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Imperatives

Grammar Game

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We use imperatives for different reasons, such as telling people what to do, giving instructions and advice, making
recommendations and suggestions, and for making offers.

Come in and sit down, please.


Don't open the window - it's cold.
Put the coin in the slot and press the red button.
Don't ask her - she doesn't know.
See the doctor - it's the best thing.
Have a bit more wine.

Notice that the affirmative form of the imperative is the same as the infinitive with to. The negative imperative uses don't
(do not) and the infinitive.
Swan (Practical English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1997) describes the following additional elements of the use
of the imperative:
"Emphatic imperative
We can make an emphatic imperative with do + imperative. This is common in polite requests, complaints and
apologies.
Do sit down.

Do be a bit more careful.


Do forgive me - I didn't mean to interrupt.

Passive imperative
To tell people to arrange for things to be done to them, we often use get + past participle.
Get vaccinated as soon as you can.
Do(n't) be
Although do is not normally used as an auxiliary with be, do is used before be in negative and emphatic imperatives.
Don' t be silly!

Do be quiet!

Subject with imperative


The imperative does not usually have a subject, but we can use a noun or pronoun to make it clear who we are speaking
to.
Mary come here - everybody else stay where you are.

Somebody answer the phone.


Nobody move.
Relax, everybody.

You before an imperative can suggest emphatic persuasion or anger.


You just sit down and relax for a bit.

You take your hands off me!

Question tags
After imperatives, the normal question tags are will you? won't you? would you? can you? and could you? After
negative imperatives, will you? is used.
Give me a hand, will you?

Sit down, won't you?


Get me something to drink, can you?
Be quiet, can't you?

Don't tell anybody, will you?

Word order
Always and never come before imperatives.
Always remember what I told you. (NOT Remember always)

Never speak to me like that again."

pp. 254-255
For more information on the imperative, see the following web sites:
http://mueller.zems.tu-berlin.de/evti/students/unit1/gram/bx_impera.html
http://www.ultralingua.com/help/grammars/english/english/17.htm
http://www.english-online.org.uk/int2/aski1.htm
http://www.english-online.org.uk/adv2/aska1.htm
quizzes and games on the imperative:
http://www.quia.com/jg/67789.html
http://www.better-english.com/grammar/imperative1.htm

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