5

Pronouns are attached to the end of the conjugated verb in affirmative imperative:

Vete (you leave)
Vayámonos (Let's leave)

But in negative imperative:

No os vayais (you don't leave)
No lo toques (you don't touch it)

Why isn't negative imperative no vayaisos or no toqueslo? That looks quite different from affirmative imperative.

  • 1
    I never heard "vayamonos," only "vámonos." Does "vayamonos" need an accent? – aparente001 Feb 25 '18 at 13:28
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    @aparente001 Yeah. Vayámonos is correct, if less used than vámanos (vamos is an irregular command form of vayamos — the only irregular nosotros command I know of) – user0721090601 Feb 25 '18 at 15:26
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    @aparente001 Vayámonos looks right (with an accent). – iBug Feb 25 '18 at 15:46
  • I certainly don't know and didn't notice until now, but you are correct, we usually don't place the direct object next to the verb in the negative imperative. but I think its possible that it was used in the past – Mike Feb 27 '18 at 19:20
3

In older forms of Iberian languages, the norm was to employ enclitic pronouns with all verb forms, but with an exception: certain classes of words would draw the pronoun(s) to the front causing proclisis (these are called attractors, to borrow the Portuguese terminology)

While the classes varied from language to language, one universal was negative adverbs. Thus you'd have compráronnoslos but no nos lo compraron. Eventually in Spanish, for whatever reason, the proclitic position became the default. Commands, for some reason, were the exception, still using enclisis (hence vete or envíenmelo)... except in the negative which obliged proclisis.

As a result, the commands in Spanish (and, afaik, all the Iberian languages regardless the default position elsewhere) use enclitic pronouns for affirmative commands, and proclitic pronouns for negative ones.

  • Do you mean negative verbs (second paragraph)? – aparente001 Feb 25 '18 at 13:26
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    Actually, I should probably have just said negative words, because nadie (also an attractor) caused the same effect. – user0721090601 Feb 25 '18 at 15:25
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    @guifa For learners of Spanish to understand the rule, we should perhaps add that the subjunctive is used for negative imperative. – Gustavson Feb 25 '18 at 15:29
  • @guifa - Please do edit that little bit because "negative adverbs" looks weird. I would make the edit myself only I'm not sure exactly how you want it to read. – aparente001 Feb 26 '18 at 5:46
  • I tend to believe "proclitic" is the default/original as it was in Latin, and that negative imperative uses exactly the present subjunctive conjugation (thus it makes no difference). I'm still trying to understand how affirmative imperative employed enclitic pronouns because Italian has the same pronoun placement here. – iBug Sep 2 '18 at 23:33

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