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The Command Form or Imperative in Portuguese and a Quiz

The command form is used to make requests: cheguem às 7:00, arrive at 7:00; ask for favors, abra a janela, por favor, open the window, please; offer cautionary advice, não abra a porta, don’t open the door; make suggestions, tenhamos paciência, let’s be patient; and yes, give orders, limpe o seu quarto, clean your room.

To form the imperative, take the first person singular of the present tense and replace the final –o then add –e, -emos, -em for verbs ending in –ar and –a, -amos, -am for verbs ending in –er and –ir.  To form the negative just add não, no, to the beginning of the sentence. Não fume. Don’t smoke.

Look at the following examples:

Falar (to speak, to say)

Ist person sing. present tense = eu falo; Imperative= fale, falemos, falem 

Comer (to eat)

Ist person sing. present tense = eu como; Imperative= coma, comamos, comam 

Partir (to leave)

Ist person sing. present tense = eu parto; Imperative=parta, partamos, partam

There are three things to bear in mind when using the imperative tense:

1- Don’t use pronouns. So when you want to make a request, just say: traga a conta, por favor, bring the check, please

2- The imperative in Portuguese has singular and plural forms. So if you’re asking just one person for a favor, you say: passe o açucar, por favor, pass the sugar, please. If instead, you are talking to more than one person, say: Voltem logo! Come back soon (you all). You can also include yourself, for example: prestemos mais atenção, let’s pay more attention. Using the imperative with the first person plural is the more formal equivalent of making a suggestion using vamos, let’s: façamos os exercícios (formal), vamos fazer os exercícios (informal), let’s do the exercises.

3- Always use por favor, please, with the imperative to soften the commands and requests. Telefone mais tarde, por favor. Call later, please.

Now, to practice this verb tense, change the following sentences into commands, requests, etc, using the imperative. The answers are at the end.

1. Você escolhe o filme. (You choose the movie.)

2. Vocês esperam o professor. (You wait for the teacher.)

3. Nós esperamos o sinal. (Let’s wait for the light.)

4. Nós esperamos a nossa vez. (Let’s wait our turn.)

5. Você volta cedo. (You return home early.)

Answers: 1. Escolha o filme; 2. Esperem o professor; 3.Esperemos o sinal; 4.Esperemos a nossa vez; 5. Volte cedo.

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