Lesson 19:
The Imperative

THE IMPERATIVE

The imperative is the verb form used to give commands, order, mandate, suggestion and instructions. It is divided into:

DIRECT IMPERATIVE

Formal Commands (usted and ustedes)

Familiar Command (tú)

INDIRECT IMPERATIVE

Command we (nosotros)

DIRECT IMPERATIVE

Formal Commands (usted and ustedes)

Formal commands “usted” and “ustedes” are used with persons that you are unfamiliar with, or to persons of high respect, including elders. Ustedes is also used to express the plural of “tú”.

The formal commands is formed from the “yo” form of the present tense. The final “-o” is changed as follows:

Usted Ustedes
-o -ar verbs e en
-o -er verbs a an
-o -ir verbs a an

Example:

Verb Present tense Usted commands Ustedes commands
Estudiar yo estudio estudie estudien
Tener yo tengo tenga tengan
Oìr yo oigo oiga oigan

NOTE:

The vowel of the endings of the command forms is the opposite of the vowel endings of the él / ella / usted form of the present tense: -e for -ar verbs, and -a for -er and -ir verbs.

The subject pronoun usted / ustedes follows the verb.

In Latin American Spanish, ustedes can be formal or informal familiar.

To form the negative command, place “no” before the verb.

Example:

No griten.
Don’t shout.

No salga ahora.
Don’t leave now.

Coma todas sus verduras. (singular)
Eat all your vegetables.

Ponga los libros en su lugar. (singular)
Put the books in place.

Tenga más cuidado al caminar. (singular)
Be more careful when walking.

Digan toda la verdad. (plural)
Tell all the truth.

Lleven más dinero al viaje. (plural)
Bring more money to travel.

Escuchen a la maestra. (plural)
Listen to the teacher.

The stem-changing verbs follow the same rule, it is formed from the “yo” form of the present tense. Only the final “-o” is changed.

Example:

Verb Present tense Usted command Ustedes command
Pensar yo pienso piense piensen
Medir yo mido mida midan
Contar yo cuento cuente cuenten

The verbs that end in -zar, -car and -gar have spelling changes in the command forms. The spelling change in the verbs occurs to keep the original sound in the infinitive form.

-zar -ce / -cen

-car -que / -quen

-gar -gue / -guen

Example:

Verb Present tense Usted command Ustedes command
Comenzar yo comienzo comience comiencen
Practicar yo practico practique practiquen
Llegar yo llego llegue lleguen

The irregular verbs of the formal commands are the followings:

Verb Present tense Usted command Ustedes command
Dar yo doy den
Estar yo estoy esté estén
Ir yo voy vaya vayan
Ser yo soy sea sean
Saber yo sé sepa sepan

NOTE: has an accent mark to distinguish it from “de”, the preposition “of” and esté / estén, and also indicates that the stress falls on the last syllable.

 

Informal Commands (tú) (affirmatively form)

Informal commands are used with those people you normally address with the “tú” form: friends, classmates, parents and pets.

The conjugation of “tú” commands is the same as the él form of the present tense.

Example:

Verb Present tense Tú commands
Abrir él abre abre
Cerrar él cierra cierra
Dar él da da
Hablar él habla habla
Example:

Abre las ventanas.
Open the windows.

Come más despacio.
Eat more slowly.

Trae las servilletas.
Bring the napkins.

Prepara la comida temprano.
Prepare the meal early.

The irregular verbs of the informal command “tú” are the following:

Verb Present tense Tú commands
Decir él dice di
Hacer él hace haz
Ir él va ve
Poner él pone pon
Salir él sale sal
Ser él es
Tener él tiene ten
Venir él viene ven
Example:

Di la verdad siempre.
Tell the truth always.

Ve a la escuela todos los días.
Go to school every day.

Sé amable con todos.
Be kind to everyone.

Ten cuidado con lo que dices.
Be careful with what you say.

Informal Commands (tú) (negatively)

The negative form of the imperative “tú” takes the form of the imperative “usted” and adds “s” to the verb conjugation, and of course, we put the negative word “no”.

Verb Present tense Usted commands Negative tú commands
Decir yo digo diga no digas
Abrir yo abro abra no abras
Cerrar yo cierro cierre no cierres
Dar yo doy no des
Hablar yo hablo hable no hables
Example:

No dejes que se sienten allí.
Do not let them sit there.

No te pongas esa blusa.
Do not wear that blouse.

No comas chocolates.
Do not eat chocolates.

No le grites al niño.
Do not yell at the child.

No saques al perro al jardín.
Do not bring the dog to the garden.

Position of complement pronouns and reflexive pronouns:

Used after the verb when the order, suggestion or instruction is in the affirmative form.

Example:

Verb Usted commands Ustedes commands Tú commands
Bañarse báñese báñense báñate
Acostarse acuéstese acuéstense acuéstate
Comerlo cómalo cómanlo cómelo
Ayudarle ayúdele ayúdenle ayúdale

Example:

Verb Negative usted commands Negative ustedes commands Negative tú commands
Bañarse no se bañe no se bañen no te bañes
Acostarse no se acueste no se acuesten no te acuestes
Comerlo no lo coma no lo coman no lo comas
Ayudarle no le ayude no le ayuden no le ayudes

INDIRECT IMPERATIVE

COMMAND: “WE” (NOSOTROS)

The command “nosotros” is an indirect imperative, which means that it is not directed at a specific person, but at a group of people who you are including.

To form the command “nosotros”, we take the imperative “usted” and add the end “mos”

Example:

Verb Present tense Usted commands Nosotros commands
Comprar yo compro compre compremos
Hacer yo hago haga hagamos
Ir yo voy vaya vayamos
Llegar yo llego llegue lleguemos
Tocar yo toco toque toquemos

Stem-changing verbs

The verbs that have a radical change in the present tense that end in “-ar/-er”, in the imperative form do not change.

Example:

Verb Present tense Usted commands Nosotros commands
Mostrar yo muestro muestre mostremos
Cerrar yo cierro cierre cerremos
Entender yo entiendo entienda entendamos
Volver yo vuelvo vuelva volvamos

But the verbs that have a radical change in the present tense that ends in “-ir”, in the command “nosotros”, change as follow:

e = ie in command we change into e = i

o = ue in command we change into o = u

e = i it has the same change e = i it’s the same

Example:

Verb Present tense Usted commands Nosotros commands
Mentir yo miento mienta mintamos
Dormir yo duermo duerma durmamos
Repetir yo repito repita repitamos

Position of reflexive pronouns:

The reflexive pronouns are those that use the reflexive verbs.

Here we use the imperative form “nosotros” in which we replace the final letter “s” and add the reflexive form “nos”, putting an accent on the second vowel before the pronoun “nos”.

The rule applies only to the imperative form “nosotros” in the affirmative form.

Example:

Verb Nostros commands
(imperative form)
Nostros commands
(reflexive form)
Sentarse sentemos sentémonos
Dormirse durmamos durmámonos
Irse vayamos vayámonos

In the negative form, the imperative “nosotros”, use the pronoun “nos” before the verb.

Example:

Verb Nosotros commands Negative Nosotros commands
Sentarse sentemos no nos sentemos
Dormirse durmamos no nos durmamos
Irse vayamos no nos vayamos