Making Commands Negative in Spanish

Understand the negative imperative and learn to make commands negative in Spanish.

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We can use the imperative (imperativo) for affirmative commands to tell people what to do, but what about telling people what not to do?

We can use the negative imperative for this (imperativo negativo).

Let’s take a look!

Say “no” like a real native Spanish speaker!

spanish negative

You’ll soon be saying “no” like a real Spanish speaker uses it with negative imperative sentences in daily conversation via Busuu’s free online courses.

Negative imperative: Key grammar points

In order to form the negative imperative correctly, you need to be familiar with how to form the negative and the imperative in Spanish. Let’s review it here.

Let’s look first at some affirmative and negative words in Spanish:


  • (yes)
  • claro (of course)
  • vale (okay)


  • no (no)
  • nunca (never)
  • nada (nothing)

Now, let’s quickly review the imperative and what it is used for.

The imperative form of regular verbs is fairly simple. Here are some examples in the table below:

Imperative form of regular verbs

Verb Tú (informal singular you) Vosotros/Vosotras (informal plural you, only in Spain) Usted (formal singular you) Ustedes (formal plural you)
discutir (to discuss) discute discutid discuta discutan
cenar (to have dinner) cena cenad cene cenen
correr (to run) corre corred corra corran

We use the imperative to give orders, advice, to make suggestions or requests or for instructions and directions—which, of course, are very important things to be able to do. Whether it’s in the context of safety or education, the imperative has a lot of helpful uses.

And while it’s always fun knowing how to tell people what to do, it’s just as important to know how to tell people what not to do. And to do so, we use the negative imperative.

NOTE: See “vosotros/vosotras” and “ustedes”? In Spain, “vosotros/vosotras” is used for “you” plural informal, but in Latin America, Spanish speakers use “ustedes”

Don’t miss out on today’s lesson on Spanish negative imperative!

spanish negative

Not only will you be learning negative imperative commands like “No te lo pierdas” (or “Don’t miss it!), you’ll also be mastering how to use them via Busuu’s free online lessons!

Negative imperative: Making commands negative in Spanish

It is important to note that verb forms for the negative imperative are different from the imperative.

Take a look at the negative imperative forms for regular verbs below and compare them to the imperative forms above:

Negative imperative conjugation of regular verbs

Verb Tú (informal singular you) Vosotros/Vosotras (informal plural you, only in Spain) Usted (formal singular you) Ustedes (formal plural you)
discutir (to discuss) no discutas no discutáis no discuta no discutan
cenar (to have dinner) cenar (to have dinner) no cenes no cenéis no cene no cenen
correr (to run) no corras no corráis no corra no corran

Now, let’s break down these forms for each pronoun.

To make the imperative negative form in Spanish, we use no + the present subjunctive form of the verb. We use the present subjunctive to express actions, desires, recommendations, or doubts.

In the case of regular verbs, you will remove the ending from the infinitive form of the verb (-ar, -er, -ir) and add the corresponding present subjunctive ending as follows

For -ar verbs like cenar:

Stem + -es (Tú)

Stem + -e (Usted)

Stem + -éis (Vosotros/Vosotras)

Stem + -en (Ustedes)

For -ir and -er verbs like discutir and correr:

Stem + -as (Tú)

Stem + -a (Usted)

Stem + -áis (Vosotros/Vosotras)

Stem + -an (Ustedes)

Here are some example sentences:

  • (Usted, formal singular you) No corra por la calle.

Don't run on the street.

  • (Usted, formal singular you) No discuta con el cliente.

Don't argue with the customer.

  • (Vosotros/vosotras, informal plural you) No cenéis en la habitación.

Don't have dinner in the room.

Now that you’ve looked at how to form the negative imperative for regular verbs, let’s look at irregular verbs.

Negative imperative for irregular verbs in Spanish

Just like with regular verbs, irregular verbs follow their own pattern when forming the negative imperative.

Essentially, if an irregular verb has a vowel or consonant change in the present simple tense form, the same vowel or consonant change will apply in the negative imperative form.

With that change, we then use the same patterns that we used for the regular verbs to form the negative imperative of irregular verbs.

Here is what that looks like for the irregular verbs salir (to go out) and pedir (to order/ask):

1. Salir

Present Simple tense: Yo salgo (I go out).

Negative Imperative : Don’t go out

No salgas (, informal singular you)

No salga (usted, formal singular you)

No salgáis (vosotros/vosotras, informal plural you)

No salgan (ustedes, formal plural you)

2. Pedir

Present Simple tense: Yo pido (I order/ask).

Negative Imperative: Don’t order/ask.

No pidas. (, informal singular you)

No pida. (Usted, formal singular you)

No pidáis. (Vosotros/Vosotras, informal plural you)

No pidan. (Ustedes, formal plural you)

Let’s have a look at some negative imperative example sentences both for salir and pedir.

No salgáis sin abrigaros. (vosotros/vosotras, informal plural you)

Don't go out without dressing warmly.

No pidas indicaciones a personas desconocidas. (, informal singular you)

Don't ask unknown people for directions.

It’s a good idea to practice a lot with irregular verbs to make sure that their irregular form patterns stick.

Wrapping up: Making commands negative in Spanish

Telling people what to do and what not to do is important in any language.

By learning the negative imperative, you can now give and understand instructions, advice, and orders in Spanish when traveling, learning, teaching, or simply speaking with friends.

Combining your negative imperative skills with other Spanish verb tenses will help you be an all-around better Spanish speaker. Why not start practicing today?

Don’t stop now!

Did you see what we did there? The negative imperative is used in all sorts of situations, so why not keep the momentum going and practice with Busuu’s free online courses!