In English language, there are four types of sentences based on the functions they perform. Imperative sentence is one among them. We have already learnt about imperative sentence, while learning about types of sentences. In this article we shall learn about them in more detail.
What is an imperative sentence?
Imperative sentence is a type of sentence that gives orders, directions, advice, instructions, demands or request.
- Keep silence.
- Stand still.
- Do your homes work.
In an Imperative sentence the base form of the verb is used. It is a second person form. In these sentences the subject is usually “you” mostly in the implied form. The “you” here is a stand-in for the audience, or whomever the speaker is speaking to. As this is understood by the audience, the subject is not specifically mentioned in the sentence and is implied.
- Stop fighting.
This imperative sentence begins with the verb “stop”. Through this sentence, a command is given. “You” is the subject of this sentence even though the word is explicitly not expressed. The audience can recognize it, because of the context.
The subject of an imperative sentence is not always omitted. We must mention the subject, “you” when it contrasts with another person.
- Jack will guard these boxes here. You go and bring the remaining boxes too.
“You” will make a command more emphatic.
- You be careful while you select the words.
The negative “don’t” comes before the subject, “you”, to give the sentence more emphasis.
- Don’t you stare at me like that.
In some cases, some phrases can take the place of “you”.
- All of you go to your classes.
- Everyone stop what you are doing and listen to me carefully.
Uses of Imperative sentences
The basic use of an imperative statement is to give order and get something done by someone. The one who gives the order has the authority to do so and he/she expects that the order will be obeyed.
- Manager to clerk: Keep all your records up to date in two days.
- Father to son: Don’t go out without my permission
- Mother to daughter: Clean your room.
Above orders can be made less abrupt as indicated below.
You must keep your records up to date in two days.
You must take my permission before going out.
You must clean your room.
Other uses of imperative sentences are slogans and advertisements, suggestions and advice, warnings and reminders, instructions and directions, informal offers and invitations, and good wishes.
- Save water, save life (slogan)
- Gain from our perspectives. (Advertisement)
- Visit Eifel Tower. (Suggestion)
- Buy a good dictionary. (advice)
- Beware of pickpockets. (warning)
- Don’t forget your ATM card. (reminder)
- Dry wash only (instruction)
- Turn left. (direction)
- Have a cup of coffee with me. (informal offer)
- Do come to our house tomorrow and have lunch with us. (Invitation)
- Have a nice day. (Good wishes)
In order to make the imperative sentences more emphatic, the question tags, will you? won’t you?, would you?, can you , can’t you?, and could you? can be used. But the usually used question tags are” will you?” and “won’t you?”
We can use the positive tag, “will you?” after a positive imperative sentence when the sentence is in the normal sense. Similarly, in the case of a negative imperative sentence, if the sentence is in the normal sense, we can use the negative question tag, “won’t you?”
In case the sentences are in the serious sense, “won’t you?” must be used with the positive imperative sentence and the positive question tag, “will you?” must be used with the negative imperative sentence.
A. Normal sense
Come out, will you?
Don’t open the door, won’t you?
B. Serious sense
Come out, won’t you? (The speaker urgently wants the person inside to come out. Therefore, he is speaking in serious sense and then “won’t you?” must be used with the positive imperative sentence, “Come out”.)
Don’t open the door, will you? (There may be some serious problem outside. Therefore, the speaker does not want the person inside to come out. Therefore, he is speaking in serious sense. Then the question tag to be added with the negative imperative sentence is, will you?)
1. Sometimes it may not be possible to understand if the situation is normal or serious in such doubtful case, normal sense must be assumed as correct and question tags must be put accordingly.
2. At the same time if it is certain that there is serious sense, then negative question tags must be attached with positive imperative sentence and positive question tags with negative imperative sentence.
3. In warnings, reminders and good wishes, the negative tag, “won’t you?” must be added with positive imperative sentences and the positive tag, “will you?” must be added with negative imperative sentences.
4. In offers and invitations the tag can be either “will you?” or “won’t you”
Use of imperative sentence will add depth to our writing. We can utilize them in academic papers too. A suitable imperative sentence can be used as the title of an article.