Affirmative Informal (Tú) Commands

There are many different types of Spanish commands, including negative tú commands, formal commands, indirect commands, nosotros commands, and affirmative commands. We'll focus on affirmative commands in this article, so ¡ponte listo!  (look sharp!) These command forms are definitely going to come in handy.

Overview

commands are the singular form of informal commands. You can use affirmative commands to tell a friend, family member the same age as you or younger, classmate, child, or pet to do something. To tell somebody not to do something, you would use a negative tú command. This article covers affirmative commands (also called the informal imperative) in all their forms.

Affirmative vs. Negative Commands

Just so you know, here is what each of these command forms looks like.

Affirmative Command

Compra los libros.
Buy the books.
 

Negative Command

No compres los libros.
Don’t buy the books.
 

How to Form Regular Affirmative Commands

For regular verbs, you will simply use the third-person singular form of the present indicative to form an affirmative command.

Forming Commands with -ar Verbs

For verbs that end in -ar:

  • add the third-person singular ending -a to the stem

Stem? I thought we were talking about verbs, not plants.

In Spanish grammar lingo, a stem is the verb form you're left with if you take the -ar, -er or -ir away from the end of an infinitive.

Example: The stem of comprar is compr-.

VerbStem CommandEnglish
comprar
 
compr-
Compra la camisa.
 
Buy the shirt.

Forming Commands with -er Verbs

For verbs that end in -er

  • add the third-person singular ending -e to the stem
VerbStem CommandEnglish
aprender
 
aprend-
¡Aprende español!
 
Learn Spanish!

Forming Commands with -ir Verbs

For verbs that end in -ir:

  • add the third-person singular ending -e to the stem
VerbStem CommandEnglish
escribir escrib-Escribe el ensayo. Write the essay.

Forming Commands with Verbs with Stem or Spelling Changes

For verbs with [stem changes(http://www.spanishdict.com/guide/stem-changing-verbs/) or spelling changes in the present tense, the stem or spelling change also applies to the informal command form. Here are some examples of these types of verbs.

Verb CommandEnglish
cerrar
 
Cierra la puerta.
 
Close the door.
mover
 
Mueve esas sillas.
 
Move those chairs.
incluir
 
Incluye tus datos aquí.
 
Include your information here.

Irregular Affirmative Commands

All verbs with irregular third-person singular forms in the present tense maintain that same irregularity in the affirmative informal command, except for the following eight verbs, which have special irregular affirmative command forms. These ones are super-duper irregular.

VerbAffirmative Command Form
ser  
ir ve 
tener ten 
venir ven 
hacer haz 
decir di 
poner pon 
salir sal 

To remember the super-duper irregular command forms in the table above, memorize this mnemonic device:

se ve ten ven haz di pon sal 

Now say it ten times fast. No, es broma (just kidding), but do practice it so you don't forget these important irregular affirmative command forms.

Pronoun Placement with Commands

Pronouns are attached to the end of affirmative commands. A written accent (tilde ) is often added to maintain the verb's original stress, especially if more than one pronoun is used.

Traelo.
Bring it.
 
Tráemelo.
Bring it to me.
 
Dilo.
Say it.
 
Díselo.
Say it to her.
 
Cómpraselo.
Buy it for him.
 
Ponte los zapatos ¡Póntelos!
Put on your shoes. Put them on!
 

Punctuation to the Rescue!

Because informal commands take the same form as the third-person singular of the present tense, it is helpful to include exclamation points to indicate urgency. You can also include the name of the person you are commanding, followed by a comma. Without the comma, an imperative verb could be confused with a third-person singular present verb. Compare the following sentences, paying careful attention to the different punctuation.

SpanishEnglishVerb Mood
Compra la camisa.
 
She buys the shirt.Present indicative
¡Compra la camisa!
 
Buy the shirt!Informal imperative
Alicia compra la camisa.
 
Alicia buys the shirt.Present indicative
Alicia, compra la camisa.
 
Alicia, buy the shirt.Informal imperative

As you can see, punctuation can really change how a sentence is interpreted.

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