English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is the imperative mood? (with examples)

What is the imperative mood? (with examples)

The imperative mood is a verbal form that gives an order. For example:

  • Empty the bin, John.
    (This is a verb in the imperative mood.)
  • John empties the bin.
    (This verb is not in the imperative mood. It is in the indicative mood.)

Commands can include orders, requests, advice, instructions and warnings.

The main verb (i.e., the finite verb) in an imperative sentence (i.e., one that gives a command) is said to be in the“imperative way“.

Forming the Imperative Mood

In English, the imperative mood uses the simple infinitive form (that is, the version without“to“).

Example 1:

  • Infinitive form: to take
  • Bare infinitive form: to take
  • Verb in the imperative mood: Take a leaflet.

Example 2:

  • Infinitive form: to remind
  • Bare infinitive form: to remind
  • The verb in the imperative mood: Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you. (Comedian Groucho Marx)

Example 3:

  • Infinitive form: to do
  • Bare infinitive form: to do
  • Verb in the imperative mood: If you’ve heard this story before, do not stop me, because I’d like to hear it again. (Groucho Marx)

Examples of Verbs in the Imperative Mood

Aquí hay algunos ejemplos más de verbos en modo imperativo (sombreados):

  • Run!
  • Get out!
  • Stop the bleeding.
  • I am going to cross the field. Shout when you see the bull.
    (I am going is the indicative mood (i.e., just a statement). However, shout is in the imperative mood.)

What Is Mood?

The mood is the form a verb takes to show how it should be considered (eg, as a fact, a command, a wish, an uncertainty).

There are three main moods in English:

The Indicative Mood. This states facts or asks questions. For example:

  • I am painting the fence.
  • Are you painting the fence?

The Imperative Mood. This expresses a command or a request. For example:

  • Paint the fence!
  • Please paint the fence.

The Subjunctive Mood. This shows a wish or doubt. For example:

  • I suggest that Mark paint the fence.
  • I propose that Mark be made to paint the fence.
  • If I were there, I would paint the fence.

Why Should I Care about the Imperative Mood?

The formation of verbs in the imperative mood causes few errors in native English speakers. That said, here are two noteworthy points related to the imperative mood.

(Point 1) Don’t use“myself“with a verb in the imperative mood.

This is a common mistake, especially in work emails.

  • Please contact your manager or myself with any suggestions.
    (It should be“me“not“myself.“)
    The subject of a verb in the imperative mood is an implied“you“(either singular or plural). This means you can only pair your verb with“yourself“or“yourselves.“You cannot pair your imperative verb with“myself.“

(Point 2) Exclamation marks are easily misinterpreted.

When typing a command, be aware of how much force an exclamation point adds and how that exclamation point could be misunderstood.

  • Pick me up at seven o’clock.
    (This is neutral.)
  • Pick me up at seven o’clock!
    (This is forceful. Does it mean“exactly seven o’clock“or does it mean“don’t forget!“)

Never use more than one exclamation point! It is considered rude.

Key Points

You can only pair your imperative verb with“yourself“o“yourselves“.

  • Help yourself. ✔️
  • Talk among yourselves. ✔️
  • Please email Jason or myself. ❌
    (Should be“me.“)

Never use more than one exclamation point.

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