Spanish Commands
Language Resources

Spanish commands, otherwise known as imperatives, are verb forms used to directly address someone and give them an order. Given their nature, commands in Spanish are almost always found in the familiar second person (tú, vosotros).

When forming a command, the verb has different conjugations depending on 3 factors:

  • informal or formal
  • affirmative (do something) or negative (don't do something)
  • singular (giving the order to one person) or plural (more than one person)

Informal Spanish Commands - Affirmative & Negative

Commands are almost always found in the informal - or familiar - form and are used when addressing friends, family, children, coworkers, etc.

Affirmative tú commands

The affirmative "tú" (you) command is fairly easy to learn, in that it is almost always identical to the third person singular form of the Spanish present tense. Basically, you just drop the "-r" off the infinitive and voila! A command is born. The only exception comes into play with verbs ending in "-ir", in which case the ending changes from an i to an e. For example:

verb ending infinitivecommandexample
(to talk)
hablaHabla conmigo.
(Talk with me.)
(to read)
leeLee el libro.
(Read the book.)
(to cover)
cubreCubre la olla.
(Cover the pot.)

This is the case for most "regular" verbs, meaning verbs that generally follow the rules. There are several Spanish verbs, however, that have special forms when used as an affirmative tú command. Here are a few commonly used ones:

verbtú command
(to say, to tell)
diDime cuántos años tienes.
(Tell me how old you are.)
(to do, to make)
hazHaz la cama.
(Make the bed.)
(to go)
(Go away.)
(to put, to place)
ponPonlo en mi habitación.
(Put it in my room.)
(to go out, to leave)
salSal de aquí.
(Get out of here.)
(to be)
Sé un buen chico.
(Be a good boy.)
(to have)
tenTen cuidado.
(Be careful.)
(to come)
venVen a mi casa.
(Come to my house.)

Negative tú commands

To form a negative command (don't do that, don't run, etc.), the tú form of the present subjunctive is used.

Here are some examples of informal negative commands, using the same verbs (hablar, leer and cubrir) from earlier.

verb ending infinitivetú command
(to talk)
no hablesNo hables conmigo.
(Don't talk with me.)
(to read)
no leasNo leas el libro.
(Don't read the book.)
(to cover)
no cubrasNo cubras la olla.
(Don't cover the pot.)

Formal Spanish Commands - Affirmative and Negative

Formal commands, which are used to be polite or express respect towards the person you are addressing, are formed by using the third person form (usted) of the present subjunctive. This applies to affirmative and negative formal commands.
*** Learn how to conjugate verbs into the subjunctive: Spanish subjunctive

For example:

verb ending infinitiveformal command
formal command
(to talk)
No hable.
(Don't talk.)
(to read)
No lea.
(Don't read.)
(to cover)
No cubra.
(Don't cover.)
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