Expressing commands in Spanish can make you feel like a merciful King or a cruel tyrant. Our language has so many options at your disposal that it is sometimes difficult to know which form is the most accurate for each situation.

Obviously, you can think we’re talking about the imperative tense, today. Nothing further from the truth. If you need to study or revise the imperative forms, you can take a look at our free grammar resources. Actually, we’re going to learn other structures for expressing commands in Spanish.

Expressing commands in Spanish: the present tense

The present tense is often used to express instructions, more than commands in colloquial situations. Imagine a teacher explaining their pupils what they have to do today.

A ver, chicos, primero hacéis los ejercicios de matemáticas; después, leéis la segunda lección de historia y finalmente entregáis los mapas de geografía.


The infinitive to give orders

Expressing commands in Spanish is possible using the preposition “a” and an infinitive form. It’s more used in informal registers to express urgency. We can even show anger if our orders were not followed previously. In this case, we usually close our sentence with expressions like “he dicho”, “y punto” or “y a callar”.

La cena está preparada; os lo he dicho tres veces; venga, ¡a cenar, he dicho!

Expressing commands in Spanish using beggings

Colloquial contexts are not only the important ones when we speak Spanish. For example, in the DELE exams might be situations when we would need to use a polite language. So, what about expressing commands in Spanish in a formal situation? We can use the verb rogar (to beg) for this purpose in two different ways: with a personal and an impersonal form of the verb.

Se ruega a los señores clientes que no fumen en el establecimiento.

Rogamos que guarden silencio en el interior del templo.

Informal commands with the word “que”

As we saw before, we can give orders when we are angry or in a hurry. Besides the infinitive, we can use the conjunction “que” and the subjunctive to express those commands with the sense of urgency. We can also use those phrases we learnt before to emphasize our mood.

¡Que reserves clases en te he dicho!

Using verbal periphrases to give orders

Expressing commands in Spanish using verbal periphrases is one of the commonest ways of giving orders. If you don’t know what a periphrases is, you can read this article, first. In summary, they are groups of words in which we use more than one verb (puedo comer, hay que estudiar, voy a cenar…). Using tener que + infinitive and deber + infinitive, you can give an advise, close to an order, that is based on a legal or moral precept, and in order to express benefits for the other person.

Para mejorar tu español tienes que practicar haciendo clases de conversación; pero debes practicar tu escritura, también.

These are only five alternatives for the imperative tense. However, for expressing commands in Spanish you have even more options. If you want to learn more, don’t hesitate and reserve lessons at Nevertheless, if you want to try a trial lesson, first, just start speaking Spanish right now!