Grammar: Imperative

Posted July 9, 2019 by kddidit in Author Resources, Grammar Explanations, Self-Editing, Writing

Thank heaven for the imperative, as I just love ordering people around. Okay, okay, it’s not just for ordering someone to do something. Actually, I think you’ll be surprised at the various ways the imperative is used!

We use it every day in conversation with a specific person; to give instructions and/or commands in manuals and road signs; to encourage purchases in advertisements; to express displeasure; or, to express a liking, fondness, or love.

The imperative is more intentional than an exclamation, as it is specific whereas an exclamation is a general expression.

So you can imagine how useful an imperative is in your own manuscript!

Grammar Explanations is…

…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone on an area of grammar with which you struggle or on which you can contribute more understanding.

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Part of Speech: A grammatical mood
Definition: A sentence that gives an order or command. It may have a polite tone, or it may sound like someone is bossing someone around.

Does not leave room for questions or discussion.

NOTE: The pronoun you is implied as an imperative sentence does not require a subject.


Rule: Uses the root form of the verb to create the imperative.
Come here!


Leave that alone!

Get out of here!


Take the garbage out.

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Subject Pronoun
Rule: A pronoun may be used to emphasize the subject of the sentence.
“May I leave the room?” “No, you may not.”

Ending Punctuation
Rule: Usually ends with an exclamation mark.

Happy Birthday!

Welcome home!

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Rule: It can end with a period.
Take the garbage out.

Close the door.

Set the table now.

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Types of Imperatives
Rule: Provide guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.
Have fun.

Take care.

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.” – Christopher Morley

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Invitations, Offers
Rule: Extends an invitation or offer.
Have another piece of pie.

Please stay for dinner.

Go on! Come to the party with us tonight.

Don’t be afraid to ask if you want anything.

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Negative Imperative
Rule: It may be used as a negative by putting do not or doesn’t at the start of the sentence.
Don’t tell him you’re resigning now!

Wait until Monday when he’s in a better mood.

Don’t drink alcohol.

Don’t go swimming right after eating.

Let’s not forget to lock the door!

Don’t let’s mention anything about her husband. I think they’ve split up.

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Subject Pronoun in a Negative
Rule: If using a negative imperative, you comes after don’t.
Maria, don’t you try to pay for this. I invited you for lunch, and I insist on paying.

Janey, don’t you even think it.

Rule: Given by someone in a position of authority to someone under them.

The intonation of an order is important: each word is stressed, and the tone falls at the end of the sentence.

Quit it!

Move your ass!


Come here, check these documents, and give me your opinion.

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Question Imperative
Rule: This makes the imperative less direct.
Turn on the light, will you?

Ask him, can you?

Write to me, won’t you?

Don’t tell anyone, will you?

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Rule: Use a polite word before the verb or at the end of a sentence to make a request or share a wish.
Please take out your notebooks.

Give me the scissors, please.

Just wait here.

Please wait here.

Just give me a minute, please.

Have a nice day.

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Imperative with Do
Rule: Do is an auxiliary that makes the imperative sound more polite and more formal.
“May I use your phone to call a taxi?” “Do, of course, by all means.”

Do start.

Do sit down and make yourself comfortable.

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Do without Main Verb
Rule: Uses an emphasized do in short answers.
Q: May I use your phone to call a taxi? A: Do, of course, by all means.

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Imperative with Let
Rule: Let and let’s form a first person or third person imperative sentence.
First Person Imperative
Let me see. What should I do?

I can’t find my keys. Let’s see, where did I last have them?

Let’s start at nine-thirty tomorrow, please.

Let us begin by welcoming our new members.

Do let’s try to be more environmentally friendly.

“Shall we stop now and have a coffee break?” “Let’s.”

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Third Person Imperative
“How will Patrick know which house is ours?” “Let him knock on all the doors until he finds ours!”

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Rule: Warn someone of danger.
List of Additional Subject Pronouns
no one
Everybody gather round.

Somebody call a doctor. Quick!

Everybody sit down, please.

Quiet, everyone!

Don’t go in there!

Look out!


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Satisfy your curiosity about other Grammar Explanations or explore the Properly Punctuated, Word Confusions, and/or Formatting Tips.

Resources for the Imperative

“Imperative”. English Language Guide. n.d. Web. 13 June 2019. <>.

“Imperative Clauses (Be quiet!).” Cambridge Dictionary. English Grammar Today. n.d. Web. 13 June 2019. <>.

“Imperative Sentence”. Literary Devices. n.d. Web. 13 June 2019. <>.

“Imperative Verbs: Definition and Examples.” n.d. Web. 13 June 2019. <>.

Pinterest Photo Credits:

Stop Sign by Clover Autrey is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr.

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