Spanish Formal Affirmative and Negative Commands

As it might be assummed, formal commands are used when speaking with people in a formal way. Specifically, formal commands are used when addressing people who are older than you, those you don't know very well, or people who you'd typically show respect towards, such as a priest, professor, boss, etc. With the exception of Spain, formal commands are also used to address any group of people. Read and listen to the following examples of affirmative commands, then repeat each out loud.

Singular Formal Commands (usted)

Be nice to my sister.
Sea amable con mi hermana.
Please pay the bill.
Por favor, pague la cuenta.
Open the door, please.
Abra la puerta, por favor.

Plural Formal Commands (ustedes)

Please go through the door.
Por favor, pasen por la puerta.
Come next week.
Vengan la próxima semana.
Open your books and read.
Abran sus libros y lean.

Forming Affirmative Formal Commands

If you already know the present subjunctive forms of Spanish, forming affirmative formal commands is easy. All Ud. (usted) and Uds. (ustedes) commands use the exact same form as the Ud. and Uds. present subjunctive:

    Step 1 - Find the yo form of the present indicative.
    Step 2 - Drop the -o ending.
    Step 3 - Finally, add the following endings:



-ar verbs:
-e (for Ud.), -en (for Uds.)

-er and -ir verbs:
-a (for Ud.), -an (for Uds.)

The following are three examples of singular and plural formal commands using the regular verbs hablar, comer, and escribir conjugated in the present subjunctive.

Speak more slowly.
(singular)
Hable usted más despacio.
Speak more slowly.
(plural)
Hablen ustedes más despacio.


Eat the lunch.
(singular)
Coma usted el almuerzo.
Eat the lunch.
(plural)
Coman ustedes el almuerzo.


Write the note.
(singular)
Escriba usted la nota.
Write the note.
(plural)
Escriban ustedes la nota.


When the first person singular yo form is irregular in the present subjunctive then the verb form of the formal command must also be irregular. Read and listen to the following examples of formal commands using irregular verbs, then repeat each out load.

Have a good day.
(plural)
Tengan ustedes un buen día.
Bring the food.
(singular)
Traiga usted la comida.
Come with us.
(singular)
Venga usted con nosotros.


When the first person singular yo form is stem-changing in the present subjunctive then the verb form of the formal command must also change it's stem. Read and listen to the following examples of formal commands using stem-changing verbs, then repeat each out load.

Count the money.
(singular)
Cuente usted el dinero.
Please, return as soon as possible.
(plural)
Por favor, vuelvan ustedes lo mas pronto posible.
Ask her for more food.
(singular)
Pidale por más comida.


Pronoun Placement in Affirmative Formal Commands

When used in conjunction with affirmative formal commands, pronouns are attached to the end of the conjugated verb in the command. When the conjugated verb has more than one syllable (which it usually does), a written accent is added to preserve the original stress of the verb. Read and listen to the following examples, then repeat each out loud.

Bring it to me right now.
Tráigamelo ahora mismo.
Please, eat it.
Cómalo, por favor.
Give me the book.
me el libro.


Negative Formal Commands

Negative formal commands are formed the same way as affirmative formal commands. To make a formal command negative, simply add "no", or another negative word, in front of the affirmative formal command present subjunctive form. Read and listen to the following examples, then repeat each out loud.

Don't take out your toys.
No saquen sus juguetes.
Do not put your car in the garage.
No ponga su coche en el garaje.
Never ever come to my house.
Nunca jamás venga a mi casa.


Pronoun Placement in Negative Formal Commands

When using pronouns in conjunction with negative commands, the pronoun is placed in front of the verb in the negative command and follows the negative word, such as "no". Read and listen to the following examples, then repeat each out loud.

Do not get up until 6 o'clock in the morning.
No se levante hasta las 6 de la mañana.
Never give knifes to children.
Nunca les dé cuchillos a los niños.
Never give them to them.
Nunca se los dé.