What You Need to Know About the Spanish Imperative

Qué Tienes Que Saber Del Imperativo En Español
Do you know how to use the imperative mood? What types of imperative verbs are there? Read iScribo's guide to avoiding making mistakes with the imperative.

The imperative mood is used to command or request something. Its main characteristics are that it does not appear in subordinate clauses, that it admits enclitic personal pronouns, and that the imperative verbs exist in the first person since we cannot give orders to ourselves.

You must keep in mind that there are regular and irregular verbs, and this is what will depend on how the verb is formed in the imperative. In this post we will focus on regular verbs.

Form and types of imperative

The imperative mood is only formed in the present tense; other grammatical resources, such as modal verbs, are used to give commands in any other tense.

There are two types of imperative:

  • The affirmative: ¡Ven aquí! (Come here!)
  • The negative: (que +) no + verb in the imperative mood (which is formed with the present subjunctive). ¡No conduzcas! (Don’t drive!)

Imperative in positive sentences with regular verbs

-ar-er-ir
(you, second person of singular)bailabebeparte
Usted (you, second person of singular, polite form)bailebebaparta
Vosotros (you, second person of plural)bailadbebedpartid
Ustedes (you, second person of plural, polite form)bailenbebanpartan

Here you have some examples of imperative:

Bailad hasta que salga el sol (Dance until the sun comes up).

Bebed agua, hace mucho calor (Drink water, it’s very hot).

Partan antes de que sea tarde (Leave before it’s too late).

Imperative in negative sentences with regular verbs

-ar-er-ir
(you, second person of singular)bailesbebaspartas
Usted (you, second person of singular, polite form)bailebebaparta
Vosotros (you, second person of plural)bailéisbebáispartáis
Ustedes (you, second person of plural, polite form)bailenbebanpartan

Some imperative examples:

Que no bailes así (Don’t dance like that).

No bebáis eso (Don’t drink that).

No partan antes del anochecer (Don’t leave before nightfall).

Most common errors

The most common mistake when forming the imperative mood is to use the verb in the infinitive, especially in the spoken language: *Sentaros en estas sillas (Sit on those chairs) instead of Sentaos en estas sillas.

This error is very frequent when using the verb ir (to go): *Ves a comprar el pan (Go to buy some bread) instead of Ve a comprar el pan.

*Irse is widely used in the spoken language, but is incorrect, it should be used id, idos and iros (not recommended but valid).

Some imperative examples:

* Irse de aquí antes de que me enfade (Get out of here before I get angry).

Id a por los gatos (Go get the cats).

Idos a la playa (Go to the beach).

Iros de compras al centro (Go shopping downtown).

The use of the infinitive as if it were an imperative is allowed only when preceded by a: ¡A comer! (Let’s eat!), and when the command is to a group in general and not to a single individual in particular: Salir por la puerta de emergencia y luego girar a la derecha (Exit through the emergency door and then turn right).

Practise non-stop

Practice is what gives the user all the confidence and skill necessary to form the imperative without mistakes. You will notice that in many regions and even countries, the incorrect use of imperative verbs is widespread. In iScribo we want to help you, so we invite you to try our tool and learn Spanish in the most correct way possible.

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