Imperative Sentences

Imperative Sentences

An imperative sentence gives a direct command. It can end in a full stop or an exclamation mark, depending on the forcefulness of the command.

Easy Examples of Imperative Sentences

  • Tidy your room!
  • Please tidy your room.
  • Shut up!
  • Please keep the noise down.
  • Consider the lily.

Real-Life Examples of Imperative Sentences

Forceful commands end with an exclamation mark.
  • Get out!
  • Watch your mouth, young man!
Polite or gentle commands end with a full stop.
  • Pass the pepper.
  • Don't forget to feed the pony.
Commands in the form of advice also end with a full stop.
  • Don't count the days. Make the days count. (Boxer Muhammad Ali)
  • Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. (Philosopher Dandemis)
Be aware that not every sentence that ends with an exclamation mark is an imperative sentence. Exclamatory sentences, which are used to deliver a jolt of emotion, end in exclamation marks too.
  • I came first, Lee!
  • (This is an exclamatory sentence conveying the emotions of joy and surprise.)
  • Shut up!
  • (Of course, this could be an imperative sentence, but this expression is also used to mean "no way!", in which case it's an exclamatory sentence expressing surprise. You'll know from context, not the exclamation mark, whether the person is being hostile or astonished.)

Why Should I Care about Imperative Sentences?

When writing an imperative sentence, be mindful of how much force an exclamation mark adds.
  • Be there at seven.
  • Be there at seven!
Never use more than one exclamation mark! (That point is nearly worth two exclamation marks, but, actually, nothing is.)

Also of note, the subject of an imperative sentence is an implied "you" (either singular or plural). This means you can pair your verb with yourself or yourselves, if necessary.
  • Please help yourself, mate. [correct]
  • (Here, the implied you is singular. Please (you) help yourself.)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, please chat among yourselves. [correct]
  • (Here, the implied you is plural. Please (you) chat among yourselves.)
You cannot, however, pair your imperative verb with any other words of that type, e.g., myself, himself, herself, and ourselves. (These are known as reflexive or emphatic pronouns.)
  • Please contact your manager or myself with any suggestions. [wrong]
  • (It should be me not myself.)
  • Allow myself to introduce…myself. [wrong]
  • (This is from "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery". Only the first myself is wrong. It should be me not myself.)
(This is covered more in the entries on reflexive pronouns and emphatic pronouns.)

Key Points

  • You can only pair your imperative verb with yourself or yourselves.
    • Knock yourself out. [correct]
    • Do it yourself. [correct]
    • Please email Irene or myself. [wrong]
    • (Should be me.)
  • Never use more than exclamation mark.
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