Form of the imperative
form is the same as the ''bare infinitive'':
form (base form of the verb): Wait!
form (Don't + base form): Don't wait!
(Do + base form): Do wait a moment!
someone (e.g. pronoun + base form): You wait here!
question tag: Wait here, will you?
joined by and: Go and play outside.
uses of the Imperative
We use the
Imperative for direct orders and suggestions and also for a variety of
other purposes. Stress and intonation, gesture, facial expression, and,
above all, situation and context, indicate whether the use of this form is
friendly, abrupt, angry, impatient, persuasive, etc. The negative form is
usually expressed by Don't. The full form (Do not) is used
mainly in public notices. Here are some common uses:
commands, requests, suggestions:
Prohibitions (in e.g. public notices):
(especially after always and never):
Uses of the
Imperative with 'do'
We use do
(always stressed) before the Imperative when we particularly wish to
emphasize what we are saying: e.g.
- when we
wish to be polite:
- or when
we wish to express impatience:
- or when
we wish to persuade:
to requests for permission, offers, etc. do and don't can be
used in place of a full Imperative:
The use of the
imperative to address particular people
imperative, e.g. Wait here!, might be addressed to one person or
several people: you is implied. However, we can get the attention
of the person or people spoken to in the following ways:
1. You +
and stress are important. If, in the above example, you is
unstressed, the sentence means 'this is where you wait'. If it is
stressed, it means 'this is what I want you to do'. When you
is stressed, it might also convey anger, hostility or rudeness:
mind your own business!
try teaching 40 noisy children five days a week!
(not you) is stressed in the negative:
you speak to me like that!
2. You +
name(s) or name(s) + you:
Imperative + name or name + Imperative:
Imperative + reflexive:
5. We can
use words like everybody, someone with the Imperative when we are
talking to groups of people:
Any compounds are used after negative commands:
with question tags
Tags like will
you?, won't you?, can you?, can't you?, could you? and would you? can
often be used after an imperative for a variety of purposes: e.g.
- to express annoyance/impatience with will/won't/can't you?
- to make a request (can you? for neutral requests; could/would
you? for more polite ones); or to sound less abrupt:
- to offer polite encouragement or to make friendly offers and suggestions
(will you? and won't you?):
- to obtain the co-operation of others with Don't ... will you?
tell anyone I told you, will you?
note why don't you? as a tag in: e.g.
for the weekend, why don't you?
imperatives joined by 'and'
imperatives can be followed by 'and' and another imperative where
we might expect a 'to-infinitive':
buy yourself a new pair of shoes. (Not *Go to buy*)
and see this goldfish. (Not *Come to see*)
and play a game of bridge with us. (Not *Come to play*)
and see. (Not *Wait to see*)
see my point of view. (Note: Try to is also possible.)
English go is sometimes followed directly by a 'bare infinitive':
'to-infinitive' can follow an imperative to express purpose: