I was wondering if it is possible to ask someone to do something by simply using infinitive form of verb with direct object/indirect object pronoun attached and without using any other words? Or you always have to use imperative form of verb and conjugate it? I am asking because sometimes I think I can hear this infinitive form in movies (translated from English to Spanish), but I am not sure if I heard correctly. In subtitles at the same time I see always conjugated form of verb. But still, can you say the following for example:

"Matarlo, sin ruido, tengo invitados" (in subtitles, there was "Mátenlo, sin ruido, tengo invitados").

Of course, I am not asking about the following possibility: "Debes matarlo sin ruido."

  • I have wondered about this since reading a comment "Ser la energía que queremos atraer". Google translates that into "Be the energy we want to attract" - which sounds imperative. So I too wonder if you can use the infinitive in an imperative way for generic, slogan like statements?
    – Galik
    Sep 30, 2020 at 17:52
  • @Galik To me it doesn't sound imperative, at least not so strong one. As for answering your question, here is a very good link that I went through hispanoteca.eu/Gram%C3%A1ticas/Gram%C3%A1tica%20espa%C3%B1ola/…. In short, it IS possible. Examples: "Sin insultar!" (don't insult me, it's use is more in Spain.)
    – Alex
    Oct 1, 2020 at 18:11
  • @Galik Also from this link there are many more examples, many of them are mostly used in coloquial speech. Even though I admit that this link describes many uses, not only slogan like statements that you asked about.
    – Alex
    Oct 1, 2020 at 18:15

2 Answers 2


In some contexts, a dry infinitive could indeed function as an order. That would be a bit unusual. It would be a sentence fragment, which in a certain context, could be completing a thought to a certain person who would understand what you're getting at.

There might have been a one-syllable word at the beginning that you didn't catch. It might have been

A matarlo etc.

That is another way of telling someone what to do. For example, "¡A callar, he dicho!", "A parir Madres Latinas, A parir más guerrilleros, etc." (see https://www.albumcancionyletra.com/himno-a-las-madres-latinoamericanas_de_jose-de-molina___122510.aspx).

  • To the downvoter: I would be glad of the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. Would you care to leave some feedback to help me understand the downvote? Dec 19, 2019 at 18:20
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    Something I have often wondered. On a browser, say, if you click on the menu, it might say "cerrar pestaña". In English I would understand the equivalent as a command, i.e. "Close the tab, browser!" But in Spanish, does it sound that way, or more like "tab closure" or "tab closing" or something else?
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 20, 2019 at 1:23

You may have heard wrong. What you might have heard is "Matadlo, sin ruido, tengo invitados" This is equivalent to "Mátenlo, sin ruido, tengo invitados". "Matadlo" is how you conjugate the verb with the plural pronoun "Vosotros". "Matarlo" does not make sense in this context.

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