- Parent Category: Lower-Intermediate Skill Builders
- Category: Lower-Intermediate Skill Builders: Grammar
- Written by Chris Cotter
What are imperatives?
Imperatives are used to directly tell someone to do something, sometimes quite strongly. For example, the speaker says to the listener:
mom to daughter: Eat vegetables to stay healthy!
teacher to student: Study English harder if you want to study overseas.
husband to wife: Get the car washed this weekend.
boss to employee: Finish the report before you leave for the day.
What is the sentence structure?
The sentence structure of imperatives is relatively easy. Take a look at the following:
verb (plain form) | object / complement
Notice that the structure simply drops the subject of the sentence.
(not okay) You eat vegetables to stay healthy.
(okay) Eat vegetables to stay healthy.
(not okay) You study English harder if you want to study overseas.
(okay) Study English harder if you want to study overseas.
(not okay) You go to bed!
(okay) Go to bed!
(not okay) You don't watch too much TV.
(okay) Don't watch too much TV.
Negative imperatives add do + not before the plain form of the verb.
do + not | verb (plain form) | object / complement
Do not eat too much candy.
Do not drive fast in the snow.
Don't forget your cell phone.
Don't go to bed late!
How are imperatives used?
The imperative mood is used in the following situations:
Log into the computer network.
Check your dictionaries.
Do your homework!
Eat all of your vegetables!
giving advice or suggestions:
Quit your job if you really hate it.
Study English every day if you want to be fluent.
Have some more coffee.
Take my jacket if you're cold.
It's important to note that imperatives can often feel quite strong, even when meant as advice. As a result, the speaker may add please or should to the sentence. For example:
You should do your homework if you want to pass the course.
Please do your homework if your want to pass the course.
Do your homework if you want to pass the course!
All three sentences offer advice. The first sentence is the weakest. The second sentence is a little forceful, but the listener may still ignore the speaker. However, the listener should definitely follow the speaker's advice in the third sentence.
Is there additional information on imperatives?
Yes. Both always and never may be added to imperatives to state always-true situations. These adverbs of frequency must come before the verb.
Always wear your seatbelt.
Never drink alcohol before you drive.