Spanish Negative and Formal Commands – Imperative Mood

Welcome to our lesson about Negative Commands and Formal Commands in Spanish.

In Spanish, giving commands is accomplished through the Imperative Mood. With the Imperative Mood, we tell people to do or not to do something.

There are different types of commands: they can be formal or informal, and on top of that they can be affirmative or negative.

In this lesson, we will talk about all Negative Commands and all Formal Commands.


If you would rather learn about Affirmative Informal commands, click here.


And now, let’s learn all about Negative Commands and Formal Commands in Spanish.

1. FormsAll based on the Present Subjunctive!

Any command in Spanish that is negative or formal (or both), is done with verb forms borrowed from another tense: the Present Subjunctive.

Depending on the type of command we want to give, we borrow a different form of the verb’s conjugation in Present Subjunctive, according to the following scheme:

For this command...... take this form of the verb's Present Subjunctive:
negative "tú"
negative "vosotros"vosotros
"usted"él
"ustedes"ellos

2. Examples of Negative and Formal Commands

As examples, we are going to pick the verbs “hablar” and “ir”. For each verb, we will first show its full conjugation in Present Subjunctive. Using that as a basis, we will form the different commands we are looking for.

Commands with verb “Hablar”

Here is the conjugation of “hablar” in Present Subjunctive. The forms we are going to use for commands are highlighted in green:

 hablar
yohable
hables
élhable
nosotroshablemos
vosotroshabléis
elloshablen


Looking at that chart, we can now form the different types of commands:

Negative “tú” command → Take Present Subjunctive’s “tú” form

No hables conmigo.
Don’t talk to me.

Negative “vosotros” command →  Take Present Subjunctive’s “vosotros” form

No habléis tan alto.
Don’t you guys talk so loud.

“Usted” commands → Take Present Subjunctive’s “él” form

Hable con la secretaria.
Talk to the secretary. (sir)

No hable con la jefa.
Don’t talk to the boss. (sir)

“Ustedes” commands → Take Present Subjunctive’s “ellos” form

Hablen más despacio, por favor.
Please talk slower. (gentlemen)

No hablen durante el examen.
Don’t talk during the exam. (gentlemen)


Commands with verb “Ir”

Conjugation of “ir” in Present Subjunctive:

 ir
yovaya
vayas
élvaya
nosotrosvayamos
vosotrosvayáis
ellosvayan


Looking at that chart, we can now construct the different types of commands:

Negative “tú” commandTake Present Subjunctive’s “tú” form

No vayas a ese bar.
Don’t go to that bar.

Negative “vosotros” command Take Present Subjunctive’s “vosotros” form

No vayáis tan lejos.
Don’t you guys go so far.

“Usted” commandsTake Present Subjunctive’s “él” form

Vaya al médico.
Go to the doctor. (sir)

No vaya al curandero.
Don’t go to the healer. (sir)

“Ustedes” commandsTake Present Subjunctive’s “ellos” form

Vayan a la estación.
Go to the station. (gentlemen)

No vayan a la playa hoy.
Don’t go to the beach today. (gentlemen)

3. Placement of pronouns like “me, te, lo, la…” in Commands

In order to place Direct, Indirect Object and Reflexive Pronouns in commands, we decide their placement depending exclusively on the command being affirmative or negative:

If the command is affirmative, the pronoun(s) are attached at the end of the verb

Examples:

Cómprelo.
Buy it. (sir)

Dúchese.
Take a shower. (sir)

Díganmelo.
Tell it to me. (gentlemen)


Accent Marks when attaching Pronouns

Notice that all Affirmative Formal commands get a an accent mark when attaching pronouns to them. The accent mark must be on the 3rd, 4th or 5th vowel (counting from right to left).

Try to hear the word in your mind, and the vowel that sounds stressed must be the one with the accent mark.

If the command is negative, the pronoun(s) go right before the verb, written separately

Examples:

No se acueste todavía.
Don’t go to bed yet (sir).

No lo tengan en cuenta.
Don’t take it into account (gentlemen).

No me lo mandes.
Don’t send it to me.

4. Practice Negative and Formal Commands

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Negative and Formal Commands in Spanish!:

Exercise

A boss calls several employees to give them instructions on what they should do. Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using Formal Commands. Then check the solutions below:

Señor García, _____ 1.(venir) por favor a mi despacho. _____ 2.(Hacer) usted un informe sobre los resultados de nuestra reciente campaña publicitaria. _____ 3.(Entregármelo) mañana a primera hora. No _____ 4.(entregármelo) más tarde, por favor, lo necesito urgentemente.

Señor López y Señora Fernández, _____ 5.(venir) por favor a mi despacho. ______ 6.(hablar) con nuestro cliente y _____ 7.(decirle) que tenemos una nueva oferta para él. No _____ 8.(darle) más información por el momento, solo _____ 9.(decir) que tenemos una oferta y que yo, más tarde, hablaré personalmente con él.

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = venga, 2 = Haga, 3 = Entréguemelo, 4 = me lo entregue, 5 = vengan, 6 = Hablen, 7 = díganle, 8 = le den, 9 = digan