Intro to Informal Commands (mandatos informales)

The following is meant as a supplement to the book explanation of tú commands. It can't hurt to see it all one more time:

I. Mandatos afirmativos: Affirmative tú commands are pretty easy. You simply use the regular THIRD PERSON (él/Ud) form of the verb:

Yo quiero cantar --> Pues, ¡canta!
Yo quiero vivir --> Pues, ¡vive!

There are nine common verbs that have irregular tú command forms:

decir --> di
hacer --> haz
ir --> ve
poner --> pon
salir --> sal
ser --> sé
tener --> ten
venir --> ven
ver --> ve

Some of these verbs have compound forms which will also show the irregularity:

detener --> detén (to detain, hold back)
obtener --> ??

II. Mandatos negativos: It's a little harder to tell someone not to do something. Negative commands are formed like Ud. commands (using the subjunctive form): go back to the regular yo form of the verb and add the opposite ending (-ar verbs --> es, -er / -ir verbs --> as)

Mirar --> miro --> no mires

Leer --> leo --> no leas

Decir --> digo --> no digas

Tener --> tengo --> no tengas

III. Posiciones de los pronombres y complementos: This is the same as with Ud commands: direct object, indirect object, and reflexive pronouns are attached to affirmative commands and are not attached to negative commands. (Affirmative = yes, you do attach pronouns. Negative = no, you can't attach pronouns) You will need to write in an accent mark if adding the pronoun(s) makes the affirmative command more than two syllables long. The stress stays on the verb stem.

Diles la verdad a tus padres. No les digas mentiras.
Mira tu propio examen. Míralo. No mires la hoja de tu amigo. No la mires.
Ponte los zapatos. Póntelos. No te pongas los zapatos. No te los pongas.

Commands really aren't hard, they're just complicated. They take tons of practice. This is the only area where you as adults are at a disadvantage compared to children, because children hear hundreds of these a day -- ¡No hagas eso! ¡Haz lo que te dice tu mamá! ¡No hables tanto! Dile 'hola' a tu abuelita. etc, etc. People are generally a little more polite to adults.

You can make up for this by repeating formulaic commands such as

¡No me diga / No me digas! You're kidding; You don't say.

Pase Ud / Pasa After you (or Come in)

Oiga / Oye Excuse me / Hey! (Said with a questioning intonation if you're using the Ud form.)

Mire / Mira Look... (This is a good one; you can start every sentence you say to a professor with "pues, mire Ud..." and you'll seem very intellectual while you're actually stalling for time.)

Cállese / Cállate Shut up!

Váyase/Vete al diablo Go to the devil (There is a ruder expression for this, but you can look that up yourselves)

Copyright Ann Wildermuth, University of Texas at Austin, 1997. For permission to use this page or any part of its contents, contact the author by e-mail (

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