Direct Commands

  1. In general:

    Commands [mandatos], or imperatives, are a special type of verb form used in addressing someone directly and giving them an order. In English the subject is almost never expressed, although for contrast “yourself” may be added to the end. In Spanish, the subject pronoun is frequently used for formal commands (usted, ustedes), and may be used for the and vosotros commands for emphasis or contrast.

    Hable usted más despacio, por favor.     Please speak slower.
    Pasen ustedes. Come on in.
    Hazlo ; no quiero que lo haga él. Do it (yourself); I don't want him to do it.

    If an exclamation point is used at the end of the sentence, an inverted one must be placed at the beginning

    ¡No me mires!                   Don't look at me!

  2. Placement of object pronouns:

    In all affirmative commands, object pronouns are attached to the end of the verb; they are placed immediately before the verb in negative commands:

    ¡Dámelo!                   Give it to me! 
    ¡No me lo des! Don't give it to me!

    Note:

    1. Indirect object pronouns come before direct object pronouns. Remember that le or les change to se if they come before lo, la, los or las.
    2. The addition of object pronouns to the end of a command form requires the use of a written accent mark over the stressed syllable of the verb form if that syllable is followed by two or more syllables. [The 4A rule may be of help.]

  3. Formation of the imperative:

    All commands except affirmative and vosotros are based on the subjunctive. For an explanation of how to derive these forms, see a separate handout on the subjunctive.

    1. Affirmative commands:

      For the vast majority of verbs, the affirmative command is identical to the third person singular of the present indicative:

      ¡Habla en voz alta!                    Speak up!
      ¡Come con nosotros! Eat with us!
      ¡Vive bien! Live well!

      The following verbs have special affirmative command forms:

      decir    (to say, tell):    di    Dime la verdad.    Tell me the truth.
      hacer (to do, make): haz  Hazlo mañana. Do it tomorrow.
      ir (to go): ve Vete. Scram. (Leave.)
      poner (to put, place): pon Ponlo aquí. Put it here.
      salir (to leave, go out): sal Sal en sequida. Leave immediately. 
      ser (to be): Sé bueno. Be good.
      tener (to have): ten Ten cuidado. Be careful.
      venir (to come): ven Ven acá. Come here.

    2. Negative commands:

      Negative commands use the form of the present subjunctive:

      No me hables así.        Don't talk to me like that.
      No comas tanto. Don't eat so much.
      No vivas allí. Don't live there.
      No hagas nada. Don't do anything.
      ¡No vengas! Don't come!

      [For affirmative/negative tú commands, see also the rule “If yes remove the s; if no, subjuntivo.”]

    3. Affirmative vosotros commands: To form the affirmative vosotros command, drop the -r of the infinitive and add -d. This -d is omitted if the pronoun os (yourselves) is appended to the verb (which will require a written accent over the -i- of -ir verbs: ¡Reuníos!).

      Hablad en voz alta.      Speak aloud.
      Comed con nosotros. Eat with us.
      Vivid en paz. Live in peace.
      Id. Go.
      Dadme algo. Give me something.
      Sentaos aquí. Sit down here. (Note the omission of the -d.)

    4. Negative vosotros commands:

      Use the vosotros form of the present subjunctive to form negative vosotros commands:

      No me habléis ahora.         Don't speak to me now.
      No comáis los tacos. Don't eat the tacos.
      No viváis así. Don't live like that.

    5. Usted and ustedes commands (affirmative and negative):

      All formal commands are based on the third person forms of the present subjunctive. The plural forms are the same as the singular except for the addition of an -n.

      Affirmative commands (usted and ustedes):

      ¡Hable! ¡Coma! ¡Viva!          Speak! Eat! Live!   (singular)
      ¡Hablen! ¡Coman! ¡Vivan! Speak! Eat! Live! (plural)

    6. Negative commands (usted and ustedes):

      ¡No hable! ¡No coma! ¡No viva!     Don't speak! Don't eat! Don't live!   (singular)
      ¡No hablen! ¡No coman! ¡No vivan! Don't speak! Don't eat! Don't live! (plural)

      More examples of formal commmands follow. Note the position of negatives, and subject and object pronouns.

      No le nada.      Don't give him anything.   (singular)
      Dígale algo. Tell him something. (singular)
      Venga usted pronto. Come soon. (singular)
      ¡Váyanse! Get out of here! (plural)
      Búsquenlo ustedes. Look for it. (plural)
      ¡Nunca lo hagan! Never do it! (plural)

[Practice: Informal commandsFormal commands]

[S210 Main Page]


Contact: Fred F. Jehle

Home: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/

Indiana University - Purdue University Ft. Wayne
Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499 USA

URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/commands.htm