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 mood is a verb form used to give commands, make requests, or express a sense of urgency or obligation. It is used to convey a direct and forceful message to the listener or reader, and is often used to tell someone what to do or how to do something with a sense of authority or urgency.

Imperatives: Structure

To use the imperative form, the sentence must begin with the base form of the verb, which is the imperative verb. In this structure, the subject is generally not explicitly stated and is implied to be 'you'. For example:

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

Imperatives: Negation

To create a negative imperative sentence, you can add the phrase 'do not' or 'don't' before the imperative verb. This structure is used to express a prohibition or instruct someone not to do something.

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 or suggestion
  • to give warnings
  • to make a request
  • to make an invitation

To Give Orders

The imperative form is used to give orders or commands, and is often used to tell someone what to do or what not to do. For example:

Make your bed!

Don't slouch!

To Give Directions

The imperative form is often used to give directions or instructions when guiding someone to a particular place or location. For example:

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

Here, the speaker is helping, not giving orders.

To Give Instructions

The imperative form is often used to give detailed instructions on how to do something or how to operate something, such as a cooking recipe or electronic device manual. Look at the example:

Add 3 cups of flour to the mix.

Adjust the settings to your preference.

To Give Advice and Suggestion

The imperative form can be used to offer advice or suggestion on what someone should or should not do in a particular situation.

Don't wear that dress.

Consider your options carefully before making a decision.

a sentence in the imperative mood

To Give Warnings

The imperative form can be used to warn someone about potential negative consequences in the future and encourage them to take action to avoid them. For example:

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

Take shelter, a storm is coming.

To Make a Request

A request is a formal and polite way of asking for something. It is different from an 'order' or 'command' in that it includes the terms like 'please' or 'and 'if you don't mind'. When you use 'please' in an imperative sentence, it adds politeness and formality to the request. For example:

Pass the salt, please.

Open the window, if you don't mind.

To Make an Invitation

In a very informal or friendly context, the imperative form can be used to make an invitation for someone to do something. For example:

Come to the party at 7:00.

Join us for a drink after work.

Imperatives with Do

In some cases, adding the auxiliary 'do' at the beginning of the imperative sentence, can make it more formal and polite or add emphasis.

How intriguing! Do tell!

Imperatives with Subject Pronouns

We can add a subject pronoun, such as 'you', to emphasize the imperative sentence. However, it is important to be mindful of tone and avoid sounding rude. This structure is typically used for giving strong and decisive orders. Pay attention to the examples:

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 need to address a group of people. In that case, we use imperatives with indefinite pronouns like 'somebody', 'everybody', and 'all'. In these cases, the verb does not take the 's' form for the 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 refer to the act of strongly persuading someone to do something. The exhortative imperative is a type of formal imperative that implies the subject of the sentence is the first person plural. Its structure is 'Let's (or Let us) + the base form of the verb'. By using the exhortative imperative, the speaker can encourage collective action and motivate others to work towards a common goal. For example:

Let us review these points in more details.

The speaker is trying to encourage the audience to review the points.

To create a negative exhortative imperative, you can simply place the word 'not' between 'let' and the verb.

Let's not tell her what we did.

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

Tip

When the subject following the verb 'let' is anything other than 'us', the structure is no longer the exhortative imperative and instead means 'to allow'. This structure is often used for offering assistance or give permission to someone.

Let me help you with that.

Let her go to the party.

Review

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.'

Uses

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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