What Is an Imperative Sentence (with Examples)

Our Story

Imperative Sentence

An imperative sentence gives a direct command. It can end in a period (full stop) or an exclamation mark, depending on the forcefulness of the command.

Easy Examples of Imperative Sentences

  • Tidy your room!
  • Please tidy your room.
  • Shut up!
  • Please keep the noise down.
  • Consider the lily.
imperative_sentence

Real-Life Examples of Imperative Sentences

Forceful commands end with an exclamation mark.
  • Get out!
  • Watch your mouth, young man!
  • Go, and never darken my towels again! (Comedian Groucho Marx)
Polite or gentle commands end with a period (full stop).
  • Pass the pepper.
  • Don't forget to feed the pony.
  • If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again. (Groucho Marx)
  • A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. (Groucho Marx)
  • (Here, only the second sentence is an imperative sentence, i.e. a command.)
Commands in the form of advice also end with a period.
  • Don't count the days. Make the days count. (Boxer Muhammad Ali)
  • Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. (Philosopher Dandemis)
Be aware that not every sentence that ends with an exclamation mark is an imperative sentence. Exclamatory sentences, which are used to deliver a jolt of emotion, end in exclamation marks too.
  • I came first, Lee!
  • (This is an exclamatory sentence conveying the emotions of joy and surprise.)
  • Shut up!
  • (Of course, this could be an imperative sentence, but this expression is also used to mean "no way!", in which case it's an exclamatory sentence expressing surprise. You'll know from context, not the exclamation mark, whether the person is being hostile or astonished.)

More about Imperative Sentences

The main verb in an imperative sentence is said to be in the imperative mood. In grammar, mood is the form a verb takes to show how it is to be regarded (e.g., as a fact, a command, a wish, an uncertainty).) There are three moods in English: the imperative mood, indicative mood, and the subjunctive mood.

Read more about mood.

Other Sentence Types

Here are some examples of other sentence types:

Declarative Sentence
A declarative sentence states a fact or an argument and ends with a period (full stop). For example:
  • Lee has caught another whelk.
  • Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough. (Groucho Marx)
  • (These are all declarative sentences.)
Interrogative Sentence
An interrogative sentence asks a question. It ends with a question mark (?). For example:
  • Is that another whelk, Lee?
  • Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me? (Groucho Marx)
Exclamatory Sentence
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark (!). For example:
  • I've hooked another whelk!
  • (Conveys surprise.)
  • Either he's dead, or my watch has stopped! (Groucho Marx)
  • (Conveys candidness.)
Read more about the sentence types.

Why Should I Care about Imperative Sentences?

There are two good reasons to think about imperative sentences.

(Reason 1) Exclamation marks are easily misinterpreted.

When writing an imperative sentence, be mindful of how much force an exclamation mark adds.
  • Be there at seven.
  • Be there at seven!
Never use more than one exclamation mark! (That point is nearly worth two exclamation marks, but, actually, nothing is.)

(Reason 2) Don't use "myself" with an imperative sentence.

The subject of an imperative sentence is an implied "you" (either singular or plural). This means you can pair your verb with "yourself" or "yourselves." For example:
  • Please help yourself, mate.
  • (Here, the implied "you" is singular. Please (you) help yourself.)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, please chat among yourselves.
  • (Here, the implied "you" is plural. Please (you) chat among yourselves.)
You cannot, however, pair your imperative verb with any other words of that type, e.g., "myself," "himself," "herself," and "ourselves." (These are known as reflexive pronouns or emphatic pronouns.)
  • Please contact your manager or myself with any suggestions.
  • (It should be "me" not "myself.")
  • Allow myself to introduce…myself.
  • (This is from "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery". Only the first "myself" is wrong. It should be "me" not "myself.")
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What is a sentence? What is an indirect question? What is a declarative sentence? What is an exclamatory sentence? What is an imperative sentence? Glossary of grammatical terms