Learn About the Imperative Sentence Now

The written word is a marvelous thing.  We could discuss the reasons why all day long, but for our purpose here suffice it to say that through the written word we can express different thoughts and emotions.  We do this simply through the words we choose and how we string them together in a sentence.  Each type of sentence can express a different emotion or desire.

Let me give you an example…

Suppose you’re going to be late coming home and need to remind a family member the dog needs to be fed at a certain time.  What do you do?  The easiest course of action is to write a note before you leave the house that says, “Please feed the dog at 5 o’clock.” That written sentence leaves no doubt as to what you want to happen – you’re clearly issuing a request and you’re using an imperative sentence to do it.

Make Your Request Known

An imperative sentence issues a request, gives a command, or expresses a desire or wish. They differ from sentences that make a statement (declarative sentences), express strong feeling (exclamatory sentences), or ask a question (interrogative sentence).

Typically, an imperative sentence is short and simple, but they can be long, compound or complex sentences as well.  Some of the simplest sentences in the English language are actually an imperative sentence consisting of a single verb. Like this…

  • Stop!
  • Go.
  • Hurry!

Depending on the strength of emotion you want to convey, either a period or exclamation mark punctuates an imperative sentence.

Examples Of an Imperative sentence

Imperative Sentence Example 1: Pour me a glass of water.

Imperative Sentence Example 2: Leave the package at the door.

Imperative Sentence Example 3: Take me to the library.

Imperative Sentence Example 4: Walk through this door and turn left at the next hallway.

Imperative Sentence Example 5: Come over here, look at this specimen, and tell me what you think.

Imperative Sentence Example 6: Put that down now!

Imperative Sentence Example 7: Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Though it may be considered more polite to use the word “please” in an imperative sentence, it’s not necessary.  Without the word attached the imperative sentence is still grammatically correct.

The Stuff Great Ads Are Made Of

Though you won’t see an imperative sentence as frequently as declarative sentences, chances are you’ll see them quite a bit when thumbing through magazines.  Or when you’re on the highway driving past billboards or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  That’s because an imperative sentence is often used as a catchy slogan for ads and bumper stickers.

Have you ever seen this kind of imperative sentence before?

Imperative Sentence Example: Honk if you like my driving.

Imperative Sentence Example: Don’t worry, be happy.

Imperative Sentence Example: Have a Coke and a smile.

Imperative Sentence Example: Just do it.

You’ll also come across the imperative sentence in great literature as well.  Actually, the 10 commandments of the Bible are all stated as an imperative sentence.

  • Honor thy father and mother.
  • Do not kill.
  • Do not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Each imperative sentence here makes a command…which is the reason why they’re called the 10 Commandments.

Subjects of an Imperative sentence

Though the subject usually isn’t obvious in an imperative sentence, it’s there.  The subject is always in the second person and is always the word “you”. In the imperative sentence examples used earlier the subject isn’t written but is implied.

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) pour me a glass of water.

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) leave the package at the door.

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) take me to the library.

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) walk through the door and turn left at the next hallway.

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) come over here, look at this specimen, and tell me what you think.

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) put that down now!

Imperative Sentence Example: (You) tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Imperative Verbs

Naturally, an imperative sentence contains verbs in the imperative form, meaning the purpose of the verb in the imperative sentence is to make a command.  Imperative verbs can take on other forms in different sentences, meaning they can be used as the object of a sentence, or as another verb form, as well.

Imperative Verb Form Non- Imperative Forms

Talk quietly.                                              There’s a lot of talk of a new restaurant.

Walk softly, please.                                   It’s just a short walk to the coffee shop.

Turn off the television.                               We took a wrong turn and got lost.

Hang up your clothes.                               There is nowhere to hang your hat.

Clean your room.                                        My job is to clean the table after dinner.

Use an imperative sentence to add more depth to your writing.  Even in academic papers, the imperative sentence has a place.  For instance, “Consider these findings.” or “Look at the facts.”  You can use an imperative sentence as a title or headline – the title of this article is an imperative sentence!  Did you notice?

View all our articles about sentence types.