in front of the verb (not attached to the end as with the affirmative imperative). You will not need to place any accent marks unless the base verb had one before the object pronouns were placed.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No lo cierren! – Don’t close it!
    • ¡No lo coman! – Don’t eat it!
    • ¡No lo abran! – Don’t open it!
    • ¡No la hagan! – Don’t do it!
    • ¡No la pongan allí! – Don’t put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me hablen! – Don’t speak to me!
    • ¡No me muestren! – Don’t show me!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No me lo digan! – Don’t tell it to me!
    • ¡No me lo escriban! – Don’t write it to me!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡No se levanten! – Don’t get up!
    • ¡No se vistan! – Don’t get dressed!

    Irregular Affirmative Polite Singular (and Plural) Imperative

    The irregular affirmative polite imperatives make a bit more sense than the familiar imperatives. To form these, use the third person singular present subjunctive form (and the third person plural present subjunctive form.

    • Dar – ¡Dé(n)! – Don’t use the accent mark on the plural form.
    • Estar – ¡Esté(n)
    • Haber – ¡Haya(n)
    • Ir – ¡Vaya(n)!
    • Saber – ¡Sepa(n)
    • Ser – ¡Sea(n)

    Irregular Negative Polite Singular (and Plural) Imperative

    The irregular negative polite imperatives are formed in the exact same way as the affirmative irregular imperatives. Just add the “no” before them and you’re good to go.

    • Dar – ¡No dé(n)! – Don’t use the accent mark on the plural form.
    • Estar – ¡No esté(n)
    • Haber – ¡No haya(n)
    • Ir – ¡No vaya(n)!
    • Saber – ¡No sepa(n)
    • Ser – ¡No sea(n)

    The Let’s Imperative

    Affirmative Let’s Imperative

    The Let’s imperative deals with “nosotros” or “we/us.” To form it, use the first person plural of the present subjunctive

    • ¡Cerremos! – Let’s close!
    • ¡Comamos! – Let’s eat!
    • ¡Entremos! – Let’s enter!
    • ¡Escribamos! – Let’s write!
    • ¡Pidamos! – Let’s order!
    • ¡Volvamos! – Let’s return!

    Object Pronouns and the Let’s Imperative

    As with the other affirmative imperative forms, you will attach the object pronoun (direct, indirect, both, and reflexive) to the end of the verb. Place an accent mark on the next-to-last syllable of the base verb form (before you add the object pronoun/s. If you use the ‘se’ pronoun when adding an indirect and direct pronoun to the verb, make sure you have only one ‘s’. For example: ¡Digámossela a ellas! = Wrong! Instead, it is: ¡Digámosela a ellas! When using the reflexive pronoun, remove the ‘s’ from the base verb before adding the reflexive pronoun.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Cerrémoslo! – Let’s close it!
    • ¡Comámoslo! – Let’s eat it!
    • ¡Abrámoslo! – Let’s open it!
    • ¡Hagámosla! – Let’s do it!
    • ¡Pongámosla allí! – Let’s put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡Hablémosle a él! – Let’s speak to him!
    • ¡Mostrémosle a él! – Let’s show him!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡Digámosela a ellas! – Let’s tell it to them!
    • ¡Escribémoselo a ellos! – Let’s write it to them!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡Levantémonos! – Let’s get up!
    • ¡Vistámonos! – Let’s get dressed!

    Negative Let’s Imperative

    To form the negative Let’s imperative, simply add a “no” in front of the first person plural of the present subjunctive

    • ¡No cerremos! – Let’s not close!
    • ¡No comamos! – Let’s not eat!
    • ¡No entremos! – Let’s not enter!
    • ¡No escribamos! – Let’s not write!
    • ¡No pidamos! – Let’s not order!
    • ¡No volvamos! – Let’s not return!

    Object Pronouns and the Let’s Imperative

    As with the other negative imperative forms, you will place the object pronoun/s before the verb.

    • Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No lo cerremos! – Let’s not close it!
    • ¡No lo comamos! – Let’s not eat it!
    • ¡No lo abramos! – Let’s not open it!
    • ¡No la hagamos! – Let’s not do it!
    • ¡No la pongamos allí! – Let’s not put it over there!
    • Indirect Object Pronouns
    • ¡No le hablemos a él! – Let’s not speak to him!
    • ¡No le mostremos a ella! – Let’s not show her!
    • Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
    • ¡No se lo digamos a ellos! – Let’s not tell it to them!
    • ¡No se lo escribamos a él! – Let’s not write it to him!
    • Reflexive Pronouns
    • ¡No nos levantemos! – Let’s not get up!
    • ¡No nos vistamos! – Let’s not get dressed!

     

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