The Imperative Defined

The imperative, or command, form is used to tell someone to do something. The verb conjugation is in a command form when the understood recipient of the command is “you.” When an English command is given, the “you” is almost never stated; Spanish speakers, however, commonly place the subject pronoun for “you” (tú, Ud., or Uds.) after the command form of the verb.

Set the table, please.

  • Pon la mesa, por favor.
  • Do not do your homework in class.
  • No hagan Uds. su tarea en clase.
  • Repeat the verbs.
  • Repita Ud. los verbos.
  • Swim until five.
  • Nada hasta las cinco.

Because there are three different ways to say “you” in Spanish, there are three different types of commands: tú, usted and ustedes. You must consider how you would address the person you are commanding and use the appropriate command form for tú, Ud., or Uds. For the Ud. and Uds. commands, you use the same form whether you are telling the person(s) to do or not to do something. For the commands, however, a different form is used for the negative than for the affirmative command.