Imperative Mood | Definition, Examples & Use
The imperative mood is a verb form used to make a demand or to give advice or instructions (e.g., “slow down!”).
The imperative mood is one of three grammatical moods in English, along with the indicative mood and the subjunctive mood.
Sentences in the imperative mood imply a second-person subject (i.e., “you”), but they normally don’t actually include the word “you” or any other subject.
What is the imperative mood?
The grammatical mood of a verb indicates the intention and tone of the sentence. The imperative mood is one of three grammatical moods.
|Indicative||Express a fact
Ask a question
Express a condition
|“Amir plays golf.”
“Can we go home?”
“You can stay for dinner if you like.”
|Imperative||Express a demand or suggestion||“Pay attention!”|
|Subjunctive||Express a wish, demand, suggestion, or hypothetical situation||“I wish I were a billionaire.”|
How to use the imperative mood
The imperative mood can be used to make a demand or suggestion or to issue a warning. It’s commonly used in recipes and instruction manuals, on road signs, in GPS navigation, and when giving instructions or advice aloud.
Verbs in the imperative mood don’t follow subject-verb agreement. Instead, they take the infinitive form (e.g., “run,” “look”). The subject of sentences in the imperative mood is implicitly the second-person pronoun “you.” However, the pronoun is almost always omitted.
Exclamation points are commonly used in imperative sentences to emphasize the intensity of a demand. However, this is not obligatory and can seem overly dramatic depending on the context.
Negative constructions in the imperative mood are formed by adding “do not” (or the contracted form “don’t”) before the imperative verb.
First-person plural imperatives
First-person plural imperatives are used to suggest that both the speaker and the addressee do something. They’re expressed using the imperative verb along with a combination of the verb “let” and the first-person plural object pronoun “us” (i.e., “let’s”).
Negative first-person plural imperatives are formed by adding the adverb “not” after “let us” or “let’s” and before the imperative verb.
Imperative mood and reflexive pronouns
Because the imperative mood typically uses the implied second-person pronoun (“you”), the only reflexive pronouns used in imperative sentences are “yourself” (singular) and “yourselves” (plural). All other pronouns use the object form (e.g., “me,” “us,” “him,” “her”).
Imperative vs. indicative
Imperative statements are used to express a demand or make a suggestion, while indicative statements are used to express a fact.
For most verbs, the imperative form (e.g., “run”) is identical to the second-person present indicative form (e.g., “you run”). The exception is the verb “be,” which takes the infinitive form “be” in the imperative but takes the form “are” in the indicative.
Most sentences with verbs in the imperative mood can be made indicative by adding the second-person pronoun. With “be,” you’ll also need to change the form of the verb.
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Frequently asked questions
- What is the imperative mood?
- What is an imperative sentence?
An imperative sentence is a sentence in the imperative mood (i.e., the grammatical mood used to make a demand or give instructions).
While sentences in the imperative mood typically don’t have an explicit subject, the implied subject of most imperative sentences is the second-person pronoun “you” (e.g., “answer the phone”).
- What is an imperative verb?
Verbs in the imperative mood take the infinitive form (e.g., “wash the dishes”). The subject of an imperative verb is implied to be the second-person pronoun “you,” but the pronoun normally isn’t included.
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