The Imperative in English
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Imperative is used to give instructions, orders, instructions, advice, warn or invite someone to do something:
To use the imperative in English, we use an infinitive verb:
- Clean the kitchen.
- Open the window.
- Leave me alone!
- Wear a jacket, its too cold outside!
To the negative form it is necessary to add ‘do not’ or ‘don’t’ (do not is more insistent than don’t).
- Do not smoke!
- Don’t go!
- Don’t leave the door open.
- Don’t talk to me.
Using the imperative
1. To give instructions
- Push the red button.
- Turn right after the post office.
2. To give an order
- Come here!
- Sit down!
- Stop talking!
- Go out
3. To give advice
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Tell him what you really think.
4. To invite someone to do something (preferably with Please)
- Please, come to the party!
- Please hold the line.
- Please, have a drink.
- Please wait here.
English people use the word Kindly in writing to make a request:
- Kindly send me a copy of the last email as soon as possible.
We can also use just, please or if you wouldn’t mind to make the imperative less brutal and more polite:
- Come with me, please, if you wouldn’t mind.
- Just give me a minute, please.
5. To warn
- Watch out! / Look out!
- Don’t move!
Using DO with the imperative
DO can be used before the imperative to emphasize what you mean:
- Do drink plenty of water.
You can also accentuate imperative sentences by using Never or Always before the main verb:
- Never drive without a seatbelt.
- Always wash your hand before lunch.
The imperative with let’s (= contraction of let us)
- Let’s have a break.
- Let’s not tell him about it.
- Let’s ask this man.
- Let’s not forget to close the door.
Some common phrases to the imperative
- Have fun
- Hurry up
- Enjoy your meal.
- Don’t be late.
- Keep quiet.
- Give me a minute
- Don’t worry
- Please take a seat.