Chile, that’s not the imperative.

Remember all those years you struggled to memorize the irregular imperative verbs?  You know, verbs like hacer, which doesn’t become hace but rather haz.  Or ir, which turns into ve?

Sorry, but you’re in Chile now.  And you’ll have to relearn all of that.

Sneaky shadow vowels?

At first, I thought I was just hearing shadow vowels or some form of over-articulation.  Chileans seemed to be adding an ‘e’ at the end of certain commands.

But after enough observation and internet interactions, I learned that Chileans actually use a different form of the imperative for several verbs, namely, hacerponer, and salir.  

And by different, I mean they do exactly what you took years trying to undo: they go to the third person singular.

ponele likePone:

We all know poner should become pon in the imperative.  But in Chile, it is normal to hear something like, “Pónele un poquito más de sal.” (Put some more salt on it.)


¡Pónele weno!  (Which is like ¡Hazlo con ganas!  Or, “Do it like you mean it!”)


Imperative: you're doing it wrongHacer usually is haz as a command.  (So many years of practice down the drain.)  I think I’ll skip the explanation and go to the memes, because there’s basically nothing to say except Y U NO IMPERATIVE???


Refer to the following meme.  I know this isn’t a good application of the meme, but it illustrates three interesting uses of Chilean imperative.

First, the author used sale instead of sal

Second, you’ll notice that the above image uses anda to say “go” in the imperative, as opposed to using ve or vete.  This is very typical in Chilean Spanish, and ve is basically only used as the imperative of ver.

BONUS!  Sálete??  Why “te”?  This is not a reflexive verb here, right?  What is that reflexive pronoun doing in there?  

In Chile, I’ve noted that people often tag on a ‘te’ when making commands to add emphasis.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, Chileans!)  For example, if you want your child to sit down and eat his food, you might exclaim, “¡Cómetelo!” (Eat it!)

The English equivalent might be the “Do” in a command like, “Do stay for dinner!”

In summary…

Listen to the puppy:


2 thoughts on “Chile, that’s not the imperative.

  1. Oh my goodness thanks so much for explaining this to me. :) I was thinking I missed the grammar class where these options for conjugating were explained. So “anda” is an adaptation of ¨ Ándele ¨ or ´´come on´´, I´m assuming. This is very helpful. Trying to remember conjugations in general has been my biggest challenge as a newbie here to Chile.

    • I’m glad that it was helpful :) Yes, “anda” is the imperative of “andar”–which I originally learned as “walk”… but it turns out “andar” is used in many different ways around the world!
      Saludos ~~

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