Spanish Negative & Formal Commands – Imperative Mood

The Spanish Imperative Mood is used to give commands or orders. With it, we tell people to do or not to do something. In this lesson, we will talk specifically about Negative Commands and Formal Commands in Spanish.


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


Anyway, in this lesson we will go through the following points:


1. FormsAll based on the Present Subjunctive!

For all commands that are either negative or formal (or both), we need to use forms taken from another tense: The Present Subjunctive. (Click here if you need to review the Present Subjunctive).

Depending on the kind of command we want to give, we need to take a form of the verb’s conjugation in Present Subjunctive, applying this logic:

  • Negative “tú” commands → Take Present Subjunctive’s “tú” form
  • Negative “vosotros” commands → Take Present Subjunctive’s “vosotros” form
  • Formal “Usted” commands (both affirmative and negative) → Take Present Subjunctive’s “él” form
  • Formal “Ustedes” commands (both affirmative and negative)→ Take Present Subjunctive’s “ellos” form


2. Examples of Negative and Formal Commands in Spanish

To illustrate what we just explained, we are going to use as examples the verbs “Hablar” and “Ir”. For both of them, we will first write their conjugation in Present Subjunctive, which then serves us as basis to build the different commands we are looking for.

2.1. Commands with verb “Hablar”

Here is the conjugation of “hablar” in Present Subjunctive:

 Hablar
yohable
hables
élhable
nosotroshablemos
vosotroshabléis
elloshablen

Looking at that conjugation, we can now construct 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 talk so loud.


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

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

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

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

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

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


2.2. Commands with verb “Ir”

Conjugation of “ir” in Present Subjunctive:

 Ir
yovaya
vayas
élvaya
nosotrosvayamos
vosotrosvayáis
ellosvayan

Looking at that conjugation, 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 go so far.


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

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

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


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

Vayan a la estación.
Go to the station.

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


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

For the Placement of Direct and Indirect Object as well as Reflexive Pronouns in Imperative, we decide depending 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.

Dúchense.
Take a shower.

Dígamelo.
Tell it to me. (in this case, two pronouns attached one after another)

About Accent Marks when attaching Pronouns

Read the sentences above one more time. Notice the accent marks that appear when pronouns are attached. This is how it works:

Affirmative Formal Commands always get a an accent mark when attaching pronouns to them. The accent mark will 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

In this case, of course, no accent marks are added. Examples:

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

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

No me lo mandes.
Don’t send it to me.  (in this case, two pronouns)


4. Practice: A Quiz

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


5. Second Practice: An Exercise

An Exercise about Negative and Formal Commands! 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 at the end of this post.

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