Ten Spanish Commands to Use with Kids
While telling our kids what to do is generally just another parental chore, teaching them to follow our instructions in Spanish can actually be fun! Giving commands in Spanish is possible through the use of imperatives. This type of verb conjugation tends to be a bit complicated with four separate distinctions, but here we simplify it to how you will speak to your child using one form, the tú form. Learning ways to use commands with your child will increase daily Spanish use, improve their listening skills, and enrich their lesson experiences with Spanish instruction.
In English, it is much more common to use the “soft imperative” that goes something like this: “Could you come here?” instead of blurting out, “Come here!” However, in Spanish, while the soft imperative can be used (¿Podrías venir acá?), it is much more common to hear the unsoftened version: ¡Ven acá! and it is not rude. Keep in mind for this article, we are using the tú form instead of the usted form.
Do or Don’t
Imperative verbs can be affirmative or negative. In order to make affirmative imperative, you use the 3rd person indicative form. This rule applies to all regular verbs. For example:
In order to make a negative imperative, you use the subjunctive tú form. For example:
Now that you know how the imperative is formed in both affirmative and negative forms using any regular verb, you can practice using your favorite verbs with your child!
The irregular verbs, however, do not follow a predictable pattern. They are many very useful verbs that are irregular in this sense and so they must be memorized. That is why our Top 10 Commands are all irregular!
Top 10 Commands to Use with Kids
Here is a list of the top 10 most useful imperatives to use with your child:
As you can see, the affirmative imperative form is irregular and you will simply have to memorize it and use it often with your little one to help them learn it, too. The negative imperative form is, as we learned above, made from the subjunctive tú form. Here are some ways to use your new command words in example instruction scenarios:
Some more useful phrases:
Recoge tus juguetes – pick up your toys
Bajate de allí – get down from there
Limpia tu cuarto – clean your room
Lava los trastes – wash the dishes
Vístete – get dressed
Improve with Imperatives
By teaching your child to follow your instructions in Spanish, they will be much more likely to use these words on their own. It will bolster their listening skills, improve their memory of commonly-used verbs, and it may just make your child love following instructions! Give your child a chance to use their new knowledge of imperatives with a native Spanish speaker by signing up for a free online class. Your child is guaranteed to speak Spanish after the first class!
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