Spanish Imperative Mood – The Ultimate Guide

What is the Spanish imperative mood? Just like in English, it is the grammatical form of verbs used to express simple commands, such as “go”, “stay”, “wash your hands”, “don’t smoke”, etc. 

In your native language, you use this structure daily to:

  • give instructions and orders
  • make simple requests
  • offer suggestions 
  • express prohibitions 

In English, the imperative mood is a piece of cake. 

Call me”, “don’t call me” – all you need to know is the core verb form and the negative auxiliary. 

Spanish imperative mood, however,  is way more complex than English, and to be able to use it correctly you will not only have to remember verb conjugations but also the so-dreaded subjunctive forms. 

In today’s post, I’ll explain with lots of examples all you need to know about the Spanish imperative mood. 

Positive Spanish Imperative Mood of Regular Verbs

First of all, let’s clarify that the imperative mood can be divided into two categories: positive and negative. 

The positive imperative is when you tell people what to do. 

The negative imperative is when you tell them what not to do. 

How to Form the Imperative Form for “Tú”

The most common use of the positive imperative is to give instructions and commands to another person. In Spanish it can be “” or – in a more formal context – “usted”. 

Both are equivalent to the English “you”. 

Let’s start with the Spanish positive imperative mood for the pronoun “”. 

How is it formed in the case of regular verbs?

🔔 As you can see in the table below, for the -AR and the -ER verbs, you simply eliminate the letter “R” from the infinitive. And for the -IR verbs, you also replace the last “I” with an “E”. 

Have a look:

The – AR verbsThe -ER verbsThe -IR verbs
¡trabaja! – work!
¡regresa! – come back!
¡lava! – wash!
¡envía! – send!
¡escucha! – listen!
¡come! – eat!
¡corre! – run!
¡bebe! – drink!
¡entiende! – understand!
¡lee! – read!
¡describe! – describe!
¡añade! – add!
¡elige! – choose!
¡escribe! – write!
¡decide! – decide!

🇪🇸 Amor, por favor regresa a casa temprano hoy. Vienen mis padres a visitarnos. 
🇬🇧 Darling, please come home early today. My parents are coming to visit. 

🇪🇸 Come la sopa y después te daré el postre. 
🇬🇧 Eat your soup and then I will give you dessert. 

🇪🇸 Añade un poco más de sal. 
🇬🇧 Add a little more salt. 

🇪🇸 Lava tus manos antes de almorzar. 
🇬🇧 Wash your hands before lunch. 

🇪🇸 Hijo, entiende por favor que ya es tarde y tienes que acostarte. 
🇬🇧 Son, please understand that it is late and it is time for you to go to sleep. 

🇪🇸 Podemos viajar a Colombia o a Ecuador. Elige lo que tú prefieres. 
🇬🇧 We can travel to Colombia or Ecuador. Choose whatever you prefer. 

🇪🇸 María, envía esta carta hoy, bueno?
🇬🇧 María, send this letter today, will you?

How to Form the Imperative Form for 3rd Person Singular and Plural

As we’ve said before, the formal version of “you” in Spanish is the pronoun “usted”. Grammatically speaking it conjugates as the 3rd person singular, and its imperative form is the same as for “él” or “ella”. 

🔔 What is the rule here? The imperative form is the same as the present subjunctive form, which means two things: 

  1. Take away the “R” from the infinitive. 
  2. Replace the final “A” with “E” and vice versa.

The “usted” imperative form of the -AR verbs will end in “E”, while the -ER and -IR verbs will now take up the letter “A”. 

🇪🇸 Test Your Spanish Knowledge 🇪🇸

How about the 3rd person plural, i.e. “ustedes”, “ellos” or “ellas”? Their imperative form follows the exact same rule, but it also requires you to add the letter “N” at the end. 

Spanish Imperative  – Examples with “Usted” and “Ustedes”

🇪🇸 Por favor, coma un poco más. – usted
🇬🇧 Please, eat some more. 

🇪🇸 Si no quiere perder su vuelo, ¡corra! – usted
🇬🇧 If you don’t want to miss your flight, run!

🇪🇸 Lea mi oferta. Estoy seguro que le gustará. – usted
🇬🇧 Read my offer. I’m sure you’ll like it. 

🇪🇸 Describa al ladrón, por favor. – usted
🇬🇧 Describe the thief, please.

🇪🇸 ¡Regresen pronto! Los vamos a extrañar. – ustedes
🇬🇧 Come back soon! We’re going to miss you.   

🇪🇸 Beban un poco más de agua. – ustedes
🇬🇧 Drink / have some more water.  

🇪🇸 Decidan ustedes. O hacemos la prueba hoy o mañana – ustedes
🇬🇧 It is your call. We can either have the test today or tomorrow. 

🇪🇸 Añaden sus comentarios al libro de sugerencias. – ustedes
🇬🇧 Add your comments to the suggestion book. 

Spanish Imperative  – Examples with “Él”, “Ella”, “Ellos”, “Ellas”

Frankly speaking, this imperative form is not very common in everyday conversations. We don’t usually give instructions to the 3rd person unless we turn it into reported speech

 🔔If you want to use the Spanish imperative mood in the 3rd person, singular or plural, you’ll have to remember about adding the word “qué”, just like in the examples below: 

🇪🇸 ¡Qué viva la Reina! – ella
🇬🇧 Long live the Queen!

🇪🇸 Juan, que tu hermano escuche mi mensaje de voz, por favor.  – él
🇬🇧 Juan, have your brother listen to my voice message, please. 

🇪🇸 Oye, que tu marido decida si nos quiere acompañar o no. – él
🇬🇧 Listen, have your husband decide whether he wants to join us or not. 

🇪🇸 ¡Qué tus amigas canten algo! – ellas
🇬🇧 Why don’t your girlfriends sing something?

🇪🇸 Alicia, qué todos los alumnos regresen a la sala, por favor. – ellos
🇬🇧 Alicia, have all the students go back to the classroom, please

How to Form the Imperative Form for “Nosotros”

Let’s go! Let’s dance! Let’s eat! – this is how you use the imperative mood in English for the pronoun “we”. 

It is a great way to make suggestions about what you, together with other people, can do. 

🔔 The “E”/”A” swap remains in order:

🇪🇸 Están tocando mi canción favorita. ¡Bailemos! 
🇬🇧 They are playing my favorite song. Let’s dance!

🇪🇸 Comamos fuera esta noche. No tengo ganas de cocinar. 
🇬🇧 Let’s eat out tonight. I don’t feel like cooking.

🇪🇸 Abramos la ventana, bueno? Hace mucho calor aquí.  
🇬🇧 Let’s open the window, shall we? It is very hot here. 

🇪🇸 Pensemos todos como solucionar este problema. 
🇬🇧 Let’s all think about how to solve this problem. 

🇪🇸 ¡Vendamos el auto viejo y compremos uno nuevo! 
🇬🇧 Let’s sell the old car and buy a new one!

🇪🇸 Definamos la estrategia de ventas para el próximo año.
🇬🇧 Let’s define our sales strategy for the next year. 

🇪🇸 ¡Movamos esta mesa al jardin!
🇬🇧 Let’s move this table to the garden!

🇪🇸 ¡Volvamos a este lugar! ¡Es tan bello! 
🇬🇧 Let’s come back to this place. It is so pretty!

How to Form the Imperative Form for “Vosotros”

One of the main differences between Latin Spanish and Spain Spanish is the use of the informal 2nd person plural: “vosotros”.

🔔 In Latin American countries this person is replaced with “ustedes” which can be both casual and formal. 

For those of you, who want to speak as the Spaniards do, here’s how you form the imperative mood for “vosotros”:

The – AR verbsThe -ER verbsThe -IR verbs
vosotros¡bailad! – dance!
¡pensad! – think!
¡terminad! – finish!
¡escuchad! – listen!
¡comprad! – buy!
¡comed! – eat!
¡volved! – return!
¡leed! – read!
¡moved! – move!
¡vended! – sell!
¡abrid! – open!
¡escribid! – write!
¡decidid! – decide!
¡admitid! – admit!
¡definid! – define!

🔔 As you can see, it is quite simple: all you need to do is to replace the “R” from the infinitive with the letter “D”.

🇪🇸 Niños, ¡pensad! ¿Dónde estaba este juguete ayer? 
🇬🇧 Kids, think! Where was this toy yesterday?

🇪🇸 Si quieren ver tele, termidad su tarea primero.
🇬🇧 If you want to watch TV, finish your homework first. 

🇪🇸 Pedro, Carlos, admitid que no estudiaron para el examen. 
🇬🇧 Pedro, Carlos, admit you didn’t study for the exam.  

🇪🇸 Todos leed el primer capítulo del libro para mañana. 
🇬🇧 All of you, please read the first chapter of the book for tomorrow. 

🇪🇸 Amigos, comprad las acciones de esta empresa, es una excelente oportunidad. 
🇬🇧 Friends, buy the stocks of this company, it is an excellent opportunity. 

🇪🇸 Niños, abrid sus libros en la página 21. 
🇬🇧 Children, open your books on page 21.  

Negative Spanish Imperative Mood of Regular Verbs

Until now, we have only seen positive commands in Spanish. 

Time for the negative imperative, which is used to express prohibitions and things we don’t want other people to do:

The -AR verbs(trabajar)The – ER verbs(comer)The – IR verbs(abrir)
no trabajesno comasno abras
él, ella, ustedno trabajeno comano abre
nosotrosno trabajemosno comamosno abramos
vosotrosno trabajéisno comáisno abráis
ellos, ellas, ustedesno trabajenno comanno abran

If you compare the Spanish negative imperative form with the positive one, you’ll quickly realize that in most cases they are the same, except for the particle “NO”. 

🔔 Unfortunately, this is not the case for “” and “vosotros”. These two personal pronouns require further letter shifting. 

The positive “¡trabaja!” (“work!”) becomes “no trabajes” (“don’t work!”)

“¡Coma” (“eat!”) turns into “no comes” (“don’t eat!”) 

🔔 In the case of “vosotros”, there is a similar swap between the “A” and the “E”, which now have an accent and are followed by the “- IS” ending. 

So, the positive “¡trabajad!” changes its form to the negative “¡no trabajéis!”, “¡comed!” to “¡no comáis” and “¡abrid!” (“open!”) to “¡no abráis” (“don’t open!”).

Have a look at the examples below:

🇪🇸 Papá, no trabajes tanto.
🇬🇧 Dad, don’t work so much. 

🇪🇸 Hijo, no comas tantos dulces.
🇬🇧 Son, don’t eat so many sweets. 

🇪🇸 No compre este bote, está demasiado dañado. usted
🇬🇧 Don’t buy this boat, it is too damaged.

🇪🇸 No responda a esta pregunta sin su abogado. usted
🇬🇧 Don’t answer this question without your lawyer.

🇪🇸 No comamos todavía, es demasiado temprano. nosotros
🇬🇧 Let’s not eat yet, it is too early. 

🇪🇸 No mencionemos este tema nunca más. nosotros
🇬🇧 Let’s not mention this topic ever again. 

🇪🇸 Niños, no abráis la puerta a los extraños. vosotros
🇬🇧 Carla, don’t open the door to strangers. 

🇪🇸 Amigos, no habláis tan fuerte, por favor. vosotros
🇬🇧 Friends, don’t talk so loudly, please. 

🇪🇸 No entren aquí, es solo para los empleados. ustedes
🇬🇧 Don’t enter here, it is staff only.

🇪🇸 No levanten la mano si no saben la respuesta. ustedes
🇬🇧 Don’t raise your hand if you don’t know the answer

Spanish Imperative Mood – 10 Key Irregular Verbs

Every rule has its exceptions, and so does the imperative mood. 

🔔 If you are familiar with the subjunctive form, you already know what the irregular verbs are in that structure. 

And since the imperative mood relies heavily on the subjunctive, the exceptions here are going to be the same:

Ser – To Be

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
no seas
él, ella, ustedseano sea
nosotrosseamosno seamos
vosotrossedno seáis
ellos, ellas, ustedesseanno sean

🇪🇸 Sé feliz.
🇬🇧 Be happy.

🇪🇸 Seamos francos. 
🇬🇧 Let’s be frank/honest. 

🇪🇸 No seáis tímidos, niños. 
🇬🇧 Don’t be shy, kids.

🇪🇸 No seamos tan pesimistas. 
🇬🇧 Let’s not be so pessimistic. 

Tener – To Have

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
tenno tengas
él, ella, ustedtengano tenga
nosotrostengamosno tengamos
vosotrostenedno tengáis
ellos, ellas, ustedestenganno tengan

🇪🇸 Ten paciencia.
🇬🇧 Be patient. (literally: have patience)

🇪🇸 No tenga usted miedo. 
🇬🇧 Don’t be scared. (literally: don´t have fear) 

🇪🇸 Tengamos fé en que todo salga bien. 
🇬🇧 Let’s hope everything turns out fine.

🇪🇸 Tened cuidado, niños.  
🇬🇧 Be careful, kids. 

Ir – To Go

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
veno vayas
él, ella, ustedvayano vaya
nosotrosvayamosno vayamos
vosotrosidno vayáis
ellos, ellas, ustedesvayanno vayan

🇪🇸 Ve al almacén y compra una caja de leche, por favor. 
🇬🇧 Go to the store and buy a carton of milk, please. 

🇪🇸 Si usted quiere visitar Punta Cana, no vaya en octubre. Es temporada de huracanes. 
🇬🇧 If you want to visit Punta Cana, don’t go in October. It is the hurricane season. 

🇪🇸 Niños, no vayáis solos a ese lugar. Es peligroso.  
🇬🇧 Kids, don’t go to that place by yourselves. It is dangerous. 

🇪🇸 Vaya usted en tren, no en bus. 
🇬🇧 Go by train, not bus. 

🔔 Please note that the word “¡vaya” is also a common Spanish interjection, which you can use whenever you want to say “wow!”

🇪🇸 ¡Vaya! ¡Qué lugar tan hermoso! 
🇬🇧 Wow, what a beautiful place!

Decir – To Say, To Tell

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
dino digas
él, ella, usteddigano diga
nosotrosdigamosno digamos
vosotrosdecidno digáis
ellos, ellas, ustedesdiganno digan

🇪🇸 No digas nada.
🇬🇧 Don’t say anything. 

🇪🇸 Solo digamos que no fue la mejor idea. 
🇬🇧 Let’s just say it was not the best idea. 

🇪🇸 Juan, Lucas, ¡decid toda la verdad!
🇬🇧 Juan, Lucas, tell all the truth!

🇪🇸 No digan que no les advertimos.  
🇬🇧 Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

Poner(se) – To Put / To Become

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
ponno pongas
él, ella, ustedpongano ponga
nosotrospongamosno pongamos
vosotrosponedno pongáis
ellos, ellas, ustedesponganno pongan

🇪🇸 Pon tus zapatos acá.
🇬🇧 Put your shoes here. 

🇪🇸 No se ponga demasiado exigente. 
🇬🇧 Don’t get too demanding.  

🇪🇸 Niños, no pongáis vuestros juguetes en la mesa del comedor. 
🇬🇧 Kids, don’t put your toys on the dining table. 

🇪🇸 Pongamos un poco de música.  
🇬🇧 Let’s put on some music. 

Salir – To Go Out

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
salno salgas
él, ella, ustedsalgano salga
nosotrossalgamosno salgamos
vosotrossalidno salgáis
ellos, ellas, ustedessalganno salgan

🇪🇸 ¡Sal de mi cuarto!
🇬🇧 Get out of my room!

🇪🇸 No salga sola de noche.  
🇬🇧 Don’t go out by yourself at night. 

🇪🇸 Salgamos de aquí. 
🇬🇧 Let’s get out of here. 

🇪🇸 Niños, ¡no salgáis sin mí!
🇬🇧 Kids, don’t go out without me!

Venir – To Come

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
venno vengas
él, ella, ustedvengano venga
nosotrosvengamosno vengamos
vosotrosvenidno vengáis
ellos, ellas, ustedesvenganno vengan

🇪🇸 Ven, te quiero mostrar algo. 
🇬🇧 Come, I want to show you something. 

🇪🇸 No vengamos con las manos vacías.
🇬🇧 Let’s not come empty-handed. 

🇪🇸 Vengan a conocer nuestra casa nueva. 
🇬🇧 v Come see our new house. 

🇪🇸 Señor Gonzalez, venga a nuestra oficina cuando quiera. 
🇬🇧 Mr. Gonzalez, come to our office whenever you want. 

Dar – To Give

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
dano des
él, ella, ustedno dé
nosotrosdemosno demos
vosotrosdadno deis
ellos, ellas, ustedesdenno den

🇪🇸 No des tus datos personales a la gente que no conoces.  
🇬🇧 Don’t give your personal data to people you don’t know. 

🇪🇸 Niños, no le deis chocolate vuestra hermanita, le hace mal. 
🇬🇧 Kids, don’t give chocolate to your baby sister, it is bad for her. 

🇪🇸 Por favor, dé su opinión sobre este asunto. 
🇬🇧 Please, give your opinion about this topic. 

🇪🇸 Demos una mano a los más necesitados.
🇬🇧 Let’s give a hand to those most in need. 

Saber – To Know

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
sabeno sepas
él, ella, ustedsepano sepa
nosotrossepamosno sepamos
vosotrossabedno sepáis
ellos, ellas, ustedessepanno sepan

🇪🇸 Sepa que hicimos nuestro mejor esfuerzo.  
🇬🇧 Know / Be aware of the fact that we did our best. 

🇪🇸 Niños, sabed por favor que su compañero nuevo tiene Asperger. 
🇬🇧 Niños, please know that your new classmate has Asperger’s. 

🇪🇸 Qué no sepa tu mamá que te compré un helado. 
🇬🇧 Do not let your mom know that I bought you ice cream.

🇪🇸 Sepan que yo estaré a cargo de este grupo. 
🇬🇧 Know that I will be in charge of this group. 

Traer – To Bring

Positive ImperativeNegative Imperative
traeno traigas
él, ella, ustedtraigano traiga
nosotrostraigamosno traigamos
vosotrostraedno traigáis
ellos, ellas, ustedestraiganno traigan

🇪🇸 Alex, trae tu cuaderno de historia, por favor. Quiero revisar tu tarea.  
🇬🇧 Alex, bring your history notebook, please. I want to check your homework.  

🇪🇸 No traigan nada a la fiesta. Ya tengo todo. 
🇬🇧 Don’t bring anything to the party. I already have everything. 

🇪🇸 Niños, mañana traed su peluche favorito a la escuela.  
🇬🇧 Kids, tomorrow please bring your favorite plush toy to school. 

🇪🇸 Por favor, traigan todas sus preguntas y dudas a la reunión.  
🇬🇧 Please, bring all your questions and doubts to the meeting. 

Spanish Imperative Mood with Object Pronouns

In the last part of today’s post, I’d like to deal with how different object pronouns combine with the imperative mood in Spanish. 

Not sure what I am talking about? Have a look at this sentence:

Give it to me

In this command you have two object pronouns: “it” referring to the object and “me” indicating the person the object should be given to. 

As a quick reminder, this is the list of the pronouns in Spanish indicating the person receiving the action:

meto me
teto you
seto him, to her, to you (usted)
nosto us
osto you (vosotros)
seto them, to you (ustedes)

And now, the pronouns indicating the object of the action:

lo, lait (masculine and feminine)
osyou (vosotros)
los, lasthem (masculine and feminine)

Having clarified that point, the main question remains: 

How do you add object pronouns to the Spanish imperative mood?

Positive Imperative

In the positive imperative mood, object pronouns stick to the end of the verb and form a single word. 

🔔 Pay attention to the accent on the last vowel of the verb and practice the correct pronunciation. 

Positive Imperative with One Object Pronoun 

🇪🇸 ¡Pruébalo!
🇬🇧 Try it!

🇪🇸 ¡Avísenos!
🇬🇧 Let us know!

🇪🇸 ¡Llámame!
🇬🇧 Call me!

🇪🇸 ¡Dilo!
🇬🇧 Say it!

🇪🇸 ¿Y su guitarra? ¡Tráigala también! 
🇬🇧 And your guitar? Bring it too!

Positive Imperative with Two Object Pronouns 

If you want to sound like a real pro, learn how to combine two object pronouns in one command or prohibition.

🔔 When choosing the order of the pronouns, remember that unlike in English, the person goes first. 

🇪🇸 ¡Dámelo!
🇬🇧 Give it to me!

🇪🇸 Pedro, Pablo, ¿y las arvejas? ¡Cómanselas todas!
🇬🇧 Pedro, Pablo, and the green peas? Eat them all!

🇪🇸 ¡Dígamelo usted primero!
🇬🇧 Tell it to me first!

🇪🇸 No es tu pelota. ¡Devuélvesela a tu hermano!
🇬🇧 It is not your ball. Give it back to your brother!

🇪🇸 ¡Explíquennoslo ustedes!
🇬🇧 Explain it to us!

Negative Imperative with Object Pronouns

While some of you may find the “sticky” pronouns in the positive imperative mood a bit challenging, the negative imperative brings no such surprises. 

It is very similar to the English one:

🇪🇸 ¡No lo hagas!
🇬🇧 Don’t do it!

🇪🇸 ¡No me mientan (ustedes)!
🇬🇧 Don’t lie to me!

🇪🇸 ¡No nos culpéis (vosotros) por todo!
🇬🇧 Don’t blame us for everything! 

🇪🇸 ¡No se lo digas (a tu marido)!
🇬🇧 Don’t tell him that!

🇪🇸 Esta pelota es de Pedro. ¡No se la quitéis!
🇬🇧 This is Pedro’s ball. Don’t take it away from him. 

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Joanna Lupa
Joanna Lupa
Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.

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