Basic Spanish Classroom Commands and Instructions

Understanding commands and instructions is really important when learning a language. In this lesson, we will learn some common verbs and the way they can be used to make Spanish classroom commands and to give instructions. You will listen to them thanks to the recordings in the lesson and practice with quizzes. Let’s begin… 

Introductory video: Basic Spanish verbs for the classroom

We will begin this lesson with a short video showing 10 basic verbs that are often used in the classroom in Spanish commands and instructions – Mandatos/Instrucciones. This video includes pictures representing each verb and a few important notes on how to use them. You can activate the captions in English (cc) below and do not worry if you cannot understand everything, as we will explain more details later.

How to form the Imperative in Spanish – El imperativo

As shown in the video, verbs like HABLAR, ESCRIBIR, LEER and ESCUCHAR are really common when communicating with your teacher or classmates in Spanish. For the classroom, in particular, these verbs will be used in the imperative in Spanish, a tense that is used to give orders or express wishes. The imperative in Spanish will only be used for pronouns in the second person such as TÚ, USTED, VOS, VOSOTROS, USTEDES.

The chart below shows how to form the imperative in Spanish of regular verbs. Notice that each verb in infinitive has a different ending (AR, ER, IR). The chart shows that “Hablar” will change to “Habla” for the pronoun “Tú”, e.g. “habla primero” (You speak first!).

Conjugating verbs in the imperative mood

PronounHABLAR (to talk)ESCRIBIR (to write)LEER (to read)

Basic Spanish classroom Commands and Instructions

Spanish classroom commands and instructions for most activities will usually begin with a verb in imperative. This means that when giving instructions like “Open your book” in Spanish, the teacher will not say “Ustedes abren sus libros” (regular conjugation of ABRIR) but “(Ustedes) abran sus libros”. It is not necessary to add USTEDES before “Abran” and actually we will omit it most of the time.

Teachers will frequently use the imperative in Spanish for the pronoun USTEDES (you) to refer to the whole class. In books, you will probably see the imperative form for the pronoun USTED so instead of “(Ustedes) Completen el ejercicio”, as the teacher would indicate in classyou will find “(Usted) Complete el ejercicio”.

In most cases, Spanish classroom commands and instructions will include these verbs: ABRIR (to open), SELECCIONAR (to choose), ESCUCHAR (to listen), MIRAR (to look), COMPLETAR (to complete), LEER (to read), CORREGIR (to correct), RELLENAR (to fill in), BUSCAR (to look up/to find), HABLAR (to talk), LEER (to read), PLANEAR (to plan), DISCUTIR (to discuss), ESCRIBIR (to write), REPONDER (to answer) and PRACTICAR (to practice).  All these verbs will change their ending according to the chart presented above, except for CORREGIR that will change to “CORRIJA(N)” and PRACTICAR to “PRACTIQUE(N)”.

A list of basic Spanish classroom commands and instructions

Abran sus libros en la página 30
Open your books on page 30
Seleccionen la respuesta correcta para las siguientes preguntas
Choose the right answer for the following questions
Escuche una conversación entre dos personas y luego responda las preguntas sobre ella.
Listen to a conversation between two friends and then answer the questions about it.
Mire las imágenes de la página 35 y escriba un párrafo comparándolas
Look at the pictures on page 35 and write a paragraph comparing them
Complete las siguientes preguntas con la forma correcta de los verbos.
Complete the following sentences with the right form of the verbs
Lean el primer párrafo de la lectura y luego discútanlo con su compañero.
Read the first paragraph of the reading and then discuss it with a partner
Corrija los errores de estas oraciones en español.
Correct the mistakes in these Spanish sentences
Rellene los espacios en blanco con el sustantivo correcto.
Fill in the blanks with the right noun
Busquen un compañero y planeen una conversación simple sobre el tema.
Find a partner and plan a simple conversation about the topic.
Hable sobre sus vacaciones de verano.
Talk about your summer vacations
Lean la historia y escriban un resumen de tres párrafos
Read the story and write a 3 paragraph summary
Tarea: Practique la pronunciación de la letra “r”
Homework: Practice the pronunciation of the letter “r”

Extra notes:

As we explained in the lesson, the imperative in Spanish is the basis for commands and instructions. The imperative for regular verbs is not that difficult to remember with some practice because the pattern is somewhat predictable. However, not all the verbs in the language follow rules. That being said, you will find Spanish irregular verbs in the imperative mood, such as “Vaya” (You go…), “Ven…” (You come…) and “Sea” (Be…). This topic is really interesting so we will continue learning about it in future lessons.

Before you leave, please test yourself and practice the imperative in Spanish classroom commands and instructions with this short quiz. ¡Hasta pronto!

Lesson quiz: The imperative in Spanish for commands

“Felicidades” for finishing the lesson. It is time to test your knowledge on the things we covered about the imperative, “el imperativo”, and basic classroom commands. The quiz is interesting and will let you know the parts you should study more carefully.