Commands or imperative as verb forms are used to give an order or to address a person. These verbs are in the second person form such as “vosotros” or “tu”. Several factors affect the conjugation of verbs used as imperatives.
A command may be found in formal, informal, affirmative, negative, singular and plural form.
Informal “Tu” Commands (Affirmative)
When the command is addressed to family, colleagues, friends, and familiar people, the verb form is informal. Affirmative informal commands come with the singular, third person form. However, this only applies to regular verbs or action words that follow the basic grammar rules.
In expressing affirmative commands, simply drop the “r” form the infinitive verb. Regular verbs that end in “ir” should have the ending letter in “e”.
a. cantar (to sing) – Canta para mi. (Sing for me.)
b. marchar (to walk) – Marcha conmigo. (Walk with me.)
c. hablar (to talk) – Habla con ella. (Talk to her.)
d. comer (to eat) – Come con nosotros. (Eat with us.)
e. leer (to read) – Lee los signos. (Read the signs.)
f. abrir (to open) – Abre la puerta. (Open the door.)
g. cubrir (to cover) – Cubre el vaso. (Cover the cup.)
The following are affirmative commands that use irregular Spanish verbs.
a. decir (to tell) – Dime donde estas. (Tell me where you are.)
b. hacer (to make) – Haz una excusa. (Make an excuse.)
c. poner (to put) – Ponlo en la mesa. (Put it on the table.)
d. ser (to be) – Se una buena chica. (Be a good girl.)
e. venir (to come) – Ven a mi clinica. (Come to my clinic.)
f. ir (to go) – Vete a casa. (Go home.)
g. tener (to have) – Ten cuidado. (Be careful.)
Informal or “Tu” Commands (Negative)
Negative “tu” commands are formed by using the present subjunctive. Moreover, the word “no” is added in the beginning of the command.
a. hablar – No hables con nosotros. (Do not talk to us.)
b. leer – No leas el cuaderno. (Do not read the notebook.)
c. cubrir – No cubras las ventanas. (Do not cover the windows.)
d. fumar – No fumes aqui. (Do not smoke here.)
e. abrir – no abras la puerta. (Do not open the door.)
Formal commands are used to express respect or politeness to a person being addressed. These commands are suitable for a situation when the command is directed to a person in authority.
In addition, formal commands use the third person form or “usted” of the present subjunctive. The rule applies to negative and affirmative commands.
In the following examples, simply add “no” at the beginning of the command to create a negative formal command.
a. estudiar (to study) – Estudie las lecciones. (Study the lessons.)
b. beber (to drink) – Beba el agua. (Drink the water.)
c. abrir (to open) – Abra el libro. (Open the book.)
d. escribir (to write) – Escriba en el cuaderno. (Write in the notebook.)
Helpful Guide in Forming Commands of Regular Verbs
Conjugations may be a bit difficult for those who are trying to learn the Spanish language. The following can serve as a guide when forming commands of common, regular verbs. For more information on Spanish Verb Conjugation click on the link.
1. Hablar – to speak
Tu (informal, singular) – habla; no habla
Usted (formal, singular) – hable; no hable
Vosotros (informal, singular) – hablad; no hableis
Ustedes (formal, plural) – hablen; no hablen
2. Comer – to eat
Tu (informal, singular) – come; no comas
Usted (formal, singular) – coma; no coma
Vosotros (informal, plural) – comed; no comais
Ustedes (formal, plural) – coman; no coman
3. Escribir – to write
Tu (informal, singular) – escribe; no escribas
Usted (formal, singular) – escriba; no escriba
Vosotros (informal, plural) – escribid; no escribais
Ustedes (formal, plural) – escriban; no escriban
You can also try to be familiar with many Spanish regular and irregular verbs, so you will have the ease in forming affirmative and negative commands.
Test Your Skills!
Instruction: Form the command for the supplied pronoun and verb.
1. Bring the book.
(traer) __________ usted el libro.
2. Dial the numbers.
(marcar) ___________ tu los numeros.
3. Buy the food.
(comprar) __________ ustedes la comida.
4. Do not go with her.
(ir) No _____________ vosotros con ella.
5. Do not come back.
(volver) No __________ usted.
6. Bring the car.
(traer) ___________ tu el coche.
7. Do not turn left.
(doblar) No _________ vosotros a la izquierda.
8. Do not sleep, please.
(dormir) No _________ ustedes, por favor.
9. Do not cry.
(llorar) No __________ tu.
10. Buy that house.
(comprar) __________ usted esa casa.