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Using preposition a + infinitive to express a command

There is a verbal structure in Spanish that is used to express a command:

Preposition "a" + Infinitivo

With this structure we don't need to specify who the command is directed to, so it is used to ask whoever is in front of you to do something, it can be one or more people. 

Have a look and listen to these examples:

  • The situation is "it is noisy". Someone says:   

    ¡A callar!
    Be quiet!

  • The situation is "the food is ready at the table". Someone says:

    ¡A comer!
    Let's eat!

When the verb is a pronominal verb, remember to keep the reflexive pronoun "se".

For example:

¡A lavarse las manos!
Wash your hands!

It is also acceptable to use the specific reflexive pronoun

  • te (i.e when the command is directed to one person)
  • os (i.e when the command is directed to more than one person)

Andrés, ¡A lavarte las manos!
Andrés, wash your hands!

Vosotros dos, ¡A lavaros las manos!
You two, wash your hands!

We don't use this type of command to ask someone to "not" do something, for example:

 ¡A no pintar en la pared! (Don't paint on the wall!)

In these cases, we would use the more usual form for negative commands.  See also Forming simple negative commands : No + El Presente de Subjuntivo (present subjunctive)

 

As a general rule, remember that the verbal form after a preposition (a, de, por, para, en...) is an infinitive. Have a look at this example:

¡Todos a bailar! (Let's all dance!)
¡Todos a bailando!
¡Todos a bailamos!

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Phrasal/Prepositional

Examples and resources

Andrés, ¡A lavarte las manos!
Andrés, wash your hands!


¡A lavarse las manos!
Wash your hands!


¡A callar!
Be quiet!


¡A comer!
Let's eat!


Vosotros dos, ¡A lavaros las manos!
You two, wash your hands!


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