In this lesson, we will learn how to conjugate and use the formal commands in Spanish, including affirmative and negative commands. We will also practice vocabulary related to chores and errands.
The Imperative Mood
Pay attention! Sit straight! Listen carefully! Study Spanish! Wow, those are a lot of commands. We have them in Spanish, too. Spanish has three main groups of verbs:
The imperative mood or mode is the one that refers to commands. It is used to tell people what to do or to order someone around. In this lesson, we will talk about a specific conjugation for commands: the formal commands. In Spanish, there are informal and formal forms of you:
- Informal: tú, used with family members, friends, co-workers with a similar level of authority, and little kids.
- Formal (and more polite): usted (singular) and ustedes (plural), used with people who you don't know very well, or the elderly, bosses, other authority figures, like teachers, etc.
It is the formal usted and ustedes we will be using in this lesson.
Conjugation of Affirmative Commands
To conjugate formal commands in Spanish we do this:
1. Use the yo form of verbs in the present tense (simple present), as in como, bebo, hablo.
2. Get rid of the ending 'o' and replace it with these endings:
|| -e (usted), -en (ustedes)
|| -a (usted), -an (ustedes)
|| -a (usted), -an (ustedes)
It is also important to know that verbs that are irregular or have stem changes carry that same irregularity when they are conjugated as formal commands. Let's look at some examples:
1. Bailar = baile, bailen
2. Beber = beba, beban
3. Vivir = viva, vivan
4. Cabalgar (ride a horse) = cabalgue, cabalguen
5. Tener = tenga, tengan
6. Venir = venga, vengan
The formal commands have the same forms as the present subjunctive. So, if you know this tense, it would be easier for you to remember. If you don't know subjunctive yet, formal commands will help you when you do learn it. Other common irregular verbs in formal commands are:
- Dar = dé, den
- Estar = esté, estén
- Saber = sepa, sepan
- Ir = vaya, vayan
- Ser = sea, sean
- Ver = vea, vean
Negative Formal Commands
Great news! The negative formal commands have the same conjugations, but you add the word 'no' before the verb, and that's it!
1. No camine, no vaya, no tenga, no viva
2. No coman, no duerman, no sigan, no trabajen
Sometimes the subject pronoun usted or ustedes is added to provide some more politeness, although they are not required. You also may want to note that these pronouns are often shortened to ud. and uds. when written:
- Hable Ud. compañero
- Digan Uds. toda la verdad
Direct Object Pronouns & Reflexives
When we use reflexive pronouns or direct and/or indirect object pronouns with commands, we need to do this:
1. Affirmative formal commands: command + indirect obj. pronoun + direct obj. pronoun. They are one longer word. Make sure you use accent marks to maintain the original emphasis of the command. Examples: cómaselo, dígame, háblame, compártanoslo.
2. Negative formal commands: no + indirect obj. pronoun + direct obj. pronoun + command. For the negative commands, we have separated words, not a long word as in the affirmative commands. Examples: no se lo coma, no me diga, no me hable, no nos lo comparta.
Lina and Carlos work at a resort in housekeeping, though this is Lina's first day. Their boss, Beatriz, is teaching Lina how to clean a cabin. Carlos joins in partway through the instruction:
-Después de que una familia salga, limpie (clean) todo para preparar la cabaña (cabin) para otras familias. Traiga los limpiadores del coche (car). Cada día cuando empaque el coche con los limpiadores, dígame si necesito ir de compras (go shopping) para conseguir algo más.
-Primero, lave los platos (dishes) sucios y la mesa (table). No deje residuos (residue) de comida.
-Segundo, sacuda el polvo (dust).
-Tercero, arregle (fix/arrange) la cabaña.
-Cuarto, no olvide revisar (revise) el refrigerador y la estufa (stove).
-Hola Carlos. Ayude a Lina hoy, pero no haga todo el trabajo por ella. Estoy enseñándole como limpiar (clean) una cabaña.
-Quinto, pasen la aspiradora (vacuum) y recuerden aspirar también las cortinas (curtains).
-Sexto, quiten las sábanas (sheets) sucias, pongan sábanas nuevas y hagan la cama (make the bed).
-Séptimo, busquen en el césped (lawn) excremento (excrement) de perro o basura (trash/garbage).
-Al final, saquen la basura (take out the trash).
Now, let's practice by filling in the blanks:
1. Lina, _____ (ir) de compras por una aspiradora nueva.
2. Ustedes, _____ (lavar) la cocina.
3. Usted, _____ (arreglar) la sala.
4. Carlos, _____ (hacer) las camas.
5. Lina y Carlos, _____ (sacar) la basura.
6. Lina, _____ (pasar) la aspiradora.
7. Usted, _____ (limpiar) la cabaña.
8. Ustedes, no _____ (tomar) mucho tiempo. _____ (trabajar) rápido.
In this lesson, we learned about the imperative mood with formal commands, which are often used in the workplace and in school when speaking with usted and ustedes. Negative formal commands simply place the word 'no' in front of the verb, and the verb is conjugated the same as other formal commands. Sigan estudiando (Keep studying)!
After watching this lesson, you should be able to:
- Conjugate formal commands in Spanish
- Practice new vocabulary words related to errands and chores