Imperative Sentence Examples – Definition & Usage

One of the most important thing that language has given us is that it helps us in expressing the chaotic mess of our different thoughts and emotions into a comprehensive manner. With the use of combining words and forming it into sentences, we are already deciphering our thoughts and emotions to help us in communicating with other people.

There are four types of sentences which can help us in expressing our thoughts and feelings. These are declarative, interrogative, exclamatory sentences, and imperative sentences.

Supposing if we would like to give someone instructions on how to do a certain thing, which among the types of sentences should we use in order to do so? It’s rather simple– we make use of an imperative sentence.

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Defining Imperative Sentences

Basically, an imperative sentence tells you what to do and it is used to give a command, instruction, request, or advice.

An imperative sentence is very versatile since the punctuation mark placed at the end of each imperative sentence can be varied. Punctuation marks are varied because they solely depend on what kind of imperative the person giving the request or instruction uses. Imperatives are basically base verbs which are added to complete the request or instruction.

Imperative sentences can be written like any of the other sentence types. A period or a full stop (.) usually used for declarative sentences can be used for an imperative sentences. A question mark (?) mainly used interrogative sentences and an exclamation point (!) for exclamatory sentences can all be used for imperative sentences as well. Imperative sentences are also known as directives because it generally gives direction.

Identifying Imperative Sentences

Since there are three possible punctuation marks that can be used in ending an imperative sentence, some people find it tricky to distinguish an imperative sentence from a declarative, interrogative or an exclamatory one.

But the key to immediately identify an imperative sentence is simply to look at the verb being used. Does it issue a command? Does it ask a favor? Does it make any form of request? Does it give an instruction? If your answer is yes to any one of the questions then you have unlocked the first step in identifying an imperative sentence.

The next thing to look out for after identifying the verb is the subject used in the sentence. Most of the time, the subject of an imperative sentence is implied, thus, it is not stated or laid out obviously for you to identify. This is because imperative sentences are written to give a direct order. The subject is always implied in the second person which is you.

Take a look at these examples:

  • (You) come with me to church.
  • (You) take the package before you leave school.
  • (You) open up your deepest and darkest secrets with me.
  • (You) say my name again, will you?
  • (You) tell me what you think.
  • (You) stop playing with that campfire now!
  • (You) give your full name, please.

Imperative Sentences vs. Declarative Sentences

One key difference between imperative sentences and declarative sentences is the subject. Declarative sentences have a subject which is easily identifiable but imperative sentences have a subject which are only implied. Since imperative sentences are given directly, it is assumed that the person the imperative sentence is addressed to already has knowledge that he or she is the subject of the given directive.

For example:

Declarative sentence: Alex, pass the salt.

Imperative sentence: Pass the salt.

Imperative Sentences vs. Interrogative Sentences

Similar to declarative sentences, the difference between an interrogative sentence and an imperative sentence is the subject. If a sentence ends with a question mark (?) look for the subject of the verb; if it is implied then it is an imperative sentence.

This interrogative way of writing imperative sentences are like that of a tag question. Also known as a tail question, a tag question is a declarative or an imperative statement delivered in an interrogative manner. Tag questions are used in imperative sentences to give extra emphasis on the request or instruction.

One of the differences between imperative sentences and interrogative sentences is that interrogative sentences ask or pose a question but does not give any form of request, suggestion, or command like what an imperative sentences would do.

Interrogative sentence: Will you pass the salt, Alex?

Imperative sentence: Please pass the salt, will you?

Imperative Sentences vs. Exclamatory Sentences

An imperative sentences could express a strong emotion like that of exclamatory sentence. But just like the rest of the types of sentences, always look for the subject to see whether it is implied or not.

Exclamatory sentence: Alex, pass the salt!

Imperative sentence: Pass the salt!

 

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Modifying an Imperative Sentence

Imperative sentences are actually binary; meaning, the expected results of a directive could be either positive or negative.

One indication that the imperative used in the sentence is positive if it uses affirmative verbs while a negative imperative does otherwise.

Foe example:

Positive: Eat the cookies.

Negative: Do not eat the cookies.

Sometimes, the direct way of giving an imperative sentences can sound harsh or demeaning. But you can soften the delivery of the imperative by asking the request politely through adding the words do or just at the beginning of the sentence and please at the end of the sentence.

Softened imperatives: Just stay with me, please?

Types of Imperative Sentences

There are four types of imperative sentences.

a. Making a request or wish

This kind of imperative makes a request or a wish for someone in a more polite manner.

Examples:

  • Have fun at the party tonight!
  • Eat lots of vegetables.
  • Have a safe trip!
  • Do good at school.
  • Be kind to your neighbors.
  • Love your enemies.
  • Please, lock the door before you leave.
  • Change your clothes after playing games outside.
  • Please hand me the keys.
  • Pass the bowl of rice.

b. Giving an invitation

Imperative sentences can be used when you would want to extend an invitation in a way that you do not need to directly ask someone to come because the tone of an imperative sentence that gives an invitation already insists for you to accept the invitation.

Examples:

  • Come to the ball with me.
  • Please join our table during the ball.
  • Let’s go to the ball together as a group of friends.
  • Visit us at the venue where the ball will be held.
  • Join our dance group that will have a special performance during the ball.
  • Please join the after party of the ball.
  • Come and celebrate the festivities before the night of the ball with me.
  • Please go and meet me at the middle of the dance floor after you perform.
  • Attend the ball, will you?
  • Meet me outside the venue of the ball.

c. Giving a request or command

The difference between this type of imperative sentence versus the type of imperative sentence that gives a request or wish is that this type of request or command is given in a firmly manner.

Examples:

  • Don’t take things too seriously.
  • Take your medicines now.
  • Stop eating too much!
  • Go find the nurse quickly!
  • Stop this mess!
  • Look for the doctor!
  • Lock the door!
  • Tell her I need her right now.
  • Do not stall.
  • Run for your life!

d. Giving instructions

This is the common and usual type of an imperative sentence. Here is a recipe of baking a basic sugar cookie. Notice that every single step is using an imperative sentence.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. Set the mixture aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until the mixture becomes smooth.
  5. Beat in egg and vanilla along with the creamed butter and sugar.
  6. Blend in the dry ingredients.
  7. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls.
  8. Place the balls of dough on an cookie sheets that has no grease.
  9. Bake 8 up to 10 minutes, or until golden, in the preheated oven.
  10. Let it stand on the cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

 

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Other Functions of Imperative Sentences

Aside from the obvious fact that imperative sentences has the main function to give out directives, imperative sentences are also useful in literature, advertising and even in law-making. Imperative sentences are very much useful in our day-to-day lives.

In literature such as the bible, specifically in the chapter where the ten commandments is being narrated, most of the text are actually written as imperative statements.

  • Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  • Honor your father and your mother.
  • Do not kill.
  • Do not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

In advertising, imperatives are also prominent.

  • Buy one and save 50% on your next purchase.
  • Buy now while supplies last!
  • Taste the feeling. (Coca Cola trademark)
  • Have a break, have a KitKat. (KitKat trademark)
  • Just do it. (Nike trademark)

While you are riding or driving a car, you might see signs in the roads that are actually imperatives.

  • Do not enter.
  • Do not left turn.
  • Turn right when red light is on.
  • Do not U-turn.
  • Cross the pedestrian lane.

 

Knowing more about the types of sentences gives more depth and detail in our way of communicating with other people. With the proper usage, imperative sentences can be a tool for better understanding in our daily interactions and communication.

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