The Imperative in English
There are several distinguishable forms of the imperative in English: affirmative, negative, and exhortative, as well as the more cordial ways of expressing an order. Let’s look at the characteristics of each of these together.
Hurry up or you’ll miss the show!
Switch the TV off.
Put the flour, milk, and eggs in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
Given that this is a very direct way to give orders, it can be accompanied by other expressions such as just, please, and if you don’t mind in order to soften the tone.
Just wait for me here, please.
Close the door, if you wouldn’t mind.
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Don’t be late!
Do not go to work today.
Don’t keep opening the fridge!
Let us observe a minute of silence, please.
In the negative form, the addition of the negation not is required between the prefix and the verb.
Let’s not go in, please.
When the prefix Let by a personal pronoun other than us, the meaning changes to “allow”.
Let me do the washing up for once.
Using the Imperative for Suggestions...
- Let’s + infinitive verb without the “to” (Exhortative Imperative)
Let’s not miss the train.
Let’s take a holiday!
- Why don’t we + infinitive verb without the “to“
Why don’t we go to the beach?
Why don’t you tell her the truth?
Imperative + Personal Pronouns
Can I go home?
No, you wait another 10 minutes.
Don’t you tell me what to do!
Imperative Addressed to a Group of People
Somebody call an ambulance. Quick!
Everybody sit down, please.
All rise! (used in courtrooms)
Imperative + Do
Do come in!
Do come and visit us next time.
Do help yourselves to the buffet!
All of these phrases, which you will definitely find very useful, are taken from an ABA English video class. If you are thinking about improving your English, you can try our free course. We offer 144 free video classes and the same quantity of short films that will help you both learn English and to understand how to speak English appropriately in the different contexts of your daily life. What are you waiting for? Join the 17 million students at ABA English today.
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