We use the imperative (EL IMPERATIVO) to tell people what to do or not to do, to give advice and instructions. Because there are four words for “you” (tú, usted, vosotros, ustedes), there are four you imperative.
Forming the Spanish imperative affirmative:
1. Most tú imperatives are identical to the él/ella/usted form of the present indicative (regular verbs and boot verbs -stem changing verbs).
Piensa en los demás (Think about others).
Bebe mucha agua (Drink a lot of water).
2. Vosotros imperative replaces the final –r of the infinitive with –d. All the verbs follow this rule.
¡Mirad el arcoiris! (Look at the rainbow).
¡Id a jugar al jardín! (Go play in the garden).
3. Usted, ustedes imperatives are identical to the equivalent forms in the present subjunctive, which just change a vowel from the “tú” form.
Espera aquí (wait here – informal) – Espere aquí (wait here – formal).
Bebe mucha agua (informal) – Beba mucha agua (formal).
4. Verbs that in the present tense are irregular in the first person (yo) by adding a “g”, make the imperative tú in a different way: digo = di, vengo = ven, hago = haz, tengo= ten, pongo = pon, salgo = sal…
Ven con nosotros. (Come with us.)
Ten cuidado. (Be careful.)
Haz los ejercicios. (Do the homework.)
For this group of verbs, the usted is made with the “o” in the first person of the present for an “a“
Venga con nosotros. (Come with us.)
Tenga cuidado. (Be careful.)
Haga los ejercicios. (Do the homework.)
5. There are two completely irregular: ser and ir.
Sé bueno. (Be good – informal.) – Sea bueno. (Be good – formal.)
Ve a la escuela. (Go to the school- informal.) – Vaya a la escuela. (Go to the school- formal.)
6. In positive imperative, i.e. when telling someone to do something, object pronouns are attached to the of the verbs. An accent is added to keep the stress in the same place as it would be without the pronoun (learn more about imperative and the pronouns):
Háblame. (Speak to me.)
Escríbenos. (Write to us.)
Now you can practice everything you have learned with our quizzes. You can also see how the imperative work in context by watching the vídeo “Mi receta de gazpacho” or by listening to the podcast “En el médico“. Remember you can contact your tutor for any question you have about the affirmative imperative. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?