Negative & Formal Commands in Spanish – Learn and Practice

Welcome to our grammar lesson on how to give negative and formal commands in Spanish.

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to give these types of commands using the correct verb forms.

A negative command, and then a formal command
A negative command, and then a formal command

You will also find a Quiz and Exercises to practice. Let’s start!


Important: In this lesson we are only talking about negative and formal commands.

If you want to learn affirmative informal commands, click here



Verb forms

We give negative or formal commands by borrowing verb forms from another tense: the Present Subjunctive.

Simply apply this logic:

For a command to this person...... take this form of the Present Subjunctive:
(negative command)
vosotros (negative command)vosotros
usted (affirmative or negative)usted
ustedes (affirmative or negative)ustedes


Let’s use the verbs “hablar” and “ir” as examples. We will first show their full conjugations in Present Subjunctive. Then we will form the different commands we are looking for.


“hablar”

Here is the verb “hablar” in Present Subjunctive:

 hablar

to speak

yohable
hables
él/ella/ustedhable
nosotroshablemos
vosotroshabléis
ellos/ellas/ustedeshablen


And now let’s form the different 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 talk so loud. (you guys)


“usted” commands (affirmative or negative) → Take Present Subjunctive’s “usted” form

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

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


“ustedes” commands (affirmative or negative)Take Present Subjunctive’s “ustedes” form

Hablen más despacio, por favor.
Please speak more slowly. (gentlemen)

No hablen durante el examen.
Do not talk during the exam. (gentlemen)


“ir”

Here is the verb “ir” in Present Subjunctive:

 ir

to go

yovaya
vayas
él/ella/ustedvaya
nosotrosvayamos
vosotrosvayáis
ellos/ellas/ustedesvayan


And now let’s form the different 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 go that far. (you guys)


“usted” commands (affirmative or negative)Take Present Subjunctive’s “usted” form

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

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


“ustedes” commands (affirmative or negative)Take Present Subjunctive’s “ustedes” form

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

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

Placement of reflexive and object pronouns

In order to add reflexive or object pronouns (me, te, lo, le, la, los, las, nos, os, se…) to a command, we decide their placement depending on the command being affirmative or negative:

If the command is affirmative, we attach the pronouns at the end of the verb

It can be just one pronoun or even two (one after another):

Cómprelo.
Buy it. (sir)

Dúchese.
Take a shower. (sir)

Díganmelo.
Tell it to me. (gentlemen)


If the command is negative, the pronouns go right before the verb, written separately

It can be just one pronoun or even two (one after another):

No me lo mandes.
Don’t send it to me.

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

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


Accent marks when we attach pronouns

Affirmative “usted” and “ustedes” commands always get a an accent mark when we attach pronouns to them.

The accent mark is always on the 3rd, 4th or 5th vowel of the resulting word (counting from right to left).

Just hear the word, and the vowel that sounds stressed must have the accent mark. Example: Cómprelo


Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz about formal and negative commands:


Exercise 1

A mother gives negative commands to her son Pablito. Fill the gaps using negative “tú” commands of the verbs in brackets. Click on the gray spaces to see the solutions:

1) Pablito, no hagas ruido. (hacer)
Pablito, don’t make noise.

2) No comas tan deprisa. (comer)
Don’t eat so fast.

3) No pongas la música tan alta. (poner)
Don’t play the music so loud.

4) No te levantes tarde. (levantarse)
Don’t get up late.

5) No juegues a la consola muchas horas. (jugar)
Don’t play the console too many hours.

Exercise 2

A teacher gives negative commands to several students. Fill the gaps using negative “vosotros” commands:

1) Chicos, no habléis entre vosotros. (hablar)
Guys, don’t talk to each other.

2) No miréis el móvil en clase. (mirar)
Don’t look at your cell phone in class.

3) No copiéis de vuestros compañeros. (copiar)
Do not copy from your classmates.

4) No vengáis mañana sin hacer las tareas. (venir)
Don’t come in tomorrow without doing your homework.

5) No seáis tan ruidosos. (ser)
Don’t be so noisy.

Exercise 3

A boss gives commands to an employee. Fill the gaps using “usted” commands:

1) Señor García, venga por favor a mi despacho. (venir)
Mr. Garcia, please come to my office.

2) Haga usted un informe. (hacer)
Make a report.

Exercise 4

A boss gives commands to several employees. Fill the gaps using “ustedes” commands:

1) Señores, vengan por favor a mi despacho. (venir)
Gentlemen, please come to my office.

2) Hablen con nuestro cliente. (hablar)
Talk to our client.

Check out all our Grammar topics 🤓📖

Check out all our Grammar topics 🤓📖