Explanation

Quick Answer

The imperative (el imperativo) is one of the three moods in Spanish, the other two being the indicative and the subjunctive. The imperative mood is used to tell someone to do something in a direct manner. More simply put, sentences in the imperative mood are commands.

Example: Aprende español.(Learn Spanish.)

There are many different types of Spanish commands, including affirmative tú commands, negative tú commands, formal commands, nosotros commands, and indirect commands. This article serves as a quick reference for all the different types of commands. For more detailed information and examples, click on the links above.

Affirmative Commands

We use affirmative commands to tell a friend, classmate, child, pet, or family member the same age as you or younger to do something. To form regular commands, we use the third-person singular form of the present indicative.

Check out the following examples.

examples
Saca la basura.
Take out the trash.
Vive tu vida.
Live your life.

It is important to remember the eight verbs that are irregular in the affirmative command form.

VerbAffirmative Command Form

ser

ir

ve

tener

ten

venir

ven

hacer

haz

decir

di

poner

pon

salir

sal

Negative Commands

Negative commands are used to tell a friend, classmate, child, pet, or family member the same age as you or younger not to do something. To form negative commands, use the form of the present subjunctive and put no, nunca, or another negative word in front of the verb.

Check out the following examples.

examples
Por favor, no llores.
Please don't cry.
No seas malo.
Don't be mean.

Singular Formal (Usted) Commands

Ustedcommands are used to tell someone you don't know well, a person older than you, or a person to whom you want to show deference or respect to do/not to do something. To form both affirmative and negative usted commands, use the third-person singular form of the present subjunctive.

Take a look at the following examples.

examples
Hable lentamente, por favor.
Speak slowly, please.
No llegue tarde.
Don't be late.

Plural Formal (Ustedes) Commands

In Latin America, ustedescommands are used to address any group of people because ustedes is used for both the formal and informal plural. In Spain, ustedes commands are used to address a group of people formally. To form both affirmative and negative ustedes commands, use the third-person plural form of the present subjunctive.

Take a look at the following examples.

examples
Hagan cola, chicos y chicas.
Line up, boys and girls.
Niños, no corran en los pasillos.
Children, don't run in the halls.

Nosotros Commands

Nosotroscommands are used to express what the speaker and others ought to do or shouldn't do. In other words, they are used to say let's or let's not do something. To form both affirmative and negative nosotros commands, use the nosotros form of the present subjunctive.

Take a look at the following examples.

examples
No malgastemos nuestro dinero.
Let's not waste our money.
Pidamos comida para llevar.
Let's order takeout.

Affirmative Vosotros Commands

In Spain, affirmative vosotroscommands are used to tell a group of people you are familiar with to do something. In all other Spanish-speaking countries, we use ustedes commands in both informal and formal situations. To form affirmative vosotros commands, replace the ‐r at the end of the infinitive with a ‐d.

Check out these examples.

examples
Niños, dejad de hablar.
Children, stop talking.
Comed más verduras.
Eat more vegetables.

When using reflexive verbs, we typically attach the reflexive pronoun to the end of the affirmative command. However, with vosotros commands, we need to drop the ‐d before adding the reflexive pronoun os.

Take a look at some examples.

examples

Quedaos allí.
Stay there.

Poneos los guantes.
Put your gloves on.

Negative Vosotros Commands

In Spain, negative vosotros commands are used to tell a group of people you are familiar with not to do something. To form negative vosotros commands, use the vosotros form of the present subjunctive.

Check out these examples.

examples
Estudiantes, no toquéis mis cosas.
Students, don't touch my things.
No hagáis eso.
Don't do that.

Affirmative Vos Commands

Voscommands are used in many parts of the Southern Cone, which is made up of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile. They are also commonly used in Nicaragua and may also be heard in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. The vos form is used in place of the informal form. To form affirmative vos commands, drop the -r from the end of the infinitive and add an accent on the last vowel.

Let's take a look at some examples!

examples
Probá esta sopa.
Try this soup.
Vení acá.
Come here.

The affirmative vos command for the verb iris andá.

Negative Vos Commands

In the Southern Cone, negative vos commands are used just like negative commands to tell a friend, classmate, child, pet, or family member the same age as you or younger not to do something. To form negative vos commands, use the form of the present subjunctive.

Check out these examples.

examples
No esperes a Julia.
Don't wait for Julia.
No te pongas así.
Don't be that way.

Sometimes, people add an accent on the last syllable of these forms (For example: ¡No esperés!¡No te pongás!), but this is considered non-standard.

Indirect Commands

Indirect commands are often used for giving commands through a third party or to an unspecified recipient. You'll see them used in signs, instructions, and recipes. There are two kinds of indirect commands: que commands and infinitive commands.

Que Commands

Que Command Formula

que + present subjunctive

Here are some examples of que commands. Notice how they follow the above formula.

examples
Que tengan un buen fin de semana.
Have a good weekend.
Que venga más tarde.
Have her come later.

Infinitive Commands

  • To form an affirmative infinitive command, simply use the infinitive. Don't conjugate anything!

  • To form a negative infinitive command, simply use the word no and the infinitive. Once again, don't conjugate anything!

examples
No tocar.
No touching.
Batir los huevos.
Beat the eggs.
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