11.4 Formal Commands

All formal commands (the affirmative and negative forms of Ud. and Uds.) take the present subjunctive. The subject pronouns either goes after the command or is omitted.

Diga la verdad. Tell the truth.
No digan mentiras. Don’t tell lies.
Lean Uds. este artículo. Read this article.

All object pronouns are attached to affirmative commands and precede negative commands.

Díganos todo. Tell us everything.
No me diga nada del asunto. Don’t tell me anything about the matter.

It remains important at times to remember infinitive endings so that you know, for example, that escribe means “he (she, you) write(s)” and that escriba is the command “write.” Context should clarify when a command is being given. (Exclamation points are common, but optional, with commands in Spanish). When affirmative commands have objects pronouns attached to them, they should be easy to recognize:

Léamelo. Read it to me.
Véndaselo. Sell it to him (her, them).

The negative commands corresponding to the above ones are No me lo lea and No se lo venda.

At times one sees the command as a plus infinitive:

¡A marchar! Leave! (Get going!)

Other times one sees the present indicative used as a command:

Tú te callas. You be quiet.

Impersonal commands, especially on signs in public, are often expressed by nothing more than the infinitive:

No entrar. No entrance.
No fumar. No smoking.
Salir aquí. Exit here.

 

Last revised on June 25, 2021.