Linguapress English Grammar
Advanced level reading resources Intermediate reading resources English grammar online Language games and puzzles
Linguapress English Grammar

The imperative  in English

 Use and forms of the imperative 

Index : Use of the imperative Forms of the imperative Emphatic imperatives

Use of the imperative

The imperative forms of verbs are used for several specific but similar purposes:

Forms of the imperative

Imperatives are most commonly used in the active and in the second person, i.e. implying you. The pronoun is however omitted.
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
Common imperative :
second person (you)
Look Don't look
First person ( I, we) Let me look
Let's 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 imperatives

These are rare : here are a couple of examples :
Don't be taken by surprise !       Let them not be forgotten

Exemples: simple imperatives - second person
  1. Tell him to go home.
  2. Shut up !
  3. Give me your answer by Friday !
  4. Don't let any of the prisoners escape.
  5. Don't pretend you never saw anyone enter the house !
  6. Make sure no-one sees you !
  7. Come for dinner tomorrow evening!
  8. Don't hesitate to ask if you need help.
The 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
Exemples: softened imperatives
  1. Please tell him to go home.
  2. Would you shut up !
  3. Would you give me your answer by Friday, please !
  4. Please don't let any of the prisoners escape.
  5. Please don't pretend you never saw anyone enter the house !
First and third person imperatives are not common, but there are some common expressions that use them.

Exemples: first and third person imperatives
  1.    Let me see !.
  2.    Let's go
  3.    Let's not wait any longer.
  4.    Let him think what he wants !

Emphatic imperatives

There are two ways of adding emphasis to an imperative.
  1.    You wait until your turn !.
  2.    Shut up, you !
  3.    You wait here while I go for assistance !
  4.    You watch the front door, and you watch the back !
  5.     Do have another cup of tea, if you'd like to.
  6.      Do put that gun down please, you're frightening people !
  7.     Oh do shut up !
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.

Return to Grammar index 

Copyright   : Website and texts © renewed 2021 except where otherwise indicated


Cette page en français: ►
L'impératif en anglais

► Click for  Full grammar index
Selected main grammar pages
Verbs: the present tense
Verbs : the future
Past tenses
Phrasal & prepositional verbs
Gerunds, participles and -ing forms
The infinitive
Irregular verb tables
Nouns, pronouns, adjectives
Noun phrases
Adjective order in English
The possessive
Sentences & clauses
Relative clauses in English
Conditional clauses in English
Word order in English
Reported questions in English
Language and style 
Word stress in English
The short story of English
More resources
Reading resources: advanced 
Reading resources: intermediate
Crosswords and word games

Discover Britain - institutions, tourism, life

online shopping
Shop safely for Christmas
clothes,  fashion,  souvenirs, British specialities, sportswear
and more
Discover  UK stores that offer great prices and deliver all over the world

CopyrightCopyright information.
Copyright by  -  Free to view, free to share,  free to use in class, free to print, but not free to copy..
If you like this page and want to share it with others,  just share a link, don't copy.

Linguapress respects your privacy and does not collect personal data. We use cookies only to log anonymous visitor stats and enable essential page functions; click   to remove this message, otherwise click for more details