Imperative Mood in English Grammar

Imperative Mood in English Grammar

If you're wondering what the word 'imperative' means, in grammar, imperatives are verbs that are used to tell somebody what to do or guiding someone.

Imperative Mood in English Grammar

Imperative Mood

The imperative is a verbal mood in the English grammar. It is the most direct way one can give orders or make somebody do or not to 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 (I, you, we, they ...)

Subject in Imperative Mood

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

Go to the supermarket and buy some eggs .

The command is given to YOU.

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
  • Give directions
  • Give instructions
  • Give advice
  • Give suggestions
  • Give warnings
  • Make requests
  • Invite somebody

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 !

Give Directions

When we want to give an address and directions to a particular place, we use the imperatives.
Here, it's OK if you don't use the word 'please' with your sentences. Because it is expected to sound like it.

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

The speaker is helping not giving orders.

Give Instructions

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

Add 3 cups of flour to the mix .

This is give structures about making a cake.

Give Advice and Suggestions

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

Don't wear that dress .

This is just a suggestion.

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 .

Make Requests

A request is the action of asking for something formally and politely. It's 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 .

Invite Somebody

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

Come to the party at 7 : 00 .

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, the auxiliary If we add 'Do' at the beginning of the imperative sentence, we can make the sentence more formal and polite.

That's intriguing ! Do tell !

It is a polite imperative sentence.

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 .

Try not to sound rude.

Don't you talk back to me !

It's an example of a negative imperative sentence with subject pronoun 'you'.

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 .

The same rule is applied here.

All hail the Queen .

The same rule is applied here.

Imperatives: Exhortative

Exhortative means trying very hard to persuade somebody to do something. Exhortative imperative is a kind of formal imperative that only implies that the subject of our sentence is the first person plural. It's 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.

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 'used for offering help to somebody'.

Let me help you with that .

This is actually used to offer help to somebody.

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