Easy Learning

The imperative - Easy Learning Grammar

Commands and orders

The imperative is used to give commands and orders. The form of the verb used for the imperative is the base form of the main verb, which is used without a subject.
  • Walk to the corner, turn right, and cross the road.
  • Open your mouth and say ‘Aaaah’.
  • Although the main feature of sentences in the imperative is that they have no grammatical subject, they do have an understood subject, ‘you’.
The basic form of the imperative remains the same whether it is addressed to one or more people.
  • Come on, Mary; I’m waiting.
  • Come on, girls; you’re late.
There is also a special type of imperative, using let’s, that is used when you need to include the speaker. See The imperative.The word order of a sentence in the imperative is:   verb + object (if needed).The negative imperative is made with do + not or don’t.
  • Don’t lose that key.
  • Do not come back without it!
The uses of the imperative are as follows:
  • to give an order.
  • Go away.
  • Stop that.
  • Keep quiet.
  • to give instructions.
  • Don’t use this spray near a naked flame.
  • Apply the glue thinly and leave it for ten minutes.
  • to give advice or warnings.
  • Don’t forget to take your passport with you.
  • Be careful!
  • Don’t go on the ice.
  • to make an offer or an invitation.
  • Have a piece of cake.
  • Come round and see me some time.
The imperative of do + a main verb can be used:
  • for polite emphasis.
  • Do take your coat off.
  • to be persuasive.
  • Do try to eat a little of this; it will be good for you.
  • to show irritation.
  • Do stop talking! I’m trying to work.
  • Note that the imperative is not the only way to form a command or an order. You can also issue a command when you use a sentence in the declarative or the interrogative.
  • I’m certainly not going to get it – you get it.
  • Would you get it, then? I’m busy.

Making suggestions

Let’s (let + us) + main verb is used in the 1st person plural only, especially when you are trying to encourage someone to do something with you.It includes both the speaker and the hearer, so the subject that is understood is represented by the plural we.
  • Let’s visit Malcolm this weekend.
  • Please let’s go to the cinema tonight.
  • Do let’s have a look at your new computer, Chris.
  • Let’s pool our resources.
  • Suggestions which start with let’s often end with the sentence tag shall we?
  • Let’s phone her now, shall we?
  • Let’s go for a walk after supper, shall we?
In ordinary English the negative is let’s not + main verb or sometimes don’t let’s + main verb.
  • Let’s not worry about that now.
  • Don’t let’s worry about that now.
In formal English, the negative is let us not + main verb.
  • Let us not lose sight of our aims.
Do let’s is the emphatic form.
  • It’s a very good bargain; do let’s buy it!
  • The uncontracted form let us + main verb is occasionally used in formal and written English.
  • Let us be clear about this.
  • Let us hope that this will never happen again.
The answer to a suggestion with let’s is normally either, yes, let’s or no, let’s not or sometimes, no, don’t let’s ().
  • Let’s phone her now, shall we? – Yes, let’s.
  • Let’s phone her now, shall we? – No, let’s not.
  • Let’s invite Malcolm over this weekend. – No, don’t let’s do that.

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