Spanish Formal Commands and Negative Commands

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

This lesson will teach you everything about these 2 types of Commands: the verb forms we need and how to use them, providing example sentences.

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

Of course, there are commands that are both formal and negative at the same time. This lesson covers them too.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.


Click here if you would rather learn about Affirmative Informal commands


Verb forms

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

That means we need to know the verb’s conjugation in Present Subjunctive. Then, we apply the following logic:

For this type of command...... take this form of the Present Subjunctive:
negative "tú"
negative "vosotros"vosotros
ustedusted
ustedesustedes


Examples

As examples, we are going to use the verbs “hablar” and “ir”.

For each verb, we will first show the full conjugation in Present Subjunctive. Then we will form the different commands we are looking for.

Commands with the verb “hablar”

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

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


And this is what we need to do to 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 you guys talk so loud.


“usted” commands (both affirmative and 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 (both affirmative and negative)Take Present Subjunctive’s “ustedes” form

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

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


Commands with the verb “ir”

Conjugation of “ir” in Present Subjunctive:

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


And this is what we need to do to 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 you guys go so far.


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

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

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


“ustedes” commands (both affirmative and 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 pronouns like “me, te, lo, le…

To include Reflexive, Direct Object or Indirect Object Pronouns such as “me, te, lo, le, la, los, las, nos, os, se…” with a command, we decide their placement depending on the command being affirmative or negative:

If the command is affirmative, the pronouns are attached at the end of the verb

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

Examples:

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

Examples:

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 attaching pronouns

Notice that affirmative formal commands always get a an accent mark when we attach pronouns to them. The accent mark will be on the 3rd, 4th or 5th vowel of the word (counting from right to left).

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


Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about this topic!:


Exercise 1

We will first practice negative “tú” commands.

A mother gives negative commands to his child. Fill the gaps using negative “tú” commands:

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

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

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

No __ ___ 4.(levantarse) tarde.
Don’t get up late.

No ___ 5.(jugar) a la consola muchas horas.
Don’t play the console for long hours.

Solutions:
1) hagas
2) comas
3) pongas
4) te levantes (“levantarse” is a reflexive verb, so we need the reflexive pronoun)
5) juegues


Exercise 2

Now we are going to practice negative “vosotros” commands.

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

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

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

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

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

No ___ 5.(ser) tan ruidosos.
Don’t be so loud.

Solutions:
1) habléis
2) miréis
3) copiéis
4) vengáis
5) seáis


Exercise 3

We will now practice Formal Commands.

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

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

___ 2.(Hacer) usted un informe.
Make a report.

___ 3.(Entregar) mañana a primera hora.
Give it to me first thing in the morning tomorrow.

No __ __ ___ 4.(entregar) más tarde, por favor.
Don’t give it to me later, please.

Solutions:
1) venga
2) Haga
3) Entréguemelo
4) me lo entregue


Exercise 4

More Formal Commands.

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

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

____ 2.(Hablar) con nuestro cliente.
Talk to our client.

____ 3.(Decir) que tenemos una oferta para él.
Tell him we have an offer for him.

No __ ____ 4.(dar) más información por el momento.
Do not give him more information at the moment.

Solutions:
1) vengan
2) Hablen
3) Díganle
4) le den