Overview

Formal commands are used when addressing people in a formal manner. Use formal commands when addressing people you do not know well, people older than you, or people that you generally show respect (boss, teacher, priest, etc.) For all countries other than Spain, also use these commands to address any group of people.

Singular (usted)

  • Pague la cuenta, por favor. (Pay the bill, please.)
  • Sea amable. (Be nice.)
  • Abra la ventana. (Open the window.)

Plural (ustedes)

  • Damas y caballeros, pasen por aquí. (Ladies and gentlemen, go this way.)
  • Vengan más temprano mañana. (Come earlier tomorrow.)
  • Estudiantes, abran sus libros. (Students, open your books.)

Affirmative Formal Command Forms

All Ud. (usted) and Uds. (ustedes) commands are the same as the Ud. and Uds. present subjunctive forms.

infinitive usted present subjunctive usted formal command ustedes present subjunctive ustedes formal command
hablar hable hable hablen hablen
comer coma coma coman coman
vivir viva viva vivan vivan

Irregular present subjunctive forms can be found in the article on the present subjunctive.

Pronoun Placement in Affirmative Formal Commands

Pronoun placement: the pronoun(s) is/are attached to the end of affirmative commands. To preserve the original stress of the verb in case it has more than one syllable, a written accent is added.

  • Tráigamelo. (Bring it to me.)
  • Cómalo. (Eat it.)

Negative Formal Commands

Negative formal commands couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is add a negative word such as no in front of the affirmative formal command/usted present subjunctive form.

  • No saquen sus libros. (Do not take out your books.)
  • No ponga su bolsa aquí. (Do not put your purse here.)
  • No vengan mañana. (Do not come tomorrow.)

Pronoun Placement in Negative Formal Commands

Pronoun placement: the pronoun precedes the verb in negative commands and follows the negative word.

  • No se levante antes de leer el artículo. (Don’t get up before you read the article.)
  • Nunca les compre dulces a los niños. (Never buy candy for the children.)
  • Nunca se los compre. (Never buy it for them.)

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