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Spanish Imperative Mood 101: Commands, Instructions, Requests

The Imperative Mood/Case in Spanish is a conjugation that indicates a demand, instruction, prohibition of an action, or request. The imperative mood is pretty easy to conjugate and learning it isn’t as much work as other tenses.

In total, we only have to remember to conjugate for 4 subjects.

  • You - Tú

  • You - Usted (Formal)

  • You - Ustedes (Plural)

  • We - Nosotros

In this article, I’ll give you many example sentences so that hopefully you can acquire the information just by reading it in context.

Without any further ado let’s learn the Spanish Imperative Mood!

Table of Contents:

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Introduction to the concept of the imperative

The imperative form of a verb in Spanish is used to demand something of someone, to give instructions, to prohibit an action, or to request something.

One example of the imperative in English is when somebody says “Go!”.

Understanding the imperative form is crucial to be precise in your speech, but it also shouldn’t be taken too seriously until the intermediate stages of your learning journey. No matter what stage of your learning process you are in, you should take this lightly.

Learning grammar can provide great results, but the #1 way to learn conjugations is in context, not stressing over new concepts or conjugation charts.

In this article I will provide you with a good understanding of the imperative, many examples to help you acquire the grammar, and other resources that can help you acquire the grammatical tense with relative ease.

Are you ready? ¡Vamos!

Using the Imperative in Spanish

There are 3 main forms that you will need to learn to use imperative mood for.

  • Tú,

  • Usted (Formal)

  • Ustedes.

The good news is the verb does not change much from its original form, nor does it change much between subjects. Let’s go over some of the most important uses of the imperative in Spanish.

Commands: Go! Run! Speak! Listen!

This section will demonstrate how we use the imperative to command something of someone. Take a look at the comparison of these forms.

Go! 👉

- Go (Imperative) ¡Ve!

  • Example: Ve a la tienda - Go to the store | Ve a este vínculo - Go to this link

Usted - Go (Imperative) ¡Vaya!

  • Example: Vaya a la tienda - Go to the store | Vaya a este vínculo - Go to this link

Ustedes - Go (Imperative) ¡Vayan!

  • Example: Vayan a la tienda - Go to the store | Vayan a este vínculo - Go to this link

Run! 🏃‍♀️

- Run (Imperative) ¡Corre!

  • Example: Wey, ¡corre! - Bro, run! | Corre por 15 minutos - Run for 15 minutes!

Usted - Run (Imperative) ¡Corra!

  • Example: Señor, ¡corra! - Sir, run! | Corra por 15 minutos - Run for 15 minutes!

Ustedes - Go (Imperative) ¡Corran!

  • Example: ¡Todos ustedes, corran! - Sir, run! | Corran por 15 minutos - Run for 15 minutes!

Speak! 🗣

- Speak (Imperative) ¡Habla!

  • Example: Hermano, ¡habla! - Brother, speak! | Habla durante 2 minutos - Speak for 2 minutes

Usted - Speak (Imperative) ¡Hable!

  • Example: Señor, habla! - Sir, speak! | Hable durante 2 minutos - Speak for 2 minutes

Ustedes - Speak (Imperative) ¡Hablen!

  • Example: Señores, hablen! - Sirs, speak! | Hablen durante 2 minutos - Speak for 2 minutes

Listen! 🧏‍♂️

- Listen (Imperative) ¡Escucha!

  • Example: Hermano, ¡Escucha! - Brother, listen! | Escucha eso - Listen to that

Usted - Listen (Imperative) ¡Escuche!

  • Example: Señor, ¡Escuche! - Sir, listen! | Escuche eso - Listen to that

Ustedes - Listen (Imperative) ¡Escuchen!

  • Example: Señores, ¡Escuchen! - Sirs, listen! | Escuchen eso - Listen to that

Instructions: Do this, then that, then this… 👨‍🏫

When giving instructions in Spanish, the speaker will use the imperative case, this just helps us a lot as listeners to know that they are telling us to do it.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how this case works to give instructions.

Instructions In The Tú Form

Escucha mi voz… toma una respiración profunda… ahora di “soy increíble” (Tú)

| Listen to my voice… take a deep breath… now say “I am awesome” |

Recoge la basura, ponla en tu bolsillo y di "yo también soy basura" (Tú)

| Pick up the trash, put it in your pocket and say “I am garbage too” |

Mezcla la harina con los huevos, ahora agrega el azúcar (Tú)

| Mix the flour with the eggs, now add the sugar |

Instructions In The Usted Form

Señor, escuche mi voz... Tome una respiración profunda... Ahora diga "Soy increíble"

  • | Sir, listen to my voice… Take a deep breath… now say “I am awesome” | (Ust)

Señor, recoja la basura, póngala en el bolsillo y diga “yo también soy basura”

  • | Sir, pick up the trash, put it in your pocket and say “I am garbage too” | (Ust)

Mezcle la harina con los huevos, ahora agrega el azúcar

  • | Mix the flour with the eggs, now add the sugar | (Ust)

Negating the Imperative in Spanish

Whenever we want to command somebody to not do something, the forms of the words change a bit. But don't worry! These forms will help you when you learn about the subjunctive case, which shares many of these forms.

But for example, whereas the way to demand somebody to “Do it” is Hazlo - to tell them “Don't do it!” you say “No lo hagas”. Let's look at some comparisons between the imperative forms as commands, and negative commands.

¡Léelo ahora! | ¡No lo leas ahora!

| Read it now! | Don’t read it now! (Tú) |

¡Aprende esto! | ¡No aprendas esto!

| Learn this! | Don’t learn this! (Tú) |

¡Enseña esto! | ¡No enseñes esto!

| Teach this! | Don’t teach this! (Tú) |

For Usted the form doesn’t change - it remains the same imperative form for the regular orders and the negated ones. Let’s look at what this looks like in these sentences:

¡Señor, lea esto! | ¡Señor, no lea esto!

| Sir, read this! | Sir, don’t read this! (Ust) |

¡Señor, aprenda esto! | ¡Señor, no aprenda esto!

| Sir, learn this! | Sir, don’t learn this! (Ust) |

¡Señor, enseñe esto! | ¡Señor, no enseñe esto esto!

| Sir, teach this! | Sir, don’t teach this! (Ust) |

Adding Single Object Pronouns To The Imperative

That was all great, but what if you want to say “Listen to ME or “SAY IT!”. In that case, there will only be a small difference and it’ll be found in the pronunciation.

These tenses can be a bit inconsistent, and for that reason, you have to just learn them in context. But here is what you can expect. Take a look at the forms written below.

Escuchar (Me) 🧏

  • (Tú) Hey listen to me! | ¡Ey escúchame!

  • (Usted) Sir, listen to me! | Señor, ¡escúchame!

  • (Ustedes) Guys, listen to me! | ¡Chicos escúchenme!

Decir (Me) 🗣

  • (Tú) Tell me! | Dime!

  • (Usted) Sir, tell me! | Señor, dígame

  • (Ustedes) Guys, tell me! | Chicos, díganme

Now there is one extra change that can occur here. If somebody says for example “I have something to tell you” and you want to say “Say it” using the Spanish article “Lo” - this is how it’s done:

Decir (Me + Lo) 🤔

  • (Tú) Say it to me! | ¡Dímelo!

  • (Usted) Sir, say it to me! | Señor, dígamelo

  • (Ustedes) Guys, say it! | Chicos, ¡díganmelo!

Another single object pronoun you might want to use with this tense is Te (like in the phrase verte: Meaning see you). Keep in mind, in Spanish this concept of doubling the subject up is used often.

For example:

Me voy, te vas, te burlas, and me río - meaning: I go, you go, you make fun of, and I laugh.

Take a look at some of these other common examples of the imperative being used with 2 of the same subjects.

Irse (To leave, to go) 🖕

  • (Tú) Go to hell! | ¡Vete al carajo!

  • (Usted) Sir, leave now | Señor, ¡váyanse ahora!

  • (Ustedes) Guys, go now! | Chicos, ¡váyanse ahora!

Tips to learn the Imperative Mood

If you want to learn the imperative mood in Spanish, one of your best tools might be Spanishdict. There you can look up a command in English to see the imperative conjugation for that verb in Spanish.

For example, you could search “Run!” and it will give you example sentences using that word in context (and in the imperative case).

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A Little Trick To Learn The Imperative In Spanish

There is a certain consistency within the conjugations of the imperative case. Mainly between IR and ER verbs.

Take a look below, and notice how the Tú form ends in an E, and the rest replace that E with an A. The N/A on the conjugations for Yo is because you can’t use the imperative on yourself.

Comer (ER) 🍝

  • Yo como | IMP - N/A

  • Tú comes | IMP - Come

  • Usted come | IMP - Coma

  • Nosotros/as | IMP - Comamos

  • Ustedes | IMP - Coman

Escribir (IR) ✒️

  • Yo escribo | IMP - N/A

  • Tú escribes | IMP - Escribe

  • Usted escribe | IMP - Escriba

  • Nosotros/as escribimos | IMP - Escribamos

  • Ustedes escriben | IMP - Escriban

Irregular Spanish Verbs In The Imperative Case

These are the irregular verbs in Spanish, and how they change forms in the Imperative case for Tú:

  • Ser - (Example: Sé tú mismo - Be yourself)

  • Ir - Ve (Example: Ve al sitio web - Go to the website)

  • Tener - Ten (Example: Ten un buen día - Have a good day)

  • Venir - Ven (Example: Ven acá - Come here)

  • Hacer - Haz (Example: Haz esto - Do this)

  • Decir - Di (Example: Di hola - Say hello)

  • Poner - Pon (Example: Pon eso aquí - Put that here)

  • Salir - Sal (Example: Sal de aquí - Get out of here)

Nosotros (We) In The Spanish Imperative Case

It’s generally less common that we use the Imperative case for Nosotros, but it does happen with some frequency. Obviously, the idea of giving ourselves demands sounds a bit ridiculous.

The imperative case for We is just like when we use the phrase “Let’s…”.

For example: Let’s go! | Let’s eat! | Let’s try that restaurant |

Here are some of the Nosotros conjugations for the Imperative Case:

  • ¡Comamos! | Let’s eat!

  • ¡Aprendamos! | Let's learn!

  • ¡Corramos! | Let’s run!

  • ¡Intentemos! | Let’s try!

  • ¡Lloremos! | Let’s cry!

  • ¡Volemos! | Let’s fly!

Most Common Words Seen In The Imperative Mood

  • - Be (Tú) Sé tú mismo, amigo | Be yourself, friend

  • Sea - Be (Usted) Sea usted mismo señor | Be yourself

  • Hazlo - Do it (Tú) Hazlo entonces | Do it then

  • Hágalo - Do it (Usted) Hágalo entonces | Do it then

  • Dime - Tell me (Tú) Dime lo que quieres | Tell me what you want

  • Dígame - Tell me (Usted) Dígame lo que quiere señor | Tell me what you want Dilo - Say it (Tú) Dile entonces | Say it then

  • Dígalo - Say it (Usted) Dígalo entonces | Say it then

  • Ven - Come (Tú) Ven acá por favor | Come here please

  • Venga - Come (Usted) Venga acá por favor | Come here please Oye - Listen (Tú) Oye, ví unos zapatos así ayer | Hey (listen) I saw some shoes like that yesterday

  • Oiga - Listen (Usted) Oiga, ví unos zapatos así ayer | Hey (listen) I saw some shoes like that yesterday

  • Mira - Look (Tú) Mira a ese hombre | Look at that man

  • Mire - Look (Usted) Mira a ese hombre | Look at that man

  • Escribe - Write (Tú) Escribe algo hermoso | Write something beautiful Escriba - Write (Usted)Escriba algo hermoso | Write something beautiful

  • Sal - Leave (Tú) Sal de aquí ya mismo | Leave here right now Salga - Leave (Usted) Salga de aquí ya mismo | Leave here right now Intenta - Try (Tú) Intenta escribir despacio | Try to write slowly

  • Intente - Try (Usted) Intente escribir despacio | Try to write slowly

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Conclusion: The Imperative Mood In Spanish

As you can see, Spanish’s imperative mood comes in handy whenever you want to tell somebody to do something, make a recommendation, give instructions, or prohibit them from doing something.

If you still don’t feel confident in your ability to use this case, don't worry - that’s totally normal after learning a new type of conjugation. Just by reading this article and looking at examples you have done 75% of the work.

Now when you listen, read, and study Spanish, pay attention to when somebody is giving a command, and surely you’ll acquire these forms in no time.

If you enjoyed this article shoot a comment down below and let me know!

If you’re interested in learning how to use the subjunctive case, which is extremely similar, click here and read the short article I wrote on that subject!

¡Hasta luego!

~ Ben


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