Most Common Irregular Informal Commands in Spanish
Some of the shortest active words in Spanish are irregular informal commands. You can make lots happen with these little words!
Whether it’s “please pass the salt” or “ask me,” there are plenty of situations where you’ll need to request action from someone.
Commands tell someone to do something (affirmative commands) or to tell someone not to do something (negative commands).
Informal commands come into play when you are talking specifically to someone you would address as “tú”—friends, members of your family that are the same age or younger than you, classmates, close colleagues, children, and pets.
Need a quick refresher? Learn more about the difference between formal and informal Spanish.
Affirmative and negative irregular informal commands exist in different ways. Let’s take a look!
An Imperative Mood
Three “moods” exist in Spanish which cover all categories of verb tenses—indicative, subjunctive, and imperative.
The indicative mood is the most common and tends to be descriptive for conveying facts and objective statements.
Cada domingo, Sara habla con Michael por teléfono.
Every Sunday, Sara speaks with Michael on the telephone.
The subjunctive mood expresses reactions and feelings, and subjective notions that may or may not happen.
María espera que Sara hable con Michael hoy.
María hopes that Sara speaks with Michael today.
The imperative mood tells someone to do something (even if extra nicely with a please), so it’s for commands and direct requests.
“¡Sara, habla con Michael hoy!” insiste Maria.
“Sara, talk to Michael today!” Maria insists.
While both indicative and subjunctive are conjugated differently in every tense (past, present, future), imperative exists only as of right now.
Typical of a command, right?
If you’re curious about the other two moods, check out A Simple Guide to Subjunctive vs Indicative Mood in Spanish.
How to Form Commands in Spanish
Before we go into informal commands—and specifically informal irregular commands—let’s get a glimpse of how you form the imperative across the four forms of imperative: tú, usted, nosotros and ustedes.
(If you want to go around giving commands to yourself, do feel free. Just please decide if you’ll be talking formally or informally to yourself!)
Regular -ar verbs, affirmative:
Hablar (to speak)
Regular -ar verbs, negative:
Regular -ir & -er verbs, affirmative:
Comer (To eat)
Beber (To drink)
Regular -ir & -er verbs, negative:
For creating regular commands that are affirmative and negative, you can simplify to one three-step shortcut for forming usted, nosotros and ustedes commands:
- Begin with the present indicative yo form. (hablo, como, bebo)
- Drop the –o to find the stem. (habl-, com-, beb-)
- Use the opposite vowel than usual to form the correct ending. (hable, coma, beba for usted—or hablemos, comamos, bebamos for nosotros)
Basically, imperative takes the same approach to formation as the present subjunctive conjugation—it’s an ending vowel flipper!
If the yo form of the verb is irregular, it also will be when you use the imperative.
How to Form Regular Informal Commands
Tú commands are the oddball of the imperative mood.
The tú conjugation changes whether you are telling someone to do or not do something.
1. Affirmative Informal Commands
But the exception is simple enough—for affirmative tú commands, the verbs appear identical to the present indicative tense of usted!
Basically, when you’re telling someone to do something, you use the third-person singular form of the present indicative (same as el/ella/usted).
You’ll notice that the imperative often pairs with exclamation marks to suggest urgency, but this is not always the case.
Indirect Object Placement
If you want to say “talk to me” or “listen to her”—you’ll need to use an indirect object pronoun (me, te, le, nos, les). Attach the indirect object pronoun to the end of the command in one word.
Cuéntame lo que hiciste.
Tell me what you did.
Escúchale cuando te hable.
Listen to her when she talks to you.
Look at us now!
Direct Object Placement
If you have a direct object pronoun (“tell it to me”), it comes after the command too. If you have both, the direct object pronoun goes after the indirect object pronoun.
¡Cuéntalo! (Tell it!)
¡Cuéntanoslo! (Tell it to us!)
¡Recuérdamelo! (Remind me of it!)
Notice that when a command is more than two syllables, you place an accent on the second to last syllable, not including pronouns.
2. Negative Informal Commands
With negative tú commands, you can do the three-step shortcut above.
- Begin with the present indicative yo‘ form: hablo, como, bebo
- Drop the –o to find the stem.
- Use the opposite vowel than usual to form the correct ending. (no hables, no comas, no bebas)
Another way to remember this conjugation is that it’s the same as the present subjunctive form of tú.
¡No hables! (Don’t speak!)
¡No comas! (Don’t eat!)
¡No bebas! (Don’t drink!)
¡No bailes! (Don’t dance!)
¡No escuches! (Don’t listen.)
¡No mires! (Don’t look!)
¡No duermas! (Don’t sleep!)
Indirect Object Pronoun Placement
With negative tú commands, the indirect object pronoun or direct object pronoun comes before the verb and as separate words.
No me digas eso.
Don’t tell me that.
No le escuches.
Don’t listen to her.
¡No nos mires!
Don’t look at us!
If you have both, the indirect object again precedes the direct object.
¡No me lo digas!
Don’t say it to me!
¡No nos lo muestres!
Don’t show it to us!
No me lo recuerdes.
Don’t remind me of it.
Forming Irregular Informal Commands
Now that we’ve covered all the regularities of forming commands in Spanish, it’s time to explore the irregular informal commands. Here are two lists—in affirmative, then negative—of the most common irregular informal commands you’ll use in Spanish:
Affirmative Irregular Informal Commands
These are the eight most common irregular informal commands that exist in the affirmative, which defy all the rules!
Irregular Informal Command Verbs
No rules to help here! You simply memorize these irregular informal commands (lucky they’re so short).
This mnemonic trick might help: se ve ten ven haz di pon sal
Let’s put each of the eight affirmative irregular informal commands into practice:
Sé bueno para tus abuelos.
Be good for your grandparents.
Sé más serio en esta clase.
Be serious in this class.
¡Ponlo en la mesa!
Put it on the table!
Ponlas detrás de las papeles, please.
Put them behind the papers, por favor.
¡Ten más paciencia con ella!
Have more patience with her!
Tenlo en la manera que prefieras.
Have it as you would prefer it.
¡Sal de mi cuarto, por favor!
Leave my room, please!
¡Sal de tu perspectiva fija y escúchame!
Get out of your perspective and listen to me!
¡Ven a visitarnos prontito!
Come to visit us soon!
Vete a la casa.
Vete al medico mañana.
Go to the doctor tomorrow.
Díme qué pasó anoche.
Tell me what happened last night.
¡Dinos la verdad, por favor!
Tell us the truth, please!
¡Haz tu tarea sin quejarte!
Do your homework without complaining!
Negative Irregular Informal Commands
While not as exceptional as the eight affirmative irregular informal commands, you also have irregular informal commands when telling people what not to do.
Irregular informal commands do not have a shortcut to memorize and the yo form of the verb doesn’t end in -o.
But if you’ve memorized the present indicative forms of the subjunctive mood, then you’ll already know corresponding forms in irregular informal commands!
Here is a list of common irregular informal commands in the negative!
Irregular Informal Command Verbs
Let’s try out some of these negative irregular informal commands:
¡No seas tan odioso!
Don’t be so hateful!
¡No los pongas en la mesa!
Don’t put them on the table!
No tengas tantas expectativas por la noche.
Don’t have so many expectations of the night.
No salgas de la fiesta sin tu sombrero.
Don’t leave the party without your hat.
¡No me vengas con tus problemas otra vez!
Don’t come to me with your problems again.
¡No te vayas sin abrazarme!
Don’t you go without hugging me!
No nos digas los secretos de otras personas.
Don’t tell us other people’s secrets.
¡No hagas un desastre en la cocina!
Don’t make a mess in the kitchen!
¡No estés enojada conmigo, por favor!
Don’t be mad at me, please!
Get a Better Command of Imperatives!
Now you know how to form informal commands as well as irregular informal commands, so you can tell people what to do and what not to do.
While the rules are simple enough, your fluency with commands will get better with practice—especially when you consider how many verbs actually have an irregular stem in the yo form, to create irregular informal commands.
Want more practice? ¡Mejora tu español hoy! Sign up for a free class to learn and practice more commands in Spanish!
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