Irregular Commands in Spanish: Formal & Tu

Instructor: Ashley Zehel

Ashley has a M.A. in Spanish as well as a B.S. in Foreign Language Education. She has taught K-12 and now teaches college level.

Who doesn't love getting to boss people around? In Spanish, commands are formed relatively easily with a few exceptions of irregular command forms. This lesson will look at irregular tú and formal commands in Spanish.

Using Commands in Spanish

Picture this: Through a series of unfortunate events, you somehow end up trapped in a cave far away. You think there is no way out until you discover a mysterious antique oil lamp. You rub its sides in an effort to make it shine when you are surprised by the appearance of a genie. If this sounds suspiciously familiar, you've probably seen it in a movie.

In case you've forgotten the drill, you get three wishes. As master of the genie, you'll need to express these wishes in command form. Commands are usually used to give orders or advice. There's a catch: The genie only speaks Spanish. Since you've been studying, you only need to learn the irregular command forms to make your wishes.

Let's get started so you can make those wishes!

genie lamp

Irregular Commands

Let's say this genie sings you a song, tells you some jokes, takes you on a magical carpet ride, etc. He becomes your good friend, so you would use the familiar when addressing him. We will go over the irregular affirmative and negative commands. These don't follow the regular command rule of using the 3rd person singular (él, ella, usted) form for affirmative orders. They also do not follow the negative pattern of putting the verb in the yo form and adding a -es ending to -ar verbs or a -as ending to -er / -ir verbs.

Some verbs are only irregular in the affirmative form, others in the negative form, and others in both forms. For the purposes of filling in the chart, I will fill in the commands regardless of regularity or irregularity. Irregulars will be in bold.

Verb Meaning Affirmative Command Pronunciation Negative Command Pronunciation
Dar to give da (dah) no des (no dehs)
Decir to say, to tell di (dee) no digas (no dee-gahs)
Estar to be está (es-TAH) no estés (no es-TEHS)
Hacer to do, to make haz (ahs) no hagas (no AH-gahs)
Ir to go ve (veh) no vayas (no VIY-ahs)
Poner to put, to set pon (pohn) no pongas (no POHN-gahs)
Saber to know sabe (SAH-beh) no sepas (no SEH-pahs)
Salir to leave sal (sal) no salgas (no SAL-gahs)
Ser to be (say) no seas (no SAY-ahs)
Tener to have ten (ten) no tengas (no TEN-gahs)
Venir to come ven (ven) no vengas (no VEN-gahs)

So, if you and your new genie friend get in a fight, you might order him to ¡Sal! (leave), but when you decide you couldn't do life without him, say ¡No vayas, por favor! (Please don't go!). ¡Ven! (come!) we have more to discuss!

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