Forming the imperative for usted/ustedes/nosotros/nosotras (affirmative and negative commands)

In Spanish, the nosotros/nosotras/usted/ustedes forms of the imperative, both in affirmative and negative commands take same form as El Presente de Subjuntivo. Let's look at nosotros/nosotras first, then usted/ustedes.

Nosotros/Nosotras (we)

To say Let's [do something] or Let's not [do something]  in Spanish as a form of command to ourselves we use the verb in the present subjunctive form for nosotros/nosotras (first person plural). 

Have a look at these examples:

Ella no quiere que nosotros comamos tan rápido. (present subjunctive)
She doesn't want us to eat so fast.

¡Comamos más rápido!
Let's eat faster!

(affirmative command)

¡No comamos tan rápido!
Let's not eat so fast!

(negative command)

Notice how they all coincide in their form. 

Alternative structures not using the imperative

Bear in mind though, that in a more colloquial way, we would probably use an interrogative sentence introduced by "¿Por qué no...?" followed by El Presente with the same purpose, an affirmative command to "ourselves". For example:

¿Por qué no vamos a la playa?
Why don't we go to the beach?/Let's go to the beach!

And in the negative cases, we would probably prefer to use a different sentence structure introduced by "Mejor no..." followed by El Presente. For example:

Mejor no vamos a la playa. 
Let's not go to the beach!

Both "¿Por qué no...?" and "Mejor no..." followed by El Presente are more frequently used in speech than their equivalent forms using the imperative:

Vayamos a la playa.
Let's go to the beach! (affirmative command)

No vayamos a la playa.
Let's not go to the beach! (negative command)

Here are other examples using the imperative:

¡Hagamos una fiesta!
Let's organise a party!

¡Limpiemos el coche!
Let's clean the car!

¡Tengamos paciencia!
Let's be patient!

¡No seamos egoístas!
Let's not be selfish!

Usted (you formal singular) and Ustedes (you formal plural)

To express an affirmative or negative command directed to "you" (formal) we also use the usted/ustedes form (3rd person singular/plural) in El Presente de Subjuntivo. A typical situation is in a formal conversation or transaction, for example in a bank.

Here are some examples:

Necesito que firme aquí, Señor. (present subjunctive)
I need you to sign here, Sir.

Señor, firme aquí, por favor.
Sir, sign here, please.

(affirmative command)

Señor, no firme aquí.
Sir, do not sign here.

(negative command)

Señoritas, no es bueno que beban mucho champán. (present subjunctive)
Ladies, it is not good to drink lots of champagne.

Señoritas, beban un poco de champán.
Ladies, drink a little champagne.

(affirmative command)

Señoritas, ¡no beban tanto champán!
Ladies, don't drink so much champaigne!

(negative command)

Notice how they all coincide in their form. 

Another typical context for this is road signs:

Conduzca despacio.
Drive slowly.

(affirmative command, usted form)

Disminuya la velocidad.
Reduce speed.

(affirmative command, usted form)

No tiren papeles al suelo.
Don't throw papers on the floor.

(negative command, ustedes form)

Here are more examples (usted):

¡Tenga el cambio!
Here's your change! 

Señor, ¡no corra!
Sir, don't run

¡Diga la verdad!
Tell the truth! 

Here are more examples (ustedes):

¡Salgan a tiempo!
Leave on time!

Señor y Señora Valls, ¡compren una nueva lavadora!
Mr. and Mrs. Valls, buy a new washing machine!

¡No digan mentiras!
Don't tell lies! 

No hablen tan rápido, por favor.
Don't speak so fast, please.

 

Remember that many verbs undergo stem changes and consonant changes when they are conjugated in  El Presente de Subjuntivo and these need to be kept when making a command.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

¡Vayan juntos a la fiesta!
Go together to the party! (You formal plural.)


¡Hablemos con tranquilidad!
Let's talk with calm!


Señor, no firme aquí.
Sir, do not sign here.


Señor y Señora Valls, ¡compren una nueva lavadora!
Mr. and Mrs. Valls, buy a new washing machine!


No hablen tan rápido, por favor.
Don't speak so fast, please.


¡Hagan el trabajo!
Do the job! ("you" plural formal = "ustedes")


Señoritas, beban un poco de champán.
Ladies, drink a little champagne.


¡Tengan más cuidado!
Be more careful! ("you" plural formal = "ustedes")


¡Pongamos música!
Let's turn the music on!


¡Sean simpáticos!
Be nice! ("you" plural formal)


¡Juguemos al ajedrez!
Let's play chess!


Señor, firme aquí, por favor.
Sir, sign here, please.


Señor Perez, ¡compre un ordenador cuanto antes!
Mr. Perez, buy a computer as soon as possible!


¡No digan mentiras!
Don't tell lies! 


¡Pongan la radio! 
Put the radio on! ("you" plural formal = "ustedes")


Disminuya la velocidad.
Reduce speed.


¡No corran por allí!
Don't run over there! ("you" plural formal = "ustedes")


No tiren papeles al suelo.
Don't throw papers on the floor.


¡Hagamos la cena! 
Let's make dinner! 


¡Pidamos otra ronda!
Let's order another round!


¡Venga a la fiesta!
Come to the party! ("you" singular formal = "usted")


¡No comamos tan rápido!
Let's not eat so fast!


¡Tenga el cambio!
Here's your change! 


¡Chicos, corramos la maratón!
Guys, let's run the marathon!


¡Salgan a tiempo!
Leave on time!


¡Ponga atención!
Pay attention! ("you" singular formal = "usted")


Señoritas, ¡no beban tanto champán!
Ladies, don't drink so much champaigne!


¡No seamos egoístas!
Let's not be selfish!


Disminuya la velocidad.
Reduce speed.


Señorita, ¡cante esa linda canción!
Miss, sing that lovely song!


¡Vengan a la escuela!
Come to school! ("you" plural formal = "ustedes")


¡Hagamos una fiesta!
Let's organise a party!


¡Limpiemos el coche!
Let's clean the car!


¡Comamos más rápido!
Let's eat faster!


¡Amigos, bebamos hasta el amanecer!
Friends, let's drink until dawn!


Señor, ¡no corra!
Sir, don't run


¡Diga la verdad!
Tell the truth! 


¡Tengamos una buena fiesta!
Let's have a great party!


¡Salga a la calle!
Go out on the street! ("you" singular formal = "usted")


¡Conduzcamos con cuidado!
Let's drive carefully!


Conduzca despacio.
Drive slowly.


¡Vaya a la escuela! (Usted.)
Go to school! (You sing. formal.)


¡Salgamos esta noche!
Let's go out tonight!


¡Haga la compra! 
Do the shopping! ("you" singular formal = "usted")


¡Vayamos al pueblo! (Nosotros/nosotras.)
Let's go to the village!


¡No tuerzan a la derecha!
Don't turn right! ("you" plural formal)


Señora Matos, ¡compre lo que hay en la lista!
Mrs Matos, buy what's on the list!


¡Tengamos paciencia!
Let's be patient!


¡Seamos inteligentes!
Let's be intelligent!


Q&A Forum 1 question, 5 answers

WylieC1Kwiziq community member

"vamos"/"vayamos"

I know that "no vayamos" is the correct negative command for "ir"; but I was under the impression, and my Barron's verb book confirms, that the correct affirmative imperative for "ir" is "vamos" not "vayamos".

Asked 2 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Wylie

If we give an affirmative or negative command to "ourselves" as in "let's do something" or "let's not do something", we use (for both) the present subjunctive form. That applies to all verbs.

However, it is true that for the affirmative command using the verb "ir" we can use both: vamos and vayamos, the first coinciding with the present tense of ir for nosotros, the second coinciding with the present subjunctive of the verb ir for nosotros.

Using "vamos" is more colloquial and "vayamos" is more formal. If you are among friends it is likely to hear "vamos":

Vamos a la piscina. (Let's go to the swimming pool)

In a more formal setting, for example, with clients in the office, it is more likely to use "vayamos", for example:

Vayamos a la sala de reuniones, señores.

Let's go to the meeting room, Sirs.

I hope this clarifies it for you.

Un saludo

Inma

AlanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Inma, is vamos as an imperative really considered colloquial? It seems odd that grammar books give this as the standard form. My grammar book suggests that vayamos is used as an imperative only in set phrases, e.g. vayamos al grano. Perhaps vayamos is now considered overly formal for normal use?

WylieC1Kwiziq community member

Thanks Inma. I appreciate your detailed, clear answer. It does clarify usage of the imperative for "ir".  It appears that Barron's Spanish Verbs is neglegent in not giving vayamos as another option for the 1st person plural affirmative command.

AlanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

It's not just Barron's verb book, every other book seems to agree. I've also seen an explanation for this irregularity based on the fact that in old Spanish, vamos could also be a subjunctive. This is what the RAE says about it:

http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=ir

2. La forma vamos es hoy la primera persona del plural del presente de indicativo... pero en el español medieval y clásico era, alternando con vayamos, forma de primera persona del plural del presente de subjuntivo... Como resto de su antiguo valor de subjuntivo, la forma vamos se emplea, con más frecuencia que vayamos, con finalidad exhortativa... la forma de subjuntivo vayamos, con este sentido, ha quedado casi relegada a la lengua literaria...


InmaKwiziq team member

Alan, 

Yes, nowadays, the form "vayamos" is more formal and only used in more formal situations. This is why I gave Wylie two different examples, one using "vamos" to say let's do something among friends and another using "vayamos" to say let's do something in a formal setting (work related, e.g.with clients)

Saludos

Inma

"vamos"/"vayamos"

I know that "no vayamos" is the correct negative command for "ir"; but I was under the impression, and my Barron's verb book confirms, that the correct affirmative imperative for "ir" is "vamos" not "vayamos".

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