Spanish Commands: The Imperative Mood Made Simple

Spanish commands

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The Imperative (imperativo) is used in Spanish to give suggestions, commands or orders in a direct way. The imperative is known as a mood (rather than tense) because it is used to express a want or desire, and always refers to the exact moment in which it is used.

If you ever visit a Spanish speaking country, then will notice the imperative being used from the moment you arrive.

For example:

  • ¡Alto! / ¡Detengase! / ¡Pare!-  Stop!
  • ¡Empuje! – Push!
  • ¡No corra! – Do not run!
  • ¡No fume! – Do not smoke!
  • ¡No estacione aquí! – Do not park here!

In addition to commands, it can also be used to offer an invitation, give permission, or make an apology.

  • ¡Ven a mi casa! – Come to my house!
  • ¡Entra! – Come in!
  • ¡Perdoname! – Forgive me!

In certain scenarios (e.g. speaking to a stranger.), the imperative may seem overly direct, and sometimes the speaker will opt to use a polite alternative such as the conditional tense, or “can you + infinitive verb?” (present tense question), or simply by preceding the imperative with “please”.

For example, here are four different ways to ask someone to close to the door:

  1. ¡Cierra la puerta! – Close the door! (Imperative)
  2. Por favor, ¡cierra la puerta! – Please, close the door! (Polite imperative)
  3. ¿Podrías por favor cerrar la puerta? – Would you please close the door? (Conditional question)
  4. ¿Puedes cerrar la puerta? – Can you close the door? (Present tense question)

Below are common examples of the imperative being replaced with more polite alternatives.

(As you will see, some sentences are perfectly fine in the imperative, and don’t need to be changed.)


Polite Alternative

Déjame pagar – Let me pay Puedes dejarme pagar? – Can you let me pay?

(Indicative is used here)

Vayamos a comer algo – Let’s eat something ¿Podríamos ir a comer algo? – Could we go to eat something?

(Conditional is used here)

Come tus vegetales – Eat your greens Por favor, come tus vegetales – Please, eat your greens

(please + imperative)

Hablen sobre sus planes – Talk about your plans ¿Podrían hablar de sus planes? – Could you talk about your plans?

(Conditional is used here)

Tomemos un café – Let’s have a coffee ¿Podemos tomar un café? – Can we have a coffee

(Indicative is used here)

Ten algo de paciencia – Have some patience Por favor, ten algo de paciencia – Please, have some patience

(please + imperative)

Haz el esfuerzo – Make the effort ¿Podrías hacer el esfuerzo? – Could you make the effort

(Conditional is used here)

¡No digas nada! – Don’t say anything! ¡Por favor, no digas nada! – Please, don’t say anything

(please + imperative)

No escuchen música con tanto volumen – Don’t listen to music so loud Por favor, no escuchen música con tanto volumen – Please, don’t listen to music so loud

(please + imperative)

Compra algo para cenar – Buy something for dinner Por favor, compra algo para cenar – Please, buy something for dinner

(please + imperative)

While it’s handy to know that you can use polite alternatives, right now, we are going to concentrate on learning how to use the imperative mood.

Forming Commands In Spanish

The imperative can be used both in single and plural forms.

You’ll notice that are four forms of the imperative.

Usted You (formal)
Nosotros We
Ustedes You (plural)

The imperative is not used to give commands in the 3rd person, which is why we don’t conjugate in él, ella, ellos or ellas. In other words, you can only use this mood to give direct orders.

The nosotros (we) form is used when the speaker suggests completing an action by a group of people that he or she belongs to. Rather than being a direct command, the nosotros form can be interpreted as the equivalent of how we use “let’s” in English.

For example:

  • Vayamos al cine – Let’s go to the cinema
  • Vayamos a comer – Let’s go to eat

For more on using this Spanish “let’s + infinitive” form, check out our detailed post on nosotros commands.

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How To Conjugate The Imperative

Before explaining how to conjugate the imperative mood for regular and irregular verbs, it is important to understand how to treat the personal pronoun .

The imperative  form will change its grammatical structure depending on whether the command is affirmative (go!), or negative (don’t go!).

The conjugation for affirmative commands uses the same structure that you would use for the third person (él/ella) in the simple present, which makes it a little easier to remember if you’ve already covered that tense.

  • Affirmative imperative: ¡Entra! (Enter!)

But if we use it as a negative, it will take the form: No + present subjunctive.

  • Negative imperative: ¡No entres! (Don’t enter!)

Don’t worry, there’s no need to learn the subjunctive in order to use the imperative.

Remember this tip when conjugating the tú pronoun.

Tip: The vowels between -AR and -ER/-IR verbs will swap when switching from affirmative to negative.

Verb type


Affirmative (tú)


Negative (tú)


-AR Llamar (to call) a (Tú) Llama es (Tú) no llames
-ER/-IR Comer (to eat) e (Tú) Come as (Tú) no comas

Now that you know how to conjugate the tú pronoun, you can easily memorize endings for the other pronouns when dealing with regular and irregular verbs in the imperative.

Regular -AR Verbs






(to work)

Trabaja/No trabajes Trabaje Trabajen Trabajemos

 (to travel)

Viaja/No viajes Viaje Viajen Viajemos

(to paint)

Pinta/No pintes Pinte Pinten Pintemos

(to question / to ask)

Pregunta/No preguntes Pregunte Pregunten Preguntemos


Regular -ER and -IR Verbs






(to drink)

Bebe/No bebas Beba Beban Bebamos

(to respond / to answer)

Responde/No Respondas Responda Respondan Respondamos

(to permit)

Permite/No permitas Tenga Permitan Permitamos

(to receive)

Recibe/No recibas Salga Reciban Recibamos


Irregular Verbs In The Imperative Mood

As always, there are some irregular verbs which don’t follow the regular rules.

Here is a list of the most commonly used irregular verbs, and their conjugations in the imperative.



Usted Ustedes Nosotros
Ser (to be) Se No seas Sea Sean Seamos
Poner (to put) Pon No pongas Ponga Pongan Pongamos
Tener (to have) Ten No tengas Tenga Tengan Tengamos
Salir (to leave) Sal No salgas Salga Salgan Salgamos
Venir (to come) Ven No vengas Venga Vengan Vengamos
Ir (to go) Ve No vayas Vaya Vayan Vayamos
Decir (to say) Di No digas Diga Digan Digamos
Hacer (do/make) Haz No hagas Haga Hagan Hagamos

Tip: Easily memorize the affirmative tú conjugations (which are the most common) by thinking of “Vin Diesel Has Ten Weapons”:

  • ven, di, sal, haz, ten, ve, pon, se
  • venir, decir, salir, hacer, tener, ir, poner, ser

(I learned this from someone a long time ago, and it tends to work incredibly well for students.)

Earlier we covered how the negative tú conjugation uses “no + present subjunctive”, and this also applies to irregular verbs – but it’s probably easier to memorize the conjugations if you don’t know the subjunctive.

Here are some examples of the irregular verbs in action:

  • Pon eso por acá. (Put that over here.)
  • Sal por ahí, la puerta está abierta. (Go out over there, the door is open.)
  • Ven a visitarnos un día de estos. (Come over and visit us one of these days.)
  • Ve a buscar lo que necesitas. (Go get what you need.)
  • Solo di la verdad. (Just tell the truth.)
  • Haz lo que quieras. (Do what you want.)
  • Siempre se una buena persona. (Always be a good person.)

Spanish Imperative And Objects Pronouns

Just as we do in English, object pronouns and imperatives are frequently used together in order avoid repetition.


Imperative With Object Pronoun

Bring Food Bring it
Close the door Close it

That’s a pretty basic example – but in simple terms, the imperative is combined with object pronouns to indicate who or what will be at the receiving end of an action being requested by you or someone else.

Using object pronouns helps shorten your sentence, indicate urgency, and in general, avoids you sounding like a robot and repeating unnecessary information.

  • Friend: I have spare beers
  • Robot: Bring the spare beers
  • Human: Bring them!

In order to use object pronouns, you need to know how to use direct object and indirect objects.

Here is a quick reminder:

Personal Pronoun Direct Object Indirect Object
Yo Me Me
Te Te
Él Lo Le
Ella La Le
Nosotros Nos Nos
Ustedes Los/Las Les
Ellos Los Les
Ellas Las Les

Object pronouns work with the imperative as a “suffix”, which, in simple terms means that they hook onto the end of a word (imperative conjugation in this case) to change the meaning of the original word.

  • Trae la cuenta, por favor – bring the bill, please
  • Tráenos la cuenta, por favor – bring us the bill, please

How do you determine when to use the direct vs indirect object?

Direct object pronouns address the subject of the sentence:

  • ¡Haz tu tarea! – Do your homework! / ¡Hazla! – Do it!
  • ¡Compra algunas bebidas! – Buy some drinks! / ¡Compralas! – Buy them!

Indirect object pronouns address who/what is receiving the action:

  • ¡Trae caramelos para nosotros!  – Bring candies for us!
  • ¡Traenos caramelos! – Bring us candies!
  • ¡Escribe una carta para ella! – Write a letter for her!
  • ¡Escríbele una carta! – Write her a letter!

How To Use The Imperative With Single Object Pronouns

If the command is affirmative, the object pronouns acts as a suffix and simply hooks onto the end of the imperative conjugation.

  • Escúchalo – Listen to it
  • Espérame – Wait for me
  • Dime – Tell me

If the command is negative, the object pronoun will not act as a suffix – instead, it will be placed right before the verb.

  • ¡No nos grite! – Don’t yell at us!
  • ¡No lo escuches! – Don’t listen to him!
  • ¡No me esperes! – Don’t wait for me!
  • ¡No le digas nada! – Don’t tell her anything!
  • ¡No nos lo quite! – Don’t take it from us!

How To Use The Imperative With Double Object Pronouns

You may have noticed that the last example in the previous section is a command that includes both direct and indirect object pronouns (ie. double object pronouns).

Double object pronouns are structured by adding 1) the indirect object (indicating who it’s for/to), followed by 2) the direct object (the object of the sentence itself) to the conjugation.

Below is an example of a simple sentence which is shortened by a single object pronoun, and then double object pronouns

  • ¡Compra un oso de peluche para ella! – Buy a teddy bear for her!
  • ¡Comprale un oso de peluche! – Buy her a teddy bear!
  • ¡Compraselo! – Buy it for her!

Rule: Remember, if both pronouns begin with an “l”, the indirect pronoun changes to “se”, which why it’s not “¡Compralelo!” in the above example.

The same object pronoun rule order applies to negative commands, but as saw before,

As we saw earlier, if the command is negative, the pronouns are placed before the verb:

  • No se lo entregues – Entrégaselo
  • No me lo recuerdes  Recuérdamelo

Knowing how to use object pronouns with the imperative will allow you to make requests or commands in a more immediate and direct manner, when the context is already known.

Tip: Memorize a couple of common phrases that use the imperative + double object pronouns in order to use the mood in situations that require urgency.

  • ¡Entregamelo! – Hand it over to me!
  • ¡Quitatelo/a! – Take it off!
  • ¡Póntelo/a! – Put it on!
  • ¡Dámelo! – Give it to me!
  • ¡Explícamelo! – Explain it to me!

Now you know how to give commands in Spanish.

So practice NOW!

Spanish Commands: Exercises To Complete

Fill the blanks with the correct conjugation of the imperative.

1.-  ________ (Venir) con nosotros el año que viene.
Come with us next year.

2.- ¡________ (Ir) a dormir!

Go to sleep!

3.- _________ (Intentar) mas tarde, o tal vez mañana.

Try it later, or maybe tomorrow.

4.- _________ (Acompañar) a tu madre a hacer compras.

Join your mom to go shopping.

5.- No _________ (Recordar) sobre eso

Don’t remind me about that.

6.-  ________ (Eat) toda tu comida antes de que se enfríe.

Eat all your food before it gets cold.

7.- ___________ (Wait), ya falta poco.

Wait for us, it won’t be long.

8.- No _________ (Alimentar) a los animales. Reglas del zoológico.

Don’t feed the animals. Zoo rules.

9.- Muchachos, _______ (Recordar) regresar temprano a casa.

Guys, remember to come back home early.

10.- ¡_______ (Estudiar) suficiente para el examen final!

Remember to study enough for the final exam!

11.- _________  (Traer) algo de tomar.

Bring me something to drink

12.- ________ (Comprar) algo para comer.

Let’s buy something to eat.


1.- Ven con nosotros el año que viene.

2.- ¡Ve a dormir!

3.- Intenta mas tarde, o tal vez mañana.

4.- Acompaña a tu madre a hacer compras.

5.- No me recuerdes sobre eso.

6.- Come toda tu comida antes de que se enfríe.

7.- Esperanos, ya falta poco.

8.-  No alimenten a los animales. Reglas del zoológico.

9.- Muchachos, recuerden regresar temprano a casa.

10.- ¡Estudia suficiente para el examen final!

11.- Traeme algo de tomar.

12.- Compremos algo para comer.


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