Imperative Mood

If you're wondering what the word 'imperative' means, in grammar, imperatives are verbs that are used to tell somebody what to do or not to do.

"Imperative Mood" in English Grammar

What Is Imperative Mood?

The imperative is a verbal mood in English grammar. It is the most direct way one can give orders or make somebody do or not do something.

Imperatives: Structure

When you want to use an imperative, you use the imperative verb, which is the base form of the verb, at the beginning of the sentence.
Your sentence will not have a subject or to be more precise, the subject is hidden and implied.


The subject in imperative sentences is always implied to be talking about 'you.'

(You) Go to the supermarket and (you) buy some eggs.

Imperatives: Negation

To make a negative imperative sentence, you only need to add 'Do not' or 'Don't' before the imperative verb.

Do not smoke in here.

Don't stand under this building.

Imperatives: Uses

Imperatives can be used:

  • to give orders
  • to give directions
  • to give instructions
  • to give advice
  • to give suggestions
  • to give warnings
  • to give requests
  • to invite somebody

To Give Orders

We use imperatives to give orders or commands. When we want to tell someone what to do or what not to do, we use imperatives.

Make your bed!

Don't slouch!


When we use the emphatic do auxiliary, it makes an imperative sound more polite and more formal:

Do start. (formal)

Do sit down and make yourself comfortable. (formal)

To Give Directions

When we want to give an address and directions to a particular place, we use the imperatives.
Here, it is OK if you do not use the word 'please' in your sentences.

Go straight for 2 miles. Turn right on Fifth Street. Take a right turn on Elm Street...

Here, the speaker is helping not giving orders.

To Give Instructions

If we want to give detailed instructions on how to do or use something, we can use the imperatives. For example in cooking recipes or an electronic device manual. Look at the example:

Add 3 cups of flour to the mix.

To Give Advice and Suggestions

If you want to give an opinion or suggestion about what somebody should do in a particular situation, you can use the imperatives.

Don't wear that dress.

a sentence in the imperative mood

To Give Warnings

If you want to tell somebody that something bad or unpleasant may happen in the future so that they can try to avoid it, you can use the imperatives.

Don't push his buttons. He'll get real angry!

To Make Requests

A request is the action of asking for something formally and politely. Its difference with 'order' or 'command' lies in the word 'please.' When you use 'please' in your imperative sentence, it makes your sentence more polite or more formal.

Please turn to page 56 of your text book.

To Invite Somebody

In a very informal or friendly situation, you can use the imperatives to invite somebody to do something.

Come to the party at 7:00.

To Give Orders Politely

Because imperatives are a very direct way to give orders, we can use other expressions such as 'just,' 'please,' and 'if you don't mind' in order to make it more polite.

Just stop here for a while, please.

Open the window, if you don't mind.

Imperatives with Do

In some cases, if we add the auxiliary 'do' at the beginning of the imperative sentence, we can make the sentence more formal and polite.

How intriguing! Do tell!

Imperatives with Subject Pronouns

We can add a subject pronoun, especially subject pronoun 'you' to put emphasis on our imperative sentence. Try not to sound rude. This imperative sentence structure is only used for a strong and decisive order.

You shut up! I don't want to hear another word from you.

Don't you talk back to me!

Imperatives with Indefinite Pronouns

In some situations, we must speak to a group of people. In that case, we use imperatives with indefinite pronouns like somebody, everybody, and all. In this case, the verb does not take the 's' for third person singular.

Somebody call the cops. Now!

Because it's an imperative sentence, we did not say 'calls'.

Everybody stand up.

All hail the Queen.

Imperatives: Exhortative

Exhortatives means trying very hard to persuade somebody to do something. The exhortative imperative is a kind of formal imperative that only implies that the subject of our sentence is the first person plural. Its structure is 'Let's (or Let us) + the base form of the verb.'

Let us review these points in more details.

The speaker is trying to encourage us to review the points, here.

To make the exhortative imperative negative, you only need to put 'not' between 'let' and the verb.

Let's not tell her what we did.

'Let's' is the contracted form of 'Let us'.


When the subject following the verb 'let' is anything other than 'us,' it is no longer the exhortative imperative and it means 'to allow' and is used for offering help to somebody.

Let me help you with that.


The imperative is a verbal mood in English grammar. It is the most direct way one can give orders or make somebody do or not to do something.

Imperative Structure

The imperative is actually the base form of the verb at the beginning of the sentence.

Remember we do not mention the subject because it is always the pronoun 'you.'


To give orders Make your bed!
To give directions Turn right on Fifth Street.
To give Instructions Add 3 cups of flour to the mix.
To give Advice and Suggestions Don't wear that dress.
To give Warnings Don't push his buttons. He'll get really angry.
To make Requests Please turn to page 56 of your text book.
To invite Somebody Come to the party at 7: 00.


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