Imperative Sentences: Definition & Examples

We use imperative sentences when we want to tell someone to do something (most commonly for advice, suggestions, requests, commands, orders or instructions).

We can use them to tell people to do or not to do things. They usually don’t have a subject – they are addressed to the listener or listeners, who the speaker understands to be the subject. We use the base form of the verb.

Imperative clause usually ends with a period (.), but it may also end with an exclamation point (!).

For examples:

  • Get out of my way!
  • Stop talking and open your book.
  • Go upstairs.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Read the instructions.
  • Switch off your mobiles.
  • Hurry!
  • Wait!
  • Don’t be late!

Types of Imperative Sentences

Directives can take one of several forms in everyday speech and writing. A few of the most common uses include:

  • A request: Please consider.
  • An invitation: Come to my party.
  • A command/direct/order: Wake up now!
  • An instruction: Go straight ahead and turn left.
  • An advice: Don’t eat too much.
  • A warning/prohibition: Don’t touch me!

Modifying an Imperative Sentence

At their most basic, imperative sentences are binary, which is to say they must be either positive or negative.

Positive imperatives use affirmative verbs in addressing the subject; negatives do the opposite.

For examples:

  • Get up early – Don’t get up early.
  • Park your car here – Don’t park your car here.
  • Post those letters – Don’t post those letters.

We can use "do" or "just" to the beginning of the sentence, or the word "please" to the conclusion - called softening the imperative—makes imperative sentences more polite or conversational.

Imperatives with “Do”

When we use the emphatic "Do" auxiliary, it makes an imperative sound more polite and more formal.

  • Do sit down.
  • Do be quiet.

Imperatives with “Let” (Let’s)

We use "Let" to form first person and third person imperatives.

  • Let me see. What should I do?
  • Let’s go.

In more formal contexts, we use the full form "Let us".

  • Let us go.

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Imperative Sentences: Definition & Examples

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