Imperative Sentence

What Is an Imperative Sentence?

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

Examples of Imperative Sentences

Here are some easy examples of imperative sentences:
  • Tidy your room!
  • Please tidy your room.
  • Shut up!
  • Please keep the noise down.
  • Consider the lily.

Table of Contents

  • Imperative Sentences End with Exclamation Marks or Periods (Full Stops)
  • Forming an Imperative Sentence
  • Find the Imperative Verb Test
  • More about Imperative Sentences
  • Other Sentence Types
  • Why Imperative Sentences Are Important
  • Video Lesson
  • Test Time!
imperative sentence examples

Imperative Sentences End with Exclamation Marks or Periods (Full Stops)

To express a forceful command, end your imperative sentence with an exclamation mark.
  • Get out!
  • Watch your mouth, young man!
  • Go, and never darken my towels again! (Comedian Groucho Marx)
For a polite or gentle commands, end your imperative sentence 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.)

Find the Imperative Verb Test

It's your go! Select the imperative verb in the following sentences imperative sentences.

Forming an Imperative Sentence

In English, the verb in an imperative sentence uses the bare infinitive form (i.e., the version without "to").

Example 1:
  • Infinitive form: to run
  • Bare infinitive form: to run
  • Imperative verb: Run to the hills.
Example 2:
  • Infinitive form: to be
  • Bare infinitive form: to be
  • Imperative verb: Be the best version of yourself.
Example 3:
  • Infinitive form: to do
  • Bare infinitive form: to do
  • Imperative verb: If you've heard this story before, do not stop me, because I'd like to hear it again. (Groucho Marx)
Notice that an imperative verb does not have a subject. The subject is "you," but it is implied. It is never used.
  • On the whistle, you jump in the lake.
  • (The subject "you" is implied, not used.)
  • For the rest of the day, you be the best version of yourself.
  • (The subject "you" is implied, not used.)

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.

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 Imperative Sentences Are Important

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. correct tick
  • (Here, the implied "you" is singular. Please (you) help yourself.)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, please chat among yourselves. correct tick
  • (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. wrong cross
  • (It should be "me" not "myself.")
  • Allow myself to introduce...myself. wrong cross
  • (This is from "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery". Only the first "myself" is wrong. It should be "me" not "myself.")

Key Points

Video Lesson

Here is an 8-minute video summarizing this lesson on imperative sentences: video lesson

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.