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!
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
- Put 125g of flour into a bowl.
- Add three large eggs.
- Pour in 250ml of milk.
- Mix everything together well.
- Heat a large frying pan.
- Melt a little butter in the pan.
- Pour some of the mixture into the pan.
- Cook it for a couple of minutes.
- Turn it over and cook the other side.
- Put it on a plate.
- Eat it with your favourite toppings.
- 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: