nosotros-commands

It’s Imperative: The Spanish Nosotros Command Mood and How to Use It

Let’s do this!

Let’s learn some Spanish!

Sit down and relax!

Boy, do I love being bossy from time to time.

The three sentences opening this post are commands. Commands are almost always in the imperative mood.

But what is the imperative mood? And how do you form commands using the nosotros (we) form?

Keep on reading to find out the answer to these questions.

You are about to learn some great stuff about the Spanish imperative and the nosotros commands.

Shall we begin?
 


 
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Nosotros Commands and the Spanish Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is really a mood.

OK, not that kind of mood—a grammatical mood.

There are three grammatical moods in Spanish: the indicative, the subjunctive and the imperative.

Today we are tackling the imperative. Before we dive into the specifics of the nosotros imperative mood, let’s learn a little about the imperative mood in general.

What is the imperative mood?

Simply put, the imperative mood is used to give orders and commands. It normally does not include a subject (it is elliptical) but most of the time it refers to the second person singular (you).

In English, the imperative consists of the base form of the verb:

“Drink!”

“Go away!”

“Tell me!”

Each of these commands can refer to the second person singular and plural or the third person singular. If your want to include the speaker (first person plural), you use the “let’s” imperative (more on this in the main part of the post):

“Let’s go to the cinema!”

“Let’s have fun!”

“Let’s do it!”

Spanish, however, has a different ending for each pronoun and the imperative mood must be conjugated according to the person or people you are referring to (with the exception of the first person singular imperative, which does not exist—you cannot command yourself!).

We have a great post on the imperative already, so I will just give you the endings for the three conjugations in the imperative mood:

-ar:

(tú) -a
(él, ella, usted) -e
(nosotros/as) -emos
(vosotros/as) -ad
(ellos/as, ustedes) -en

-er:

(tú) -e
(él, ella, usted) -a
(nosotros/as) -amos
(vosotros/as) -ed
(ellos/as, ustedes) -an

-ir:

(tú) -e
(él, ella, usted) -a
(nosotros/as) -amos
(vosotros/as) -id
(ellos/as, ustedes) -an

For this post, we will be focusing on the nosotros/as conjugation!

Uses of the Spanish Imperative Mood

Broadly speaking, we normally use the imperative to give commands, but if you take a closer look at some examples, you will realize the imperative can have other uses, as well. Here are all the ways you can use the imperative mood:

To give commands and orders

The most common use of the imperative is to give commands, whether positive or negative:

Bébete la leche. (Drink the milk.)

No vengas. (Don’t come.)

¡Corre! (Run!)

To make suggestions

It can also be used to make suggestions, especially in the first person plural:

Vayamos a la playa. (Let’s go to the beach.)

Pidamos pizza. (Let’s order pizza.)

Tomemos un taxi. (Let’s grab a cab.)

To ask for things

Sometimes you just want to ask another person for something. You still have to use the imperative but strictly speaking, this is not an order—just a request.

You can make these utterances more polite by adding por favor (please):

Pásame la sal, por favor. (Pass me the salt, please.)

Tengo frío. Por favor, cierra la ventana. (I’m cold. Close the window, please.)

Por favor, ayúdame. (Help me, please.)

To warn or give advice

We also use the imperative when we want to warn someone of an imminent danger or want to offer our help or give advice.

The imperative mood is very direct and to the point, so it is indeed very helpful when the situation requires it:

¡Ten cuidado! (Be careful!)

¡No te muevas! (Don’t move!)

No vayas a esa fiesta. (Don’t go to that party.)

To give instructions

Instructions can sometimes be confused with commands. They both appear in the imperative mood, but while commands may have a negative undertone or might be uttered in an angry way, instructions are polite and neutral in tone.

Instructions normally appear in recipes, instructional books and when giving directions to someone:

Corta la cebolla y pela las patatas. (Chop the onion and peel the potatoes.)

Gira el aparato y ábrelo. (Turn the device over and open it.)

Gira a la izquierda y luego sigue todo recto. (Turn left and then go straight ahead.)

So now we know what the imperative is, how to conjugate it and what it is used for. Let’s learn a couple of tricky facts about it and have a look at the first person plural in depth.

Enjoy!

Spanish Nosotros Commands for Subtle Suggestions

Nosotros commands are quite special, both in Spanish and English, because they are the only ones that include the speaker in the action.

While English uses “let’s” to do this, Spanish just conjugates the verb in the first person plural (we) and calls it a day.

However, there are a couple of things you should take into account when using nosotros commands if you want to get them right all the time.

nosotros-commands

To see these commands in action, it is a good idea to watch authentic videos like the ones on FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You will be able to see nosotros commands and many other grammar concepts as native speakers actually use them. And the immersive, entertaining content makes grammar and vocabulary much more memorable!

Pay special attention to the following four sections and you will become a Master of Commands in no time!

Nosotros Commands and the Tenses They Use

As you saw at the beginning of this post, each person (except “I”) has its own ending in the imperative.

While in English you can say “Drink!” in order to refer to “you,” “you polite” and “plural you,” in Spanish you need to conjugate the imperative differently depending on the person:

Bebe. (Drink. [you])

Beba. (Drink. [Mr., Ms., Mrs…])

Bebed. (Drink. [you plural])

This happens all the time with every verb!

Nosotros commands also have a specific ending, but here is a little secret: they use the first person plural of the present subjunctive, so if you know how to conjugate the subjunctive, you do not have to learn a new conjugation form!

Subjunctive: Pensemos (That we think) → Imperative: Pensemos (Let’s think)

Subjunctive: Comamos (That we eat) → Imperative: Comamos (Let’s eat)

Subjunctive: Vayamos (That we go) → Imperative: Vayamos (Let’s go)

Negative nosotros commands work in the exact same way and the conjugation is also identical to the positive commands. The only thing you have to remember is that, as always with negative commands in Spanish, the negative adverb no always comes before the verb:

Subjunctive: No pensemos (That we don’t think) → Imperative: No pensemos (Let’s not think)

Subjunctive: No comamos (That we don’t eat) → Imperative: No comamos (Let’s not eat)

Subjunctive: No vayamos (That we don’t go) → Imperative: No vayamos (Let’s not go)

So remember: Always use the first person plural of the present subjunctive when uttering a nosotros command, either positive or negative. You will never get it wrong.

Here are a couple of extra examples just to make this clear:

Tomemos un taxi para ahorrar tiempo. (Let’s grab a cab in order to save time.)

No bebamos tanto alcohol, por favor. (Let’s not drink so much alcohol, please.)

Estudiemos más. (Let’s study harder.)

Pronoun Position in Spanish Nosotros Commands

Spanish pronouns are always tricky, especially if we are dealing with direct and indirect object pronouns.

Let’s start by saying that some verbs do not need a pronoun (like “to go”), some need one pronoun (like “to smoke”) and others need two (like “to send”).

I am going to use these three verbs in order to show you where to add the pronouns in the nosotros commands, but let’s first have a look at three affirmative sentences:

Vamos al cine. (We go to the cinema.)

Fumamos cigarrillos. (We smoke cigarettes.)

Le mandamos una carta a María. (We send a letter to María.)

When we substitute all the direct and indirect pronouns, we get:

Vamos al cine. (We go to the cinema.)

Los fumamos. (We smoke them.)

Se la mandamos. (We send it to her.)

Cool. We now have the pronouns.

Now let’s transform the sentences into commands and see what happens:

Vayamos al cine. (Let’s go to the cinema.)

Fumémoslos. (Let’s smoke them.)

Mandemosela. (Let’s send it to her.)

What do you see?

There are two things worth mentioning here:

1. Both the affirmative sentences and the commands use the same pronouns. We do not have to worry about pronouns that much, after all! If you know how to use pronouns in affirmative sentences, you have already done more than half the work.

2. If there are any pronouns, they are attached at the end of the command. If you have the pronoun las, the command will end in -las. If you have the pronouns me lo, the command will end in -melo. They get glued onto the verb, or else they might get cold!

Knowing this, we can now have a look at some more examples:

Cómpremoslos. (Let’s buy them.)

Encendámosla. (Let’s switch it on.)

*No dejemoslos. (Let’s not leave them.)

*No digamosela. (Let’s not tell it to him.)

Uh, oh! Houston, we have a problem! There are two grammatically incorrect sentences up there. But why?

Simple! Pronouns love the negative adverb no. They really do. When forming a negative command in Spanish, place the pronouns before the verb, between the no and the verb. And remember to separate them, since they are not so cold standing behind the verb:

No los dejemos. (Let’s not leave them.)

No se la digamos. (Let’s not tell it to him.)

So, summing up: If you have an affirmative command, attach the pronouns to the end of the conjugated verb. If the command is negative, put the pronouns between no and the verb.

Here are a few more examples just to drive these points home:

No nos peleemos. (Let’s not quarrel.)

No la rompamos o mamá se enfadará. (Let’s not break it or else mom will get angry.)

No se lo mencionemos. (Let’s not mention it to them.)

Ir, irse and the ir a imperative

Ir (to go) is a very special verb, not only when it comes to the imperative, but in general.

We can positively say it is one of the most irregular verbs to ever exist in the Spanish language (infinitive: ir; present tense: yo voy — I go; imperfect: yo iba — I was going; preterite: yo fui — I went, etc.).

But that is not the only reason it holds this title!

Do you remember that we use the present subjunctive in order to create nosotros commands?

Well, this form of the verb ir is vayamos! From ir to vayamos… Now, that’s a trip!

Once you know you have to use vayamos, you can relax and start making suggestions like crazy. Vayamos is the Spanish equivalent to “let’s go,” so it will probably cover all the suggestion needs you may have:

Vayamos a la playa. (Let’s go to the beach.)

Vayamos al cine. (Let’s go to the cinema.)

No vayamos al bosque hoy. (Let’s not go to the woods today.)

If this were everything, it would be alright. But there is more!

Ir is one of those verbs that change their meaning when they become reflexive, so irse will have nothing to do with suggesting going to the movies! Instead, irse can be translated as “to leave a place,” and when adding the reflexive pronoun nos we get two forms: vayámonos (let’s leave) and no nos vayamos (let’s not leave):

Vayámonos de este sitio. (Let’s leave this place.)

No nos vayamos todavía. (Let’s not leave yet.)

Do you want even more? Well, I have more!

Ir is so special that it can create commands and make suggestions without even being conjugated in the imperative. That is just crazy!

There is a special so-called imperative that is built with ir a + an infinitive or a place.

I say “so-called” imperative because it is conjugated in the present simple tense but it is indeed used for commands and suggestions, and so widely spread by now that it is almost the only form many people use.

Using it is super easy. You only have to conjugate ir in the present tense, add the preposition a (to) and finally add an action or a place. Have a look:

Vamos a la playa. (Let’s go to the beach. Literally: “We go to the beach.”)

Vamos al cine. (Let’s go to the cinema. Literally: “We go to the cinema.”)

Vamos a comer. (Let’s eat. Literally: “We go to eat.”)

There is only one downside to this, though: You cannot use this form for negative commands or negative suggestions. When making a negative command or suggestion, you need to use the true negative imperative of ir, no vayamos:

No vayamos a la playa. (Let’s not go to the beach.)

No vayamos al cine. (Let’s not go to the cinema.)

No vayamos a comer. (Let’s not go eat.)

Nosotros Commands and Reflexive Verbs

There is one last thing you should bear in mind when using nosotros commands.

Up until now, we have learned how to deal with normal, non-reflexive verbs.

But what happens if we have a verb like abrocharse (to fasten), or bañarse (to have a bath)?

Reflexive verbs are always accompanied by a reflexive pronoun, and we know pronouns can be a little bit tricky sometimes.

The reflexive pronoun for the first person plural is nos. When we conjugate the reflexive verb in the present tense, we get:

Nos bañamos. (We take a bath.)

Nos llamamos “Los Tigres.” (We are called “The Tigers.”)

Nos afeitamos. (We shave.)

In the pronouns section, we learned that we attach pronouns at the end of the verb if the command is positive, and we insert them between the negative adverb no and the verb if the command is negative.

With that in mind, we can suppose the imperative forms of the verbs above are:

*Bañémosnos. (Let’s have a bath.)

No nos bañemos. (Let’s not have a bath.)

*Llamémosnos “Los Tigres.” (Let’s call ourselves “The Tigers.”)

No nos llamemos “Los Tigres.” (Let’s not call ourselves “The Tigers.”)

*Afeitémosnos. (Let’s shave.)

No nos afeitemos. (Let’s not shave.)

Above we have six commands, and while all the negative examples are correct, the positive ones are incorrect.

Here is the problem: When we use the positive nosotros command of a reflexive verb, we follow the same rules except for one tiny detail: the imperative form loses its final -s before adding the pronouns! (Way to complicate things, Spanish language!)

Never forget to do this before you add your pronouns. It will not only sound better if you do it, but it will also be easier to pronounce. Just try it!

Knowing this, we can now form the correct versions of the three incorrect commands:

Bañémonos. (Let’s have a bath.)

Llamémonos “Los Tigres.” (Let’s call ourselves “The Tigers.”)

Afeitémonos. (Let’s shave.)

Much better, isn’t it?

 

If you have read up until this point, congratulations, my friend. You now know everything there is to know about nosotros commands!

As you can see, learning how to use and master the first person plural imperative is super easy if you follow a couple of simple steps.

Also bear in mind that you do not always use the imperative to give orders. This is specially true for nosotros commands, which are mainly used in order to make suggestions.

And now, back to you. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and try to think of as many nosotros commands as possible, both positive and negative and include some reflexive verbs, as well! I am sure after 15-20 examples, you will realize there is nothing to be worried about.

Stay curious and, as always, happy learning!

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