Whether you're the planner in your friend group or you give yourself pep talks at your desk, being able to use commands comes in handy! I've been using a lot of commands myself to stay on track with my big goal this year: running the Chicago Marathon. Qué emocionante, ¿no? How exciting!

Commands are important for Spanish learners, too, and there are more forms to learn than we have in English. Here are some tips and tricks for making affirmative commands (Do it! Try! Keep going!) and negative commands (Don't give up! Don't worry! Don't lose steam!) in Spanish.

Click here to jump to the verb tables for formal and informal Spanish commands!

How to make affirmative commands in Spanish

One of my goals this year is to run in the Chicago Marathon, so I've set reminders on my phone to keep up my training regimen. That includes a lot of commands!

For me, some do’s are:

  • Ve al gimnasio (Go to the gym)
  • Estira tus músculos (Stretch your muscles)
  • Corre por 30 minutos (Run for 30 minutes)
  • Duerme por 8 horas (Sleep for 8 hours)

(Want to know why this is por 8 horas and not para? Use por for time and duration!)

So how can you start making a list of do’s for yourself? It's easy! To give a command to one person you're on friendly terms with (the second person singular form), you'll need the command: Use the él/ella form (the third person singular) of the verb in the present tense.

Verb Affirmative command (the él/ella form of the present tense!)
hablar ¡Habla! (Speak!)
comer ¡Come! (Eat!)
vivir ¡Vive! (Live!)
dormir ¡Duerme! (Sleep!)
practicar ¡Practica! (Practice!)

(Sometimes these examples are a little awkward on their own, but you can imagine them in full sentences, like "Live closer to me, you're my best friend!" or "Practice your Spanish every day!")

There are also some irregular commands that you'll have to memorize. Here are the commands for verbs that end in -go in the present tense yo form:

Verb Yo form in present tense Affirmative command
hacer hago (I do/make) ¡Haz! (Do! Make!)
decir digo (I say) ¡Di! (Say!)
poner pongo (I put) ¡Pon! (Put!)
salir salgo (I leave) ¡Sal! (Leave!)
tener tengo (I have) ¡Ten! (Have!)
venir vengo (I come) ¡Ven! (Come!)

Besides the verbs that end in -go in the yo form, there are just a few more important exceptions to commit to memory:

Verb Affirmative command
ser ¡Sé libre! (Be free!)
ir ¡Ve al gimnasio! (Go to the gym!)
ver ¡Ve el cielo! (See the sky!)

How to make negative commands in Spanish

Now that you have a "do's" list, let’s work on your "don'ts" list! In Spanish, when you want to tell yourself or someone else not to do something, all you have to do is remember these simple steps:

  1. Take the yo
  2. Drop the -o
  3. Attach the opposite ending
  4. Add an -s

That's right: For negative commands, the -ar verbs will get endings with e (as though they were -er and -ir verbs), and the -er and -ir verbs will get endings with a!

For example, I want to run for 30 minutes so I tell myself "Corre por 30 minutos," but if I don’t want to run every day I would use the verb correr (to run) and apply the 4 steps:

Steps for negative commands Example with correr
1. Take the yo corro
2. Drop the -o corr-
3. Attach the opposite ending corra
4. Add an -s corras

So to tell myself not to run every day I would say, No corras todos los días.”

Similarly, I know that using cotton clothing won’t be very comfortable during long runs. Here then I would use the verb usar (to use) and apply the 4 steps:

Steps for negative commands Example with usar
1. Take the yo uso
2. Drop the -o us-
3. Attach the opposite ending use
4. Add an -s uses

So to tell myself not to use cotton clothes for running I would say, No uses ropa de algodón para correr.”

Here are more common negative commands for the second person singular. (These are just the verbs—you can imagine them in full sentences like "Don't eat the cupcakes, they're for the party!" or "Don't live too close to the airport, it'll be so noisy!")

Verb Negative command (follow the 4 steps!)
hablar ¡No hables ___! (Don't speak ___!)
comer ¡No comas ___! (Don't eat ___!)
vivir ¡No vivas ___! (Don't live ___!)
dormir ¡No duermas ___! (Don't sleep ___!)
practicar ¡No practiques ___! (Don't practice ___!)

Remember the irregular affirmative commands, for the verbs that end in -go in present tense? They follow the regular pattern for negative commands! 🙌 Follow the same 4 steps to get no vengas for "don't come," no tengas for "don't have," etc.

And, naturally, there are few exceptions to memorize:

Verb Negative command
ser ¡No seas ___! (Don't be ___!)
ir ¡No vayas ___! (Don't go ___!)
ver ¡No veas ___! (Don't see ___!)

Formal commands for usted and ustedes

As you know, Spanish also has formal ways of talking to people, and you'll use usted (a formal pronoun) and a different verb form to talk to someone you want to show respect to. And to give a command to a group of people, you'll be using ustedes, one of the forms of Spanish y'all.

Making commands for usted and ustedes is easy! All you have to do is follow the same process for the negative commands, but don’t add the -s! And for the negative commands, just add no. So no tengan miedo, dear learners—don't be afraid!

Duo or duo not, there is no try! 😏

So get to it! Set personal goals! Build good study habits! Don't lose that streak! And be sure to keep practicing Spanish—now with your own do's and don'ts list, en español!

Affirmative commands (do's)

Verb form Usted form Ustedes form
hablar habla hable hablen
comer come coma coman
vivir vive viva vivan
dormir duerme duerma duerman
practicar practica practique practiquen
decir di diga digan
hacer haz haga hagan
poner pon ponga pongan
salir sal salga salgan
tener ten tenga tengan
venir ven venga vengan
ser sea sean
ir ve vaya vayan
ver ve vea vean

Negative commands (don'ts)

Verb form Usted form Ustedes form
hablar no hables no hable no hablen
comer no comas no coma no coman
vivir no vivas no viva no vivan
dormir no duermas no duerma no duerman
practicar no practiques no practique no practiquen
decir no digas no diga no digan
hacer no hagas no haga no hagan
poner no pongas no ponga no pongan
salir no salgas no salga no salgan
tener no tengas no tenga no tengan
venir no vengas no venga no vengan
ser no seas no sea no sean
ir no vayas no vaya no vayan
ver no veas no vea no vean