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English GrammarBasic English Grammar - Imperative Sentences

Basic English Grammar – Imperative Sentences

What is an Imperative Sentence?

Imperative sentences are commonly used, maybe you are working in a police force, military, or working in a company, or maybe your parents always use it 🙂 However, using imperatives needs to be careful otherwise it will be rude. Just imagine someone talking to you with imperative sentences which is like bossing you, just give you instructions without room, you will feel so impolite. Take a look at the below situation:

Move out of my way!

Clean the floors.

Complete the tasks before 5 pm.

Shut up your mouth.

Get out, man!

The above imperative sentences examples sound so disrespectful. Sometimes just adding a “please”  or “let us” will be much better. 

Let’s see the below examples:

Let us pray together.

Let me help you for a while.

Let’s not miss the concert. 

No sugar, please.

Be careful of that person, please.

Also, you can use imperative sentences for suggestions with “Why don’t”. Take a look at the following examples:

Why don’t you sleep right now?

Why don’t we give up?

Why don’t you carry the luggage yourself?

Imperative instructions:

Most often, imperative sentences end with exclamation marks ( ! ) for commands or direct orders. You can literally sense the tone and purposes of giving instructions or commands. Starting with a Verb without a subject is another main characteristic of imperative sentences, as it is used to give direct order in some situations. You can’t really expect the commander of the army to say: “Can you please help me fire the enemies, David?” It sounds so weird.

The imperative sentence means no subject in the sentence, but sometime you may encounter the situation like below:

Open the window, Jack!

Harry, don’t do that. 

Remove the cover, Jacob!

Hmm … look like there are subjects in the above sentences right? Well, they are called vocative or nouns of address. 

What is vocative?

Vocative (Noun of address) means the grammatical representation of a noun, used to address a person, or sometimes as a qualifier of a noun. Simply speaking, the use of vocative is a direct expression in which the individual “person” spoken of in a group of people is placed in the sentence. Usually vocatives separate the sentence with one comma, depending on the situation. 

So the imperative sentences are constructed with vocative instead of a subject. 

Alright, some students wondering there are lots of imperative sentences in the area like train, airport, meeting room:

No smoking.

No drinking.

No fishing.

Are they imperative sentences?

Probably not, they are more likely noun phrases instead of sentences. The meanings are so similar sometimes but they are actually in the form of  “No + Gerund” (You can refer to another tutorial about Gerund’s meaning). 

Don’t + Infinitive (Negative Imperatives)

Moreover, we usually won’t use the “To” and “Ing” form for the verb. Like the below examples are not imperative sentences:

Don’t try to hide your bag.

You don’t run on the road. 

Instead, the correct examples of imperative sentences should be:

Don’t hide your bag.

Don’t run on the road. 

In conclusion, the meaning of imperative sentences is not only for commands but also for telling someone what to do or giving direct instructions. The form of imperatives is always an infinitive without “To”. 

Put oil, eggs, and onions in Pan-fried for 3 minutes. 

Hurry up or you will miss the bus!

5 more examples of imperative sentences

Don’t touch me!

Watch your mouth before saying.

Listen to me.

Shut down the power. 

Get out of the car immediately!


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