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As there is no singular first person imperative form for Spanish verbs (as far as I know), I was wondering whether there is an equivalent to the, possibly idiomatic, English expression of a person giving themselves a command.

E.g. Someone trying to answer a question and saying to themselves 'Think!'

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This is nothing about "tenses", a term which means "time" such as past / present / future. Retagging. –  hippietrail Nov 29 '11 at 2:40
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@hippietrail: Imperative is usually considered a verb tense, even if it doesn't relate (directly) to "time." –  Flimzy Nov 29 '11 at 4:40
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@Flimzy: No, imperative is considered a verb mood. I know in English many people mix them up these days, they didn't always do so and I don't know if Spanish speakers do. A site at the expert level on language / linguistic themes, which will receive many questions about correctness should endeavour to be as clear and accurate as possible. Sorry if it sounds like nagging or nitpicking, hopefully it's constructive and educational advice toward a better site where we can nip things in the bud. –  hippietrail Nov 29 '11 at 7:30
    
Notice I didn't say it was correct to consider it a verb tense; only that it usually is. :) Your point is well taken. –  Flimzy Nov 29 '11 at 7:34
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In Spanish you use the singular second person to refer to yourself in the imperative way. for Think! you will say ¡Piensa! (or ¡Pensá! in some regions of South America).

You cannot say that for the first person, so you always refer to you in the second person for the imperative (I think in English is the same).

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ha! yes I meant second person, just corrected it –  rodrigoq Nov 29 '11 at 5:21
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All Spanish imperatives follow the subjunctive, with the sole exception of the present tense second person singular familiar (tú) positive form (and the vosotros form, in places that use it).

The first person singular form is usually considered absent for imperatives, but you can use the second person familiar or the third person subjunctive which is conveniently the same as the first person subjunctive. The first person plural imperative follows the subjunctive rule regularly (it's the form that uses the "let" form in English).

If you're really giving yourself a command or suggestion, you might also consider using the first person plural. Sometimes it sounds less crazy.

So for pensar (think):

  • Self, think. --> piense or piensa
  • You, think. --> piensa
  • You (formal), think. --> piense
  • Let us think. (or: Let's think.) --> pensemos
  • You (plural), think. --> piensen

Indirect speech imperatives follow the subjunctive sequence of tenses.

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