The imperative in English
and forms of the imperative
|Index :||Use of the imperative||Forms of the imperative||Emphatic imperatives
- To give orders
- To instruct
- To warn
- To encourage
- To invite
They are occasionally used in the first and third persons, with the help of the auxiliary let.
In all cases, the verb or the auxiliary stands at the start of the sentence.
|Sample verb: Look||Affirmative||Negative|
second person (you)
|First person ( I, we)||Let me look
|Don't let me look
Let's not look
|Third person ( he, she, it, they etc)||Let him look etc.||Don't let him look (etc)|
Passive imperativesThese are rare : here are a couple of examples :
Don't be taken by surprise ! Let them not be forgotten
Exemples: simple imperatives - second personThe imperative form by itself can be rather blunt, rather abrupt, even rude. It can be made less abrupt, more polite, by the addition of softeners such as please, would you please, etc
- Tell him to go home.
- Shut up !
- Give me your answer by Friday !
- Don't let any of the prisoners escape.
- Don't pretend you never saw anyone enter the house !
no-one sees you !
- Come for dinner tomorrow evening!
hesitate to ask if you need help.
Exemples: softened imperativesFirst and third person imperatives are not common, but there are some common expressions that use them.
- Please tell him to go home.
- Would you shut up !
- Would you give me your answer by Friday, please !
- Please don't let any of the prisoners escape.
- Please don't pretend you never saw anyone enter the house !
Exemples: first and third person imperatives
- Let me see !.
- Let's go
- Let's not wait any longer.
- Let him think what he wants !
- Occasionally the pronoun you is added to simple imperatives, in order to add emphasis or to specify to whom the imperative is addressed. See examples 1 - 4
- Alternatively do can be added at the start of the sentence, as a redundant auxiliary (examples 5 - 7)
Exemples;The examples with added you may not look like emphatic imperatives, but they are. The yous can be omitted, and the sense remains the same. They are thus optional, not required as in an indicative context.
- You wait until your turn !.
- Shut up, you !
- You wait here while I go for assistance !
- You watch the front door, and you watch the back !
- Do have another cup of tea, if you'd like to.
- Do put that gun down please, you're frightening people !
Oh do shut up !
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