Imperative – Orders and Commands in English Grammar

Introduction

The imperative mood expresses an order or command. We use it to address one or more people directly. It is formed with the base or infinitive form of a verb and is generally used without a subject.

Learn about the imperative mood in English grammar with Lingolia’s online grammar rules and explanations. Practise using the imperative in the interactive exercises. With Lingolia’s online verb conjugator, you can check the conjugation of any English verb.

Example

Passenger: Stop! Could you take me to the station, please?

Taxi driver: Of course. Get in and fasten your seatbelt!

Passenger: Don’t drive too fast, please! I get sick easily.

Taxi driver: Don’t be silly. I cannot drive fast in the rush hour traffic! And please don’t be sick in my taxi!

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Usage

We use the imperative to order someone to do or not to do something.

Example:
Stop!
Get in!
Don’t drive too fast!

Polite Requests

In some languages, it’s common to use the imperative for requests. However, it would sound very direct and therefore rude to do this in English. To avoid sounding impolite in English, it is better to use a question rather than the imperative to make a request.

Example:
Could you take me to the station, please?
Take me to the station, please!

Conjugation

We use the basic form of the verb without to, to form the imperative in English grammar.

Example:
to stop → Stop!
to get in → Get in!
to fasten the seatbelt → Fasten your seatbelt!

Negative Form

To order someone not to do something, we use do + not before the verb. Most of the time we use the contraction don’t.

Example:
Don’t drive too fast!
Don’t be sick in my taxi!

We also use the auxiliary verb do when the full verb is be.

Example:
Don’t be silly! I cannot drive fast in the rush hour traffic.