Grammar Tip | Spanish Imperative

Spanish Grammar Tip

El imperativo (the Spanish imperative) is a verbal form that speakers use to give orders, advice or make requests and suggestions to one or more people directly.

The Spanish imperative features the second-person both singular and plural (you / you lot), the first-person plural (we), as well as the polite formal second-person singular and plural (you polite / you lot polite). Also, it must be noted that all imperative forms are conjugated without personal pronoun and only used in reference to the present, same as in English.

The affirmative imperative of the second-person singular, (you), is formed by removing the -s from the present tense -form of the verb, as follows:

parar (to stop) = paras (you stop) → ¡Para! (Stop!)

comer (to eat) = comes (you eat) → ¡Come! (Eat!)

repetir (to repeat) = repites (you repeat) → ¡Repite! (Repeat!)

Despite this, a few Spanish verbs present irregular imperative -forms:

Infinitivo Imperativo
decir (to say) ¡Di!
hacer (to do/make) ¡Haz!
ir (to go) ¡Ve!
poner (to put) ¡Pon!
salir (to leave/go out) ¡Sal!
ser (to be) ¡Sé!
tenir (to have) ¡Ten!
venir (to come) ¡Ven!

 

The positive imperative for more than one person, i.e. vosotros/as (you lot), is formed by replacing the -r of the infinitive form with a -d, as shown below:

cantar (to sing) → ¡Cantad! [Sing (you lot)!]

beber (to drink) → ¡Bebed! [Drink (you lot)!]

venir (to come) → ¡Venid! [Come (you lot)!]

Formal polite commands to a single person (usted) or multiple people (ustedes) are expressed using the present subjunctive of the third-person singular and plural, respectively, in such way:

saltar (to jump) → ¡Salte! (Jump!) // ¡Salten! [(You lot) jump!]

coger (to catch) → ¡Coja! (Catch!) // ¡Cojan! [(You lot) catch!]

subir (to go up) → ¡Suba! (Go up!) // ¡Suban! [(You lot) go up!]

Similarly, the present subjunctive is used to express orders or advice to a group of people in which the speaker is included (nosotros/as = we) as well as negative commands for all the pronouns seen so far. Here are some examples:

cruzar (to cross) → ¡Crucemos! (Let’s cross!) // ¡Sigamos! (Let’s follow!)

Spanish Imperative: verb girar (to turn)

Pronouns Negative Imperative (no + present subjunctive)
(you) ¡No gires!
Usted (you polite) ¡No gire!
Nosotros/as (we) ¡No giremos!
Vosotros/as (you lot) ¡No giréis!
Ustedes (you lot polite) ¡No giren!

 

Furthermore, when it comes to reflexive pronouns (i.e. me, te, se, nos, os, se) as with reflexive verbs, direct object pronouns (i.e. me, te, lo/la, nos, os, los/las) or indirect object ones (i.e. me, te, le, nos, os, les) with any verbs, these pronouns are to be attached to the end of the positive imperative forms.

Let’s look at some examples:

Das un libro a ella (you give a book to her) → ¡Dáselo! (Give it to her!)

Se lavan las manos (they wash their hands) → ¡Lávenselas! [Wash them!] (You lot polite)

However, note that the affirmative imperative vosotros/as-forms of reflexive verbs lose the -d before the os pronoun:

vestirse (to get dressed) → ¡Vestios! [Get dressed (you lot)!]

despertarse (to wake up) → ¡Despertaos! [Wake up (you lot)!]

Lastly, when commands are negative, these pronouns are placed between the negation no and the imperative form of the verb, as in the following examples:

Das un libro a ella (you give a book to her) → ¡No se lo des! (Don’t give it to her!)

Se lavan las manos (they wash their hands) → ¡No se las laven! [Don’t wash them!] (you lot polite)


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