Negative Commands

You can probably think of lots of things to tell people not to do as they plan a trip too. You do this in English by simply putting the word “don't” in front of the command. The negative usted and ustedes commands in Spanish are just as easy. Just put no in front of the verb, for example, No entregue el coche tarde o tendrá que pagar un día más (Don't return the car late or you'll have to pay for another day). In the case of reflexive verbs, put the reflexive pronoun in between no and the command: No se olviden de hacer las reservaciones (Don't forget to make the reservations).

Pronouns are attached to the affirmative commands in Spanish, but they are placed between no and the verb for negative commands: Levántense a tiempo; no se levanten tarde o perderán el tren.

Things are a little more complicated for negative and vosotros commands because the negative command takes a different verb form altogether.

Negative commands look just like affirmative usted commands but they end in -s. For example, ¡No te quedes en hoteles caros! (Don't stay in expensive hotels!). As you remember, the usted command is formed by removing the final -o of the yo form of the simple present tense and adding

-e or -a. The negative commands end in -es or -as. Let's take a moment to summarize:

Negative Tu, Usted and Ustedes Commands of Regular Verbs

Subject Pronoun

Visitar

Ver

Subir

No visites.

No veas.

No subas.

usted

No visite.

No vea.

No suba.

ustedes

No visiten.

No vean.

No suban.

The negative command for the irregular verbs ir, ser, and saber also looks just like the usted command with an -s:

No vayas al bosque solo. (Don't go to the forest alone.)

No seas tímido. (Don't be shy.)

No sepas nada.* (Don't know anything.)

*It's very unusual to tell someone not to know something, so it is unlikely you will use this command often.

The usted command form is also the basis for the negative command for the verbs that are irregular in the affirmative. Just add -s to the end. These verbs are only irregular in the affirmative command. Let's review:

  • poner: no ponga (usted); no pongas (tú)

  • salir: no salga (usted); no salgas (tú)

  • tener: no tenga (usted); no tengas (tú)

  • venir: no venga (usted); no vengas (tú)

  • hacer: no haga (usted); no hagas (tú)

  • decir: no diga (usted); no digas (tú)

  • Likewise, the verbs that have slight spelling changes in the usted and ustedes commands have the same spelling changes in the negative command form:

    No saques tu dinero en el autobús.

    (Don't take out your money on the bus.)

    No pagues antes de ver el horario.

    (Don't pay before seeing the schedule.)

    No comiences a preparar las maletas hasta hacer la reservación.

    (Don't start packing your suitcases until you make the reservation.)

    No recojas la maleta de otra persona por descuido.

    (Don't pick up someone else's suitcase by mistake.)

    And vosotros? Well, no perdáis la paciencia, the negative vosotros commands have a few more steps! Start with the yo form of the simple present just like you did for the usted and ustedes commands. Drop the final -o. Then add -éis or -áis.

    No visitéis todos los museos.

    (Don't visit all the museums.)

    No veáis todas las iglesias.

    (Don't see all the churches.)

    No subáis a las montañas.

    (Don't go up the mountains.)

    No vayáis al aeropuerto en metro.

    (Don't go to the airport by metro.)

    Negative Commands

    TRACK 52

    Listen to each statement or question on Track 52 and respond with an appropriate negative command. (The text is not shown here because this is meant to be a more challenging exercise.) If you'd like extra practice, make alternate suggestions using affirmative commands. For example, you may hear something like this: Voy a hacer una reservación para mañana. And you may answer with something like this: No hagas una reservación para mañana. Haz una reservación para el viernes. You can find the questions and sample answers written out in Appendix D.

    1. Home
    2. Intermediate Spanish
    3. Conditional and Commands
    4. Negative Commands
    Visit other About.com sites: