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Imperative mood

While speaking of something urgent/or and of utmost importance, we use commands or instructions. These are called imperatives. Imperative mood is essentially a grammatical mood that caters to commands. The other grammatical moods are interrogative, indicative, injunctive, subjunctive and so on. In this article, let us discuss the imperative mood.

  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
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Mood indicates the expression of a sentence – for example whether it a question, command, request or fact.

Consider the following sentences –

Go from here right now!

I wish you could go from here right now.

Think about the difference between the 2 sentences. In the first one, the mood is that of a command, however the second one is like a wish (hope). The verb in the first sentence is in the imperative mood.

Formation of imperative

Verb + object + rest of the sentence

Examples –

Fill up + the form + in capital letters.

Don’t + use + calculators + in the exam.

Clean + the room + before going to bed!

The imperative tone

Imperative mood is generally used in second person. So, when we say ‘Go to the market’ it essentially means ‘You should go to the market’ but since the command given is for the other person, ‘you’ is obvious and we don’t mention it. In case the person saying the imperative sentence wants to include self, “let’s” can be used. For example – Let’s go to the park today evening, Let’s not argue over petty things.

Softer imperative moods

A command in imperative mood can be changed into a softer tone by using please. For example

Add 2 cups of sugar in my tea.

Please add 2 cups of sugar in my tea.

Please note – “Could you please add 2 cups of sugar in my tea” or “Could you add 2 cups of sugar in my tea” – is not an instruction or command, hence this is not an imperative sentence. Use of “could you” makes this a question. Same way, usage of “would” in the above sentence will remove the sense of command from the sentence.

Imperative verb is always in present tense

Another point to note is that imperatives (verb) are used in present tense. That means the base form of verb. “Eat your food”, “Go home now”, “Bring your own book”, “Change clothes now!”

Use imperatives for instructions

Use imperatives for giving instructions, for example, how to create a new document on MS word –

·         Click on start

·         Type ‘word’ in the search bar

·         Click on ‘Word’ from the list

·         Select ‘Blank document’ from the options

As you see, imperatives lay out the entire process as set of instructions.


Here is a quick recap about imperatives –

·         Used for giving commands, example – “Sit down!”

·         Used for giving instructions and warnings. Example – “Pull the plug out before touching the heater.”, “Boil the water and then add tea leaves.”

·         Can be made softer (request) by using please. “Please sit down!”

·         Used only to give orders and commands and often leaves no room for discussion or conversation. Examples – “Please stand in Queue”, “Give the envelope to her”, “Switch off the TV”

·         You can use imperatives for expressions as well, for example – “Enjoy your trip!”, “Have a good time!”. These are not exactly commands or instructions, but syntactically imperatives.

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