What are Imperative Sentences? Definition, Meaning, Rules, Uses & Examples

An imperative sentence is one of the most interesting sentence types of the English language. These sentences will help you express a lot of interesting ideas within the daily conversations. So, if you have doubts about this sentence type, then this post is for you.

So, let’s look at the definition of an imperative sentence.

What is an Imperative Sentence?

These sentences are very easy to understand and spot because we use them all the time in our daily conversations. These sentences are used to make a wish, express a desire or give some kind of command. Sometimes we even use them to give out a warning.

Always remember that the final punctuation is usually a full-stop/period (.) or an exclamation mark/point (!).

what imperative sentences definition meaning rules examples
What imperative sentences definition meaning rules examples

Plus, they can be positive or negative depending on the context and also whether it is present or future time. Now, let’s look at the function of this sentence type.

What Is The Function Of An Imperative Sentence?

As mentioned, these sentences are usually used to give a command or instruction. Let’s look at some examples to get a better understanding

  • Hurry!
  • Get Out!
  • Don’tDon’t drink that!

How to Use These Sentences?

Remember, right at the beginning; I said that these sentences are very interesting. This is because you can use them in multiple ways. Firstly, you can use them to give direct commands, but you can be polite with them as well and go for instructions. Your approach and tone will dictate everything here. Let’s look at some examples of the positive and negative examples. 

Positive Negative

Please throw the dice! Don’tDon’t you touch that ball!

Remove the packaging before easting. Don’tDon’t you open the door till I say so!

Some Special Case For Imperative Sentences:

There are some exceptions and alternatives to the imperative sentence as well.

Imperative with the subject:

As you know, when we use the imperative sentence, there is no subject as we think that the subject is obvious. But to make the subject clear, sometimes we can use a subject, for example:

  • Hey you, look!
  • Relax, everyone.
  • Nobody move!
  • Mark, you stay back; the rest of you can go!

The subject can sometimes also imply anger:

  • You watch your step!
  • Don’tDon’t talk to me in that tone!

Unreal commands:

If you wish to make some suggestions, then you can use the imperative form. These can be called unreal commands:

  • Have a good day!
  • Enjoy your food
  • Try some ointment on that.

Imperative with “do”:

You can use these sentences to convey requests, apologies, or complaints but in a much more polite way:

  • Do make him a call.
  • Do remind me of doing this thing.
  • Do keep the lights out after 12.

Imperative with always, never, ever:

  • Always remember who is chief here!
  • Never open that box without my permission. 

Passive imperative:

  • Get your movie tickets before they are sold out! 

Imperative with and:

  • Please leave, and I never wish to see you again!

Imperative with question tag:

Using question tags with imperative is another fashion; these examples are: 

Can you? Can’tCan’t you? Could you? Will you? Won’tWon’t you? Would you? 

  • Lend me a pen, will you?
  • Help me with this work, can you?
  • Hold this still for me, will you?

Tag Questions:

Let’s look at the tag questions with some more detail.

  • Forward me that email, will you?
  • Lend me some money, won’t you?

Both of these sentences use imperative sentences, but they come with an emphasis within the form of a question. These sentences are not the same as other typical interrogative sentences. They have the same format as a suggestion or command just like imperatives do.

Let’s look at some examples of this kind:

  • Take out to dinner, will you?
  • Open the door for me, can you?
  • Pick me up at 8, will you?

Types of Imperative Sentences

Much like any other sentence type, the imperative Sentences have a few types as well. They could be classified depending on the purpose they serve. Sometimes they can be used to instruct, give a command, make requests, and do other things. Below, I am listing all the different types. 

Instructive Imperative Sentences

This type is perfect for relaying instructions, and they are very relevant to our daily life.

For Example-

  • Close the door.
  • Open the cupboard
  • Let the eggs boil some more time.
  • Take the turn ahead slowly
  • Drink it with lukewarm water. 

An Imperative Sentence Making a Request or a Wish

By the name, you can understand that these sentences are used to make a wish or a request-

  • Have a good trip!
  • Hope you have a nice day.
  • Drink milk every day!
  • May God bless you!
  • Have a safe journey!

Imperative Sentences Sharing an Invitation

You can use these sentences to send an invitation:

  • Come to my wedding next week.
  • Please join us in our celebration.
  • Let’s get some coffee someday.
  • Let’s party tonight at my place!

Imperative Sentences Giving a Command/Request

This type is perfect for giving a command:

  • Turn out the lights.
  • Don’t bother him when he is working.
  • Go and tell him to come at once.
  • Please don’t bother my cat.
  • Stop moving your legs like that! 

Direct – Indirect Imperative Sentences

As mentioned earlier, for the imperative sentences, you will not have a subject. It is always hidden, and only you can understand that. So, when we wish to change these sentences to indirect imperative, we need to use specific verbs like- requested, advised, suggested, ordered, instructed, allowed, forbade, warned, asked, etc.

Let’s look at some examples to understand them better:

  • Direct: The old man said, “Please give me something to eat.”
  • Indirect: The old man requested me to give him something to eat.
  • Direct: The teacher told the kids, “Open page number 21”.
  • Indirect: The teacher instructed the kids to open page number 21.
  • Direct: She said to him, “close the curtains immediately”.
  • Indirect: She ordered him to close the curtains immediately.
  • Direct: The teacher told him, “Study sincerely throughout the year”.
  • Indirect: The teacher advised him to study sincerely throughout the year.

These sentences are converted using these verbs, namely requested, instructed, ordered, forbade, and warned. 

Rules for Forming Imperative Sentences

Now, let’s look at the basic rules of forming the imperative sentence. This will help you understand the concept of imperative Sentences in a much better way.

Rule One – No Subject:

These sentences will not have a proper subject, and they will begin with an Imperative Verb. So, you can understand the subject, but it is never mentioned.

Go through the below proper sentences with subjects-

  • John, please take care of my dogs.
  • Rebecca, go and do your homework.
  • Children, water the plants carefully.
  • Soldiers, always are alert of your enemies.
  • Staff, follow my guidelines.

Here, you can see that all the sentences have proper subjects such as John, Rebecca, Children, Soldiers, and Staff. 

But what if you remove the subjects from the sentences; as given below-

  • Take care of the dogs.
  • Do your homework.
  • Water the plants carefully.
  • Be alert of your enemies.
  • Follow my guidelines.

But even now, every single sentence makes proper sense without the subjects. This is because they have something called the Imperative Verbs or Bossy Verbs- like, for example, the ones you can see here as take, do, walk, and follow. Thus, they can still be perceived as commands.

Rule Two – Decide the Tone:

A lot depends on the tone of your voice when you are using the imperative sentence. Hence, this is the second rule that you need to keep in mind. 

Let’s look at some examples to understand better. Firstly, there are three tones that we use generally.

  • Neutral tone
  • Fairly neutral tone
  • Tone Expressing strong emotions

When you are using the imperative sentence with a neutral tone of voice, it can represent a mild request and a request spoken with a fairly neutral tone. But it will sound like a command when you are using a strong voice.

Let’s look at some sentences:

Pass the curry. (Can be a mild request in a neutral tone)

Pass the curry. (Can be a strong request in a fairly neutral tone)

Pass the Curry! (It is a command since delivered by a raised voice)

Rule Three – Choose the Punctuations Wisely

When you are using these sentences, you need to be careful about the punctuation. If it is a suggestion or request, then it will end with a period (.) But in case of a strong emotional request or command, you need to use an exclamation mark (!).

  • Close the fridge.
  • Switch off the AC.
  • Finish your meal.

As you can see, these sentences end with a period because they are said in a mild tone, but with a louder voice, they can be perceived as strong commands and thus end with an exclamation.

  • Close the fridge!
  • Switch off the AC!
  • Finish your meal!


So, there you have it, all the information you need to know about imperative sentences along with suitable examples. Should you have any further queries, please feel free to mention them in the comments section.

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