The Imperative

The imperative is a verb form used to make requests, give instructions, orders, warnings or commands.

We use imperative to ask or tell people to do things:

  • Open your books to page 24, please.
  • Look at the picture.
  • Read the questions and write your answers.

To make the imperative, we use the infinitive of the verb without ‘to’. An imperative sentence usually does not require a subject; the pronoun ‘you’ is implied.

  • Sit down!
  • Marry me!

Negative Imperative

We use ‘don’t’ (do not) for negative imperatives:

  • Don’t write in pencil. Use a pen.
  • Don’t use your dictionary too often.
  • Please don’t forget to do your homework!


We can use the imperative to give advice:

  • Don’t drink so much. You have to drive tomorrow morning.
  • Don’t put on that hat. It looks awful.
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Do some exercise every day.


We often use ‘please’ to make imperatives less direct and more polite. ‘Please’ can come at the beginning or the end of the sentence.

  • Please shut up!
  • Don’t smoke here, please.


You can use the imperative to warn someone of danger:

  • Watch out for that tree!
  • Get out of the house! It’s burning!

Wishes and Support

Other common uses of imperatives:

  • Have a good day / weekend / holiday.
  • Enjoy your meal.
  • Don’t work too hard.
  • Don’t worry!

Recipes or Manuals

Making Pancakes

  1. Put 125g of flour into a bowl.
  2. Add three large eggs.
  3. Pour in 250ml of milk.
  4. Mix everything together well.
  5. Heat a large frying pan.
  6. Melt a little butter in the pan.
  7. Pour some of the mixture into the pan.
  8. Cook it for a couple of minutes.
  9. Turn it over and cook the other side.
  10. Put it on a plate.
  11. Eat it with your favourite toppings.
  12. Don’t eat too many!


You can also use ‘let’s’ before the verb if you are including yourself in the imperative. The negative of ‘let’s’ is ‘let’s not’.

  • Let’s play!
  • Let’s have something to eat.
  • Let’s not argue.
  • Let’s not tell them about it.

Watch the video about the imperative:

See also:

Verbs: Overview

Verbs: The Infinitive

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