Informal Commands in Spanish: When To Use Them And How?

informal-commands-in-spanish

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As you probably know by now, in Spanish, you often need to choose between using formal vs informal language, depending on who you are speaking with, or the environment you are speaking in.

I’d predict that your first memory of this concept was probably back in day 1 of Spanish lessons, when you studied the differences between usted vs tú.

Today, we’re going to revisit this concept, and specifically how it relates to commands in Spanish.

What is an informal command in Spanish?

An informal command in Spanish is a mood used to directly address another person, and give them an order or instruction. These commands, which use the imperative mood, are almost always found in the 2nd personal pronoun , which is why people also refer to them as informal  commands.

What is the difference between formal and informal commands?

In Spanish, informal commands are used among friends, coworkers, relatives, or when addressing a child, whereas formal commands are often used for elders, employees, authority figures, and people you don’t know.

If in doubt, you can always err on the side of caution and choose the formal approach. As you engage with Spanish speakers over time, you’ll understand these little nuances better.

In this article, you will find the most common informal commands in Spanish, but if you need a more comprehensive guide to formal v informal commands, you can always check out our in=depth post on the imperative mood here.

Recommended: How to Learn Spanish Fast in 2021

How do you make an informal command in Spanish?

This will depend on whether the informal command should be affirmative or negative.

Let’s take a look at the conjugations specifically for informal tú commands.

The affirmative informal (tú) imperative is formed by the 3rd person singular conjugation in the Present Tense:

Verb Stem Endings
Estudiar (to study) estudi- -a
Leer (to read) le- -e
Vivir (to live) viv- -e

Examples:

  • You study for the final test! – ¡Estudia para tu prueba final!
  • Read carefully, that book is a little bit confusing – Lee minuciosamente, ese libro es un poquito confuso
  • You live wherever you want, it is your life! – ¡Vive adonde quieras, es tu vida!

Important: There are 8 verbs that have irregular affirmative  imperative forms, and they are:

English Verb (Infinitive) Imperative form
To say, to tell Decir ¡Di!
To do, to make Hacer ¡Haz!
To go Ir ¡Ve!
To put Poner ¡Pon!
To go out Salir ¡Sal!
To be Ser ¡Sé!
To have Tener ¡Ten!
To come Venir ¡Ven!

Negative Informal

Negative informal commands in Spanish are formed when we use the informal (tú) Imperative and precede it with the word no, next, the form of the Present Simple Subjunctive is needed.

Verb Stem Endings
Saltar (To jump) salt- -es
Beber (To drink) beb- -as
Abrir (To open) abr- -as

Examples:

  • Do not jump on the bed, it is dangerous! – ¡No saltes en la cama, es peligroso!
  • Do not drink rum on an empty stomach! – No bebas ron con el estómago vacío
  • Do not open the window yet! – No abras la ventana todavía

When to use informal commands in Spanish?

Now that we’ve covered the conjugations, we can review three common scenarios that require you to use informal commands.

Scenario #1: Talking about manners

  • Do not talk with your mouth full, it is rude – ¡No hables con la boca llena! es de mala educación
  • Learn to be on time because it is vital! – ¡Aprende a ser puntual porque es fundamental!
  • Treat people with respect, kindness and friendliness! – ¡Trata a las personas con respeto, amabilidad y cordialidad!
  • Listen to the person who speaks to you without interrupting them! – ¡Escucha a la persona que habla contigo sin interrumpirla!

Scenario #2: Asking for information

  • Tell me the time, please – Dime la hora, por favor
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name. Repeat it again –  Lo siento, no escuché tu nombre. Repítelo de nuevo
  • Tell me about your job, it sounds interesting –  Cuéntame de tu trabajo, suena interesante
  • Please, show me where the pharmacy is – Indícame dónde está la farmacia, por favor

Scenario #3: Giving a direction

  • Turn right when you get to the intersection – Dobla a la derecha cuando llegues al cruce
  • Walk five blocks and cross the street – Camina cinco cuadras y cruza la calle
  • Ask for help if you really need it – Pide ayuda si la necesitas realmente
  • Take the train / bus to the next stop – Toma el tren / autobús hasta la siguiente estación

Informal Commands: Exercises

Now, time for some practice!

Choose the correct conjugation to complete each sentence:

1. No ___ (haz/hagas/haces) ejercicio, necesitas descansar.

2. ¡___ (decías, digas, di) la verdad ahora!

3. ¡No ___ (ve, vas, vayas) a esa fiesta, creo que será aburrida.

4. ___ (sé, eres, seas) una buena persona con los mayores.

5. El día está muy lluvioso, es mejor que no ___ (sales, sal, salgas) hoy.

6. Verónica me dijo: “___ (vienes, vengas, ven) a mi fiesta de cumpleaños.

7. ___ (habla, hablas, hablamos) más despacio, por favor, no puedo entenderte.

8. No tengo tu número de teléfono, pero ___ (dices, dime, decías) tu correo electrónico.

9. ¡ ___ (hagas, haz, haces) silencio, no puedo escuchar la canción!

10. No te ___ (metas, mete, metías) en problemas de nuevo, por favor.

Answers

1. No hagas ejercicio, necesitas descansar.

2. ¡ la verdad ahora!

3. ¡No vayas a esa fiesta, creo que no habrá muchos invitados.

4.  una buena persona con los mayores.

5. El día está muy lluvioso, es mejor que no salgas hoy.

6. Verónica me dijo: “Ven mi fiesta de cumpleaños, es esta noche”.

7. Habla más despacio, por favor, no puedo entenderte.

8. No tengo tu número de teléfono, pero dime tu correo electrónico.

9. ¡Haz silencio, no puedo escuchar la canción!

10. No te metas en problemas de nuevo, por favor.

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