Definition: Imperatives are verbs used to give orders, commands,warning or instructions, and (if you use "please") to make a request. It is one of the three moods of an English verb (indicative, imperative and subjunctive).

For example:

  • Give me that tape, please.

To make the imperative, use the infinitive of the verb without "to"

For example:

  • Come here!
  • Sit down!

To make a negative imperative, put "do not" or "don't" before the verb:

For example:

  • Don't go!
  • Do not walk on the grass.

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".

For example:

  • Let's stop now.
  • Let's have some lunch.
  • Let's not argue
  • Let's not tell her about it.

Adults do not usually give each other orders, unless they are in a position of authority. However, adults can give orders to children and to animals. The intonation of an order is important: each word is stressed, and the tone falls at the end of the sentence:

For example:
  • Sit down now!
    * "Sit", "down" and "now" are all stressed, and the tone falls on "now".

You can use the imperative to warn someone of danger. All the words in the warning are stressed, but the last word has a higher tone than the first word:

For example:
  • Sit down now!
    * "Sit", "down" and "now" are all stressed, and the tone falls on "now".
  • Watch out!
  • Look out!
  • Don't cross!

When you give advice using the imperative, the words are stressed normally.

For example:
  • Don't tell him you're resigning now! Wait until Monday when he's in a better mood.
  • Don't drink alcohol
  • Don't eat heavy meals

You can also use the imperative to make a request, but you should use a polite word before the verb:

For example:
  • Please take a seat.
  • Please wait here.
  • Please hold the line.
  • Please don't smoke here.

Note that an imperative sentence does not require a subject; the pronoun "you" is implied.


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