Grammar Lesson: Imperatives

Why do we use imperatives?

Imperatives are used for a number of different purposes:

to give out orders: Tidy your room!
to give someone instructions: Take the first turning on the left
to give informal advice: Stay a little longer, its the weekend after all!
to offer something: Have some cake, it’s delicious

How do I form an imperative sentence?

Main Verb (Infinitive) + Object or Complement

The subject of a sentence is not required! For example, take a look at the following:

1. You play tennis to stay fit and healthy (Incorrect)
2. Play tennis to stay fit and healthy (Correct)

3. You wear a jacket, its cold outside! (Incorrect)
4. Wear a jacket, its cold outside! (Correct)

By looking at the second sentence in each pair, we can see that by leaving out the subject, we are able to make the meaning of a sentence more emphatic through both the verb and the object.

How do I form negative imperatives?

Do + Not (Don’t) + Main Verb (Infinitive) + Object or Complement

5. Don’t smoke in front of the children
6. Don’t forget to walk the dog

Extra Emphasis

Imperative sentences can be emphasized dramatically through the use of Always and Never, which are used before the main verb. This use of adverbs helps to reinforce strong advice in everyday situations.

7. Never drive without a seatbelt
8. Always wash your hand before handling food