English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is an imperative sentence? (with examples)

What is an imperative sentence? (with examples)

An imperative sentence gives a direct command. It can end in a period (dot) or an exclamation point, depending on the forcefulness of the command.

Easy Examples of Imperative Sentences

  • Tidy your room!
  • Please tidy your room.
  • Shut up!
  • Please keep the noise down.
  • Consider the lily.

Real-Life Examples of Imperative Sentences

Los comandos enérgicos terminan con un signo de exclamación.

  • Get out!
  • Watch your mouth, young man!
  • Go, and never darken my towels again! (Comedian Groucho Marx)

Los comandos corteses o gentiles terminan con un punto (punto).

    • Pass the pepper.
    • Don’t forget to feed the pony.
    • If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again. (Groucho Marx)
    • A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. (Groucho Marx)

(Here, only the second sentence is an imperative sentence, i.e. a command.)

Commands in the form of hints also end with a period.

  • Don’t count the days. Make the days count. (Boxer Muhammad Ali)
  • Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. (Philosopher Dandemis)

Note that not all sentences ending with an exclamation mark are imperative sentences. Exclamatory sentences, which are used to generate a jolt of emotion, also end in exclamation points.

  • I came first, Lee!
    (This is an exclamatory sentence conveying the emotions of joy and surprise.)
  • Shut up!
    (Of course, this could be an imperative sentence, but this expression is also used to mean “no way!“, in which case it’s an exclamatory sentence expressing surprise. You’ll know from context, not the exclamation mark, whether the person is being hostile or astonished.)

More about Imperative Sentences

The main verb in an imperative sentence is said to be in the imperative mood. In grammar, mood is the form a verb takes to show how it is to be considered (for example, as a fact, a command, a wish, an uncertainty). There are three moods in English: the imperative mood, the indicative mood, and the subjunctive mood.

Forming an Imperative Sentences

In English, the verb in an imperative sentence uses the simple infinitive form (that is, the version without“to“).

Example 1:

  • Infinitive form: to run
  • Bare infinitive form: to run
  • Imperative verb: Run to the hills.

Example 2:

  • Infinitive form: to be
  • Bare infinitive form: to be
  • Imperative verb: Be the best version of yourself.

Example 3:
Infinitive form: to do
Bare infinitive form: to do
Imperative verb: If you’ve heard this story before, do not stop me, because I’d like to hear it again. (Groucho Marx)

Note that an imperative verb does not have a subject. The subject is“you“, but it is implicit. It is never used.

  • On the whistle, you jump in the lake.
    (The subject “you“ is implied, not used.)
  • For the rest of the day, you be the best version of yourself.
    (The subject “you“is implied, not used.)

Other Sentence Types

These are some examples of other types of sentences:

Declarative Sentence
A declarative sentence states a fact or an argument and ends with a period (dot). For example:

  • Lee has caught another whelk.
  • Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough. (Groucho Marx)
    (These are all declarative sentences.)

Interrogative Sentence
An interrogative sentence asks a question. It ends with a question mark (?). For example:

  • Is that another whelk, Lee?
  • Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me? (Groucho Marx)

Exclamatory Sentence
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. End with an exclamation mark (!). For example:

  • I’ve hooked another whelk!
    (Conveys surprise.)
  • Either he’s dead, or my watch has stopped! (Groucho Marx)
    (Conveys candidness.)

Why Should I Care about Imperative Sentences?

Hay dos buenas razones para pensar en oraciones imperativas.

(Reason 1) Exclamation marks are easily misinterpreted.

When writing an imperative sentence, consider how much force an exclamation point adds.

  • Be there at seven.
  • Be there at seven!

Never use more than one exclamation point! (That period is almost worth two exclamation points, but it’s really worth nothing.)

(Reason 2) Don’t use “myself“with an imperative sentence.

The subject of an imperative sentence is a“you“implied (whether singular or plural). This means that you can pair your verb with“yourself“ o “yourselves“. For example:

  • Please help yourself, mate. ✔️
    (Here, the implied “you“ is singular. Please (you) help yourself.)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, please chat among yourselves. ✔️
    (Here, the implied “you“is plural. Please (you) chat among yourselves.)

However, you cannot pair your imperative verb with any other word of that type, for example,“myself“, “the same“, “she herself“ y “ourselves“. (These are known as reflexive pronouns or emphatic pronouns.)

  • Please contact your manager or myself with any suggestions. ❌
    (It should be “me“ not “myself.“)
  • Allow myself to introduce…myself. ❌
    (This is from “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery“. Only the first “myself“ is wrong. It should be “me“ not “myself.“)

Key Points

  • You can only pair your imperative verb with“yourself“ o “yourselves“.
    • Knock yourself out. ✔️
    • Do it yourself. ✔️
    • Please email Irene or myself. ❌
      (Should be me.)
  • Nunca use más de un signo de exclamación.

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