The imperative mood in Spanish is a crucial aspect of the language that every Spanish learner needs to master. If you’re planning to visit Argentina, understanding the imperative mood is especially important as it’s widely used in the country’s everyday speech.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what the imperative mood in Spanish means, why it’s not a verb tense, and how Argentinians use it in their language. You will also learn the reason why Argentinians sound so different from other Hispanic speakers (and, yes, the imperative mood has a lot to do with it.)
What Does ‘Imperative Mood in Spanish’ Mean?
The imperative is a grammatical mood. A grammatical mood is a category that reflects the speaker’s attitude toward the action described in a sentence. The mood can indicate whether the action or state is a fact, a command, a wish, a hypothetical situation, or an uncertain possibility, among other things.
Spanish speakers use the imperative mood to give commands or make requests. It’s used to tell someone what to do or what not to do. It can also be used to encourage someone to do something, give a piece of advice, and to be polite and inviting. See some examples:
- Comé una galletita. (Eat a cookie).
- Pasá, sentate. (Come in, sit down).
- Dale un abrazo a tu hermana. (Give your sister a hug).
In English, the imperative mood is formed by using the base form of the verb, but in Spanish, it’s formed differently depending on the subject of the sentence. For example, “comé” (eat) is the imperative form of the verb “comer” (to eat) in Spanish when you’re addressing someone informally.
Why The Imperative Mood in Spanish Is Not a Verb Tense
Unlike verb tenses in Spanish, a mood doesn’t refer to a specific time or aspect of an action. Instead, the imperative mood is used to express a direct command or request in the present or future. This means that you can use the imperative mood to ask someone to do something now or in the future, but you can’t use it to talk about actions that have already happened.
Imperative Mood in Spanish Quiz
Do you think you have a good grasp of the imperative mood in Spanish? Test your knowledge with our quiz! Identify the imperative form of the verb in each sentence and check your answers at the end of the quiz.
- ¡Comé tu comida! (Eat your food!)
- No hables tan fuerte. (Don’t speak so loud.)
- Hacé tu tarea. (Do your homework.)
- Limpiá tu cuarto. (Clean your room.)
- Vení acá. (Come here.)
The verbs in the imperative mood are comé (comer), hables (hablar), hacé (hacer), limpiá (limpiar), and vení (venir). In the indicative mood, these verbs are (vos) comés, hablás, hacés, limpiás, venís.
How Argentinians Use the Imperative Mood in Spanish
In Argentina, the imperative mood is used frequently in everyday speech. It’s often used to give directions, make requests, or express urgency. However, Argentinians also use the imperative mood to be polite.
For example, instead of saying “tome asiento, por favor” (please, take a seat), an Argentinian might say “sentate” (sit down). This “polite” use of the imperative mood in Spanish might actually sound a bit rude, but it is a common feature of Argentine Spanish.
Another important fact about how Argentinians use the imperative mood is that we use the pronoun ‘vos’ instead of ‘tú.’ Therefore, instead of saying “Haz la tarea” (tú), Argentinians say “Hacé la tarea,” stressing the last syllable of the verb ‘hacer.’
See some irregular verbs in the imperative mood for ‘tú’ and ‘vos.’
As you can see, the ways in which the verbs are formed and pronounced change significantly. Using the imperative mood for the pronoun ‘vos’ is mainly what makes Argentinians sound so different from other Hispanic speakers (along with the pronunciations of ‘ll’ and ‘y’).
Take for example the most famous quote from the 2022 Soccer World Cup in Qatar by Lionel Messi. He was surprisingly upset and says to someone “andá para allá,” which means “go away.” The verb “andar” is in imperative mood for the pronoun ‘vos’: andá. Had you noticed?
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Mastering the imperative mood in Spanish is essential for any Spanish learner, but it’s particularly important for those who plan to travel or interact with Argentinians.
Understanding how the imperative mood is used in Argentina will not only help you communicate more effectively, but it will also give you insight into the country’s unique culture and language. So, keep practicing, take our quiz, and don’t be afraid to use commands to show politeness!
Want to learn more about this topic?
Take a look at this resource I created to help you master commands in Spanish. Click on the image and download the preview at ZERO COST to check it out.
Additionally, understanding the use of “vos” and the imperative mood is crucial if you are visiting Argentina and engaging in conversation with locals. To learn how to use vos like a native, check out my app “VOS SOS” available on Google Play. This is the URL to get the app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cta.vossos
Easy Argentine Spanish’s app VOS SOS will help you:
- Learn to speak with vos like a native Argentinian.
- Understand the differences between “vos” and “tú.”
- Broaden your vocabulary.