A definition of Imperative verbs together with examples

Imperative Verbs Guide And List With Example Sentences

If you’ve ever received an instruction, followed a recipe, or even played a game, chances are you’ve encountered imperative verbs. These verbs are fundamental in the English language, particularly when it comes to delivering clear, concise commands or requests. As a teacher or an English language learner, understanding and mastering the use of imperative verbs can significantly enhance communication skills and fluency.

Below, we will explain what imperative verbs are and provide an extensive list of imperative verbs together with example sentences so that you can fully understand how to use these verbs naturally when communicating in English. We will also suggest some strategies and ideas for teaching and learning these essential elements of English grammar. First, let’s take a look at what imperative verbs are.

What Are Imperative Verbs?

Imperative verbs are verbs that create imperative sentences, which give commands, instructions, or express requests or directives. These verbs essentially tell someone to do something.

A picture of a teacher saying the imperative sentence 'Open your books, please'

Here are some key features of imperative verbs:

  • They often omit the subject of the sentence. For example, “Go to the store.
  • The verb usually comes at the beginning of the sentence. In the example “Go to the store,” “go” is the imperative verb.
  • They can express more than just orders. Depending on the context, imperative verbs can be used to give advice (“Take a break. You look tired.“), make invitations (“Join us for dinner“), give directions (“Turn left at the next corner“), or make requests (“Please sit down“).
  • They use the base form of the verb. For example, we say “Look out!” not “Looks out!” or “Looking out!
  • They can be made negative by adding “do not” or “don’t” before the verb. For example, “Do not touch” or “Don’t touch.

Imperative verbs are very common in English conversation and writing, especially in procedural writing, instructional manuals, recipes, and more. They’re a direct and concise way to communicate an action that needs to be done.

Why Learn About Imperative Verbs?

Learning about imperative verbs is important for English language learners for several reasons:

  • Understanding Commands and Instructions: Many of our daily interactions involve instructions or requests that use imperative verbs. For example, “Open the door,” “Please sit down,” “Don’t run in the hallway,” etc. Knowing imperative verbs can help learners understand these directions.
  • Giving Commands and Instructions: Conversely, learners will also need to use imperative sentences to give instructions or make requests. Whether in a school setting, at work, or in daily life, it’s important to be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Language Fluency and Versatility: Imperative verbs are a key part of the English language. Understanding them can help learners become more fluent and versatile in their use of the language. They will be able to use language more effectively in a variety of contexts.
  • Understanding Written Instructions: Imperative verbs are often used in written materials like recipes, instruction manuals, road signs, and more. Being familiar with them can help learners navigate these materials with ease.
  • Cultural Understanding: In some cultures, direct orders might be considered rude, but in others, they’re simply a straightforward way of communicating. Understanding when and how to use imperative verbs can help language learners navigate cultural expectations and norms in English-speaking societies.
  • Improving Writing Skills: Knowing how to use imperative verbs can also improve a learner’s writing skills, particularly in genres that rely heavily on instructions or commands, like procedural writing, business communication, technical writing, etc.

Imperative Verbs List With Example Sentences

Here is a useful list of imperative verbs together with example sentences. These can be used in a wide range of situations to give instructions, orders, or requests.

Imperative VerbExample Sentence
GoPlease go straight at the next intersection.
ComeCome here quickly.
SitSit down and relax.
StandStand up when the teacher enters.
RunRun for the bus!
WalkWalk carefully on the icy sidewalk.
EatEat your vegetables.
DrinkDrink plenty of water every day.
ReadRead the instructions carefully.
WriteWrite a summary of the chapter.
ListenListen to the lecture.
SpeakSpeak clearly and confidently.
WatchWatch the news for weather updates.
WaitWait your turn.
DriveDrive safely in the rain.
CookCook the pasta for 10 minutes.
StopStop at the red light.
TurnTurn off the lights when you leave.
OpenOpen the window for some fresh air.
CloseClose the door quietly.
PushPush the door to open it.
PullPull the drawer to find the documents.
StartStart your assignment early.
FinishFinish your homework before watching TV.
FollowFollow the rules.
MoveMove to the side to let others pass.
BringBring your ID to the exam.
LeaveLeave the room clean.
WashWash your hands before meals.
StudyStudy for the test next week.

How To Teach Imperative Verbs

Teaching imperative verbs can be really fun for both students and teachers. Here are some teaching tips and activity ideas for teaching imperative verbs.

Teaching Tips:

  • Contextualize: Always provide context when teaching imperatives. It’s more beneficial to students when they can see how these verbs are used in real-life situations.
  • Simplify: Start with basic and common imperative verbs, like “come,” “go,” “stop,” “listen,” etc. Then, progressively introduce more complex ones.
  • Include Negative Form: Don’t forget to teach the negative form of imperative verbs. It’s important for students to understand the difference between sentences like “Do your homework” and “Don’t do your homework.
  • Connect with Body Language: Especially for beginners, connecting verbs with gestures can be very helpful. For instance, when teaching the word “stop,” you might show a hand signal that indicates stopping.

Activity Ideas:

  • Role Play: This is a great way for students to practice imperative verbs. They can take turns giving and receiving instructions in different scenarios, such as in a restaurant, at home, at school, etc. More Role Play Ideas
  • Simon Says: This game is perfect for teaching imperatives. The teacher gives commands like “Simon says touch your nose,” and students only respond when the phrase starts with “Simon says.” How To Play Simon Says
  • Classroom Commands: Have students practice imperative verbs by giving classroom commands. For example, “Open your books,” “Close the door,” “Pick up the trash,” etc.
  • Cooking Class: Use a recipe to demonstrate imperative verbs. Students can follow a simple recipe using instructions written in the imperative, like “Chop the onions,” “Boil the water,” etc.
  • Road Signs: Use images of road signs to teach imperative verbs like “stop,” “yield,” or “do not enter.” Discuss why these instructions are important and what could happen if they’re not followed.
  • Writing Activity: Have students write a set of instructions for something, like a game, a daily routine, or a guide for a new student. This way, they can practice using imperative verbs in a meaningful context.

More Verb Resources

Thanks for reading! I hope you found this article useful. Before you go, check out these other resources for learning and teaching about the different kinds of English verbs.

Descriptive Verbs
Analytical Verbs
Verbs Of Perception
Stative Verbs
Irregular Verbs List

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