Tips for Writing a Product Instruction Manual
For an instruction manual to be effective, it needs to be logically organized, easy to navigate through and written in clear language. People don’t typically read an entire user manual, according to Online-Learning. It’s more likely that users will pick up a manual looking for information about one specific detail.
When you’re writing a product or service manual, the target market for the product is the audience for the user manual. Keep your language in line with the average reading level of your target audience, and limit technical lingo unless you know the main readers are likely to have knowledge of industry-related terminology. For example, a user manual for operating a computer for an average person may explain basic details about how to operate it, while a user manual for a complex computer add-on may be geared toward a user with advanced technical knowledge. Overall though, keep sentences short and simple. Focus on explaining how to use the product in a way that answers common questions about it.
Use Short Headings
Headings that are highlighted with bold lettering make it easy for users to scan through sections of the manual and find specific information. It’s best to choose one type of phrasing and use it throughout the manual, according to Microsoft. Try leading with a verb and then the details. For example, ‘Add the Headers’ and ‘Format Each Header the Same Way’ both lead with a verb and then the details, which makes it easier for users to follow the formatting and find the information needed.
Write in Active Voice
When you write a product user manual, you’re talking directly to the reader, according to Online-Learning. So, using language that skirts around a topic could be confusing to the reader. For example, if you’re trying to tell someone they need a Phillip’s head screwdriver, you would, ideally, say “You’ll need a Phillip’s head screwdriver” rather than “To complete this task properly, a Phillip’s head screwdriver may be needed.” When you make it clear who will be performing the task, it draws the reader in and makes the manual more relevant to the reader.
If you’re adding a step-by-step tutorial, you should number each step and begin each step with an imperative verb, according to Microsoft. Use full sentences and avoid fragmented sentences to make sure the message is clear. Hold each step-by-step procedure to seven or less steps, if possible, and keep each step as simple as possible. If you notice step-by-step sections getting too long, see if you can break them into more than one procedure to reduce the number of steps.
When to Use Right Angle Brackets
If you’re writing a user manual for something computer related, where the user may click through a series of steps, right angle brackets may be used shorten the commands and to indicate the click pattern, as noted by Microsoft. For example, directions with right brackets may look like this: Select Dashboard > User Accounts > Register New Account.
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Imperatives in English are used to do several things and seen in several places including:
- Don’t do that!
- Stop talking immediately!
- Sit with us.
- Come eat with us.
- Turn to page 20.
- Take your medicine when you feel sick.
- Be careful.
- Don’t sit down on the bench. It has wet paint.
- Think about it.
- Work hard if you want to succeed.
For example, for the verb “to run”, we can say, “ Run 20 laps right now!”
A few addition examples:
- Close the door.
- Clean your room.
- Take your medicine.
- Come in and sit down.
In English, the negative conjugation for the imperative is:
Do not (don’t) + base verb
You can use the negative imperative to tell someone not to do something, such as when something is against the rules.
- Don’t drive above the speed limit.
- Stop at the red light.
- Don’t smoke in the building.
- Do not open the door.
As stated earlier, you can use the imperative to give instructions.
Set the oven to 200 F and cook the chicken for 30 minutes.
However, there are times when you might find yourself wanting to give instructions for something that requires multiple steps. In these cases, you can use sequential words such as
- First, Second, Third…
For example, the instructions for cooking pasta might be as follows:
First, boil some water.
Then, place the pasta in the boiling water.
Next, let the water boil for 10 minutes.
After that, pour out the pasta and water into a colander.
Finally, mix marinara sauce with the pasta.
References [ + ]
- Grammar and vocabulary
- Grammar practice
Do you want to practise using imperatives in English?
- Read about the grammar.
- Play the games to help you practise.
- Print the activity sheet for more practice.
- Remember to leave a comment!
We can use imperatives to give orders and instructions.
Wait quietly before class. Be nice to your brother or sister. Don't forget your bag!
How to use them
The imperative is the same as the verb. We use the verb without you .
Help your parents at home. Play quietly!
For a negative order or instruction, use don't .
Don't run in the corridors. Don't be late!
Use please to be more polite.
Please put the plates on the table. Don't make so much noise, please .
WOW I GOT 100% SOO FUN soo that means i am good at english!
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Speak Better English Grammar
3 Ways to Use English Imperative Form - Giving Instructions + Examples
Updated: Nov 15
1. Speak the English Imperative Form: Giving Instructions, Advice, Directions etc.
Imperative giving instructions examples.
1. Sit on the mat.
2. Look straight ahead.
3. Breathe in.
4. Count to 5.
5. Breathe out.
2. When to Use the Imperative form
We use Imperatives sentences for giving instructions, advice or directions in English for example:
> street signs,
> instruction manuals,
> how to prepare, do or make something,
> tutorials etc.
i) Giving Step-by-Step Imperative Instructions Examples:
(a). To Make A Cup Of Tea:
1. Boil 2 cups water in pot.
2. Add tea leaves.
3. Reduce heat & simmer for 2 minutes.
4. Add milk. Let simmer till about to boil.
5. Turn off heat.
6. Pour and strain into cups.
*Notice how each Imperative Instruction step starts with a Verb (basic form)
b. How To Make A Cup Of Drip Coffee:
1. Add 10g ground coffee into dripper.
2. Pour 180ml hot water slowly over ground coffee.
3. Let it drip for 3-4 mins till complete
3) Imperative Command, Suggestion, Offer or Tell someone to do something
i) Giving Command Example Situation: the Imperative Form
Imperative Sentence Instruction / Command - Example Sentence:
> Put it down.
> Leave your wet umbrella outside.
> Come on in.
> Have some more water to drink.
> Log in with your email address.
ii) Giving Advice Example Situation: the Imperative Form
Imperative Advice Example Sentence:
> Take this medicine 3 times a day after meals.
> Stay in bed.
> Try to keep warm.
> Don't take alcohol.
> Check with your doctor if you still feel unwell.
iii) Giving Good Wishes & Encouragement Example Situation
Imperative Example Sentence:
> Have a safe trip. See you soon.
> Take care!
> Stay safe.
> Try your best.
> Send him my best wishes.
English Learning TIP!
> 3 things you can look out for when learning or reviewing your spoken English grammar:
1. What is the sentence pattern?
2. In what situation do you use?
3. What tense do you use?
4. How to form the Imperative: Positive & Negative Sentences
Grammar Tip #1
- Look out for sentence patterns.
*Notice here that each sentence begins with an action verb in the basic form :
a. How to form the Imperative for Giving Instructions (Positive Sentence)
e.g. Telling someone how to cook rice:
1. Wash rice...
2. Add 2 cups...
3. Stir cooked rice...
4. Simmer for...
5. Serve warm.
b. How to form the Imperative (Negative Sentence)
> Do not / Don't + (Verb)
> Never + (Verb)
> Do not / Don't wash...
> Never wash...
5. How to form the Imperative: Using "Let" with me, us, him, her, it, them
Imperative with "let" Example Sentence
- us ('s) > Let's go!
- me > Let me talk to your parents.
- him/her > Let him go to the class party.
- it > Let it go... Let it go... (theme song from Disney's Frozen)
6. 2 Ways to Soften Imperative Sentence to make it sound more polite:
You can use Imperative Sentence with ' please ' and ' let's '
i. We add 'please' which can be either at the start or end of sentence.
a. (Positive) Example Sentence:
i) > Please tell me.
ii) > Tell me, please.
b. (Negative) Example Sentence:
- Don't put your bags on the table.
> Please do not put your bags on the table.
ii. By using ' Let's ' the speaker is including herself. This makes the command sound more like a suggestion.
- Imperative Instructions / Command: Let's + verb
- A teacher is telling the class...
- " Go to page 5."
> " Let's go to page 5."
- Do not go there.
> Let's not go there.
6. The Imperative - More Situation Example Sentence
6.1. Imperative Instructions
- to give step by step instructions: e.g. recipes, instruction manuals, etc.
Grammar Speaking Example #1
Read the 3 example sentences out loud.
Here, we use a real-world example seen on the reverse side of a bag of rice.
1. Wash rice under *running water.
2. Add 2 cups water for each cup of rice.
3. * Stir cooked rice and * simmer for 15 minutes.
Words / Meaning:
1. running water = water from a tap
2. stir = to mix with a spoon etc
3. simmer = very hot, but not boiling
Use with Adverbs of sequence to explain the order in which the steps happen:
Adverbs of sequence:
6.2. Giving Instructions Examples with Adverbs of Sequence
You can say:
1. First, wash rice under running water.
2. Next, add 2 cups water for each cup of rice and cook.
3. Then , stir cooked rice and simmer for 15 minutes.
*You can use then , next , after that , interchangeably (in any position).
So you can say:
1. First , wash rice under running water.
2. Then , add 2 cups water for each cup of rice and cook.
3. Next , stir cooked rice and simmer for 15 minutes.
Grammar Speaking Example #2
Read the instructions on an instant noodle packaging:
a. Imperative Instruction Examples
- How to Cook Instant Noodles
- Put noodles into 450ml of boiling water in a pot.
- Then boil and stir for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Drain away the water.
- Put noodles on a plate.
- Add seasoning powder and seasoning oil to the noodles.
- Mix well and serve immediately.
b. It's your turn. Practise speaking the Imperative form.
1. Look at the image on the right.
2. Give instructions on how to make a fruit sandwich.
Practise giving instructions on your own using:
i) Imperative Form
ii) the Adverbs of Sequence.
How to Make a Fruit Sandwich
(Imperative Verbs Word List you can use):
Practise giving instructions sentences out loud. Or write it down.
6.3. Use the Imperative Command / Offer / Request to offer someone something or tell someone to do something:
a. Imperative Offer
Example Situation / Sentence
1. * Have an apple. It's good for you.
2. Meet me at the cafe later.
3. Drop by the office when you have time.
4. Let me talk to him.
5. Take a seat. He'll be here soon.
*have = eat, drink
Go to >>Have or Have Got?+7 Different Uses For "Have" With Examples
7. Imperative Offer / Command / Request - Example Sentence
Emma & her grandma are talking...
Emma : Grandma, let me help you carry the basket. It's too heavy for you.
Grandma : Oh, all right. Thanks, sweetheart. Let's take these vegetables to
your mum. She wants to make a salad for our lunch.
Emma: Ok. Pass me the blue bag. Let me put these curry leaves in.
Grandma: Wow, they smell so good. Hurry up darling. I'm feeling hungry.
Emma: Haha, let's go.
*Let 's = Let us go
a. Imperative Command - Example Situation / Sentence
> Please be quiet!
> Don't look down!
> Walk a few steps.
> *Emily, write down your answer on the blackboard.
> *Tim, look out!
We don't usually include the Subject in the Imperative sentence. But you can use *noun & pronoun to make it it clear who we're speaking to.
*the subject can be at the start or end of the sentence.
i. Give me a high five, *Ben. Good boy!
ii. *Ben, give me a high five. Good boy!
i. Stay there!
ii. *You stay there! ( *you is used for emphasis)
8. More Example Sentence - Imperative Instructions / Suggestions / Directions
Lynn and her mum are talking in the kitchen...
Mum: Lynn, try this smoothie. What do you think?
Lynn: Yeah. Not too bad.
Mum: You don't like it?
Lynn: It's not sweet enough.
Mum: Ok . You have 2 choices: Put in a little honey. Or add the watermelon
Lynn: Mum, do both. I love a sweet smoothie!
Mum: Oh, Ok I'll do that. Ask your dad to come down for breakfast, please?
Wake your brother up. He is going to be late for school.
b. Imperative Instructions / Directions - Example Sentence
A mother & son are talking:
Josh: Mum,*should I take a train to the country farm?
Mum: Hmm...it'll take you 4 hours to get there. Take the morning express bus
to the town station. Then, get a taxi to the farm. It's *faster this way.
Josh: Is it far from the station?
Mum: No, it's just a short ride away. Don't forget to text me **the minute
(that) you see granny.
Josh: Sure, mum.
i. (Don't forget to + verb)
Go to >> Imperative Verb + Infinitive 'to' - Advice, Instructions & Suggestions
ii.*Should - Modal verb for advice or suggestions
i. Comparative Adjectives - fast > *faster >> the fastest
ii. (Idiom) ** the minute (that) = as soon as
- Put the kettle on the minute you reach home.
- Put the kettle on as soon as you reach home.
c. Imperative Good Wishes / Encouragement Sentence Examples
> Take your time.
> Well done. Keep it up!
> Start writing. Never give up.
A: My driving test is this afternoon.
B: Oh, good luck. Feeling nervous?
A: Yeah, a little.
B: Don't worry . You'll be OK.
A: Any advice for me?
B: Just relax and keep your eyes on the road.
b. Imperative Good Wishes
> Enjoy your movie!
> Have fun.
> Have a nice evening.
2 friends are texting...
Meg : My train leaves at 12.
Pip: Visiting your parents?
Meg: Yeah. Wish me luck.
Pip: All the best.
Pip: Send my best regards to your mum.
Meg: Will do.
Pip: Say hi to your dad for me.
Pip: Don't forget to tell your grandma I'll come visit in summer...
- 'll be (short form) = will be
9. Over to You!
It's your turn to speak the Imperative form.
Now, why don't you try to:
1. give instructions on how to make:
- a cup of tea/coffee,
- a piece of toast,
- a bowl of instant noodles or,
- any simple recipe that you know
Try to practise with the Adverbs of Sequence...
2. give directions on how to get to your home
3. give advice to someone who's starting to learn English
4. encourage / good wishes to someone who's taking an exam
Come on, write them down or say them out loud.
10. Vocabulary Recap
Let's review the new words you've learnt.
1. running water
e.g. My grandma lives in a house with no running water in a rural part of Indonesia.
e.g. His old apartment didn't have hot running water at all.
- Doreen stirs her coffee while reading the latest JK Rowling book.
- Don't forget to stir the soup before serving.
- Can you think of any other uses for the word "stir"? Make a list.
Translation of stir from the Cambridge English–Japanese Dictionary © Cambridge University Press. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-japanese/stir
Accessed 26 Sep 2020. Used by permission.
- You need to simmer the soup for another 20 minutes.
- Let the pot of curry simmer and then add a little salt.
- Check your dictionary for more examples of the word "simmer."
Translation of simmer from the Cambridge English–Japanese Dictionary © Cambridge University Press https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-japanese/simmer
Thanks so much for reading and Happy Speaking!
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The Imperative in English – Giving Directions, Suggestions, and Advice in English
The imperative is the form of the verb we use to give directions, instructions, suggestions, or advice. We also use it to give direct orders. The imperative is easy to form. We simply use the base form of the verb. In this posting I talk about how to form and use the imperative. There will be many example sentences. The download at the end will give you additional practice using the imperative.
Here is the lesson i taught on how to form the imperative in english.
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The imperative is very easy to form. It is simply the base form of the verb . Here are some examples:
To make the imperative negative, place the words ” do not ” or “ don’t ” in front of the base form of the verb .
Using the imperative to give instructions
Your boss may use the imperative when he gives you instructions at work. He/She may say, “ Work on this project until lunch time, and then go back to your regular work.” A cookbook uses the imperative as well, in the recipes it contains.
An owner’s manual uses the imperative when it tells you how to do something.
The imperative can be very forceful when you are angry or when you are giving a direct order, such as in the military.
Using the imperative to give advice
We also use the imperative to give advice or suggestions to someone. He or she is not required to do as we say, but we think it would be a good idea Here are some examples.
If we want to add emphasis, we often add the word,” just .”
Softening the imperative
The imperative can be very direct and forceful. Sometimes it does not feel very polite. Here are some words and expressions we can add to make it softer and more polite.
The imperative in some common traffic words and expressions
You now know that we use the imperative to give directions, suggestions, and advice. the imperative is the base form of the verb. we can make it negative, however, by adding “don’t” in front of the base form of the verb. we can also soften it and make it more polite by adding such words as please , let’s , why don’t we , or won’t you . the download will give you some additional practice using the imperative., study english imperative vocabulary from this lesson with these flashcards, idioms of the day, about the author.
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Imperative Sentences: What They Are, How to Use Them, and Examples
Do you have questions about imperative sentences?
Read this post to find answers.
It includes plenty of information.
It will make understanding imperatives easy!
If you’re really paying attention, you might have noticed that I included an example of each of the four sentence types in that post opener, including an imperative sentence . Read on to learn more and to see over 40 examples of imperative sentences!
What Are the Four Types of Sentences?
Is it an imperative or an exclamatory sentence, imperative or exclamatory test yourself, what are the functions of imperative sentences, who is the subject of an imperative sentence, how is the word imperative used in a sentence, imperatives are everywhere.
These are the categories for the four types of sentences: declarative, interrogative , exclamatory, imperative .
From these descriptions, see if you can determine which type is represented in the four sentences I used to open the post.
- Declarative sentences make a statement or express an opinion. They end with a period.
- Interrogative sentences ask a question and end with a question mark.
- Exclamatory sentences express powerful emotion—surprise, joy, anger, for example—and end with exclamation points.
- Imperative sentences make a command. They can end with a period or an exclamation point.
Take a moment to go back and evaluate the four sentences that opened the post. Then check your answers!
Answers: 1. Interrogative, 2. Imperative, 3. Declarative, 4. Exclamatory
Positive and Negative Imperative Sentences
The command given in an imperative sentence can be positive or negative , meaning it can be a “do” command or a “do not” command. In positive imperatives, the “do” is often implied, meaning the word “do” is not directly stated. In negative imperatives, the “do not” (or don’t) is stated directly.
Example 1: Positive : Jump in the pool! Negative : Do not jump in the pool!
Example 2: Positive : Slow down! Negative: Don’t drive so fast!
You’ve likely noticed that some of the imperative sentence examples I’ve given so far end with an exclamation point, but that doesn’t make them exclamatory sentences .
What’s the difference?
Imperative sentences always give commands. Exclamatory sentences don’t.
The purpose of exclamatory sentences is to express observations or make statements with extra emotional intensity, as indicated through that exclamation point. An exclamatory sentence isn’t a command.
The purpose of imperative sentences is to give commands. If the command comes with an exclamation mark, the mark is there to add urgency to that command. To soften the command, use a period. To add politeness, include a “please.”
Imperative Verbs and the Imperative Mood
While verb tenses tell us when a verb occurred or will occur (past, present, future, etc.), verb moods tell us how that verb is expressed.
One of the verb moods is the imperative mood , which is the mood that forms a command. Imperative verbs often start imperative sentences.
- Give that back!
- Clean your room.
- Please change the channel.
Yes, “Stop!” is a single verb and a complete sentence all on its own when it is used as a command. (If you’re confused, this will make more sense when you read on about the subject of imperative sentences, so keep going!)
The last example starts with “please,” but don’t let that word distract you. The purpose of the sentence is still to issue a command, and the imperative verb “change” leads that command.
Which of these sentences are examples of imperative sentences? Which are examples of exclamatory sentences? Give yourself bonus points if you can identify the movies examples 7–15 are from!
The rainbow is gorgeous!
Take a picture of the rainbow!
I missed the turn!
Don’t drink the water!
This water tastes disgusting!
They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!
Say hello to my little friend!
You’re gonna need a bigger boat!
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!
To infinity and beyond!
Run, Forrest, run!
(a) Look at me. (b) Look at me. (c) I am the Captain now!
Answers: 1. Exclamatory, 2. Imperative, 3. Exclamatory, 4. Imperative, 5. Imperative, 6. Exclamatory, 7. Exclamatory, 8. Imperative, 9. Exclamatory, 10. Imperative, 11. Exclamatory, 12. Exclamatory, 13. Exclamatory, 14. Imperative, 15. (a) Imperative (b) Imperative (c) Exclamatory Bonus points for the films: 7. Braveheart , 8. Scarface , 9. Jaws , 10. and 11. The Wizard of Oz , 12. The Shining , 13. Toy Story , 14. Forrest Gump , 15. Captain Phillips
The function of imperative sentences is to give commands, but that doesn’t mean they only do the work of drill sergeants or bossy older siblings. Imperative sentences, and the commands they give, have distinct tones and intents and generally fit into one of the following categories:
Invitation: Commands can be welcoming! When your friend says “Come over and swim in my pool tomorrow” they are issuing a generous command: an invitation.
Order: This would be the work of that bossy sibling. “Get out of my room!” or “Tell Mom I’ll be home later.”
Request: Think of this as a more polite order. A doctor’s office may leave a voicemail saying, “Please call us back at your earliest convenience” or send an email stating “Please use cash or credit card to pay your balance.”
Instruction: Learning how to bake at grandma’s house? She might say “Now mix in the chocolate chips,” as a command of instruction.
Advice or Warning: Good friends give honest advice—“Change your outfit”—and (hopefully) wise warnings: “Don’t go out with him (or her).”
Every sentence has a subject and verb, and expresses a complete thought. The verb tells us what the subject is doing or what state of being the subject holds.
- She owns the company. (declarative sentence)
Subject = She , verb = owns
- Johnny buckled his seat belt. (declarative sentence)
Subject = Johnny , verb = buckled
- The mountain is so high! (exclamatory)
Subject = mountain , verb = is
Imperative sentences, though, aren’t about a subject; they give commands to a subject. So who is that subject on the receiving end of the command?
The answer: “you.” In proper grammatical terminology, that subject is known as “you understood” and is written as (you) .
Let’s take the declarative sentence about Johnny and turn it into an imperative. Imagine you’ve loaded Johnny into his seat and say,
- “Buckle your seat belt, please.”
Subject = (you) , verb = buckle
And that same subject (you) would also be the subject for the sentence Stop!
But what if you had said, “Johnny, buckle your seat belt, please.” Is the subject now Johnny ?
Nope. Grammatically, the subject is (you) as it is for all imperative sentences, even if a specific audience is included in the statement.
- Everyone hide!
- Passengers, please remain seated.
- Don’t speak in that tone, Pat.
In each of these examples, as with almost all imperative sentences, the command is given from the second-person point of view—the speaker is talking to (you)—and the subject is simply (you).
So far, you’ve seen the word “imperative” used to define or label a type of sentence, and you know sentences categorized as imperative express urgent, or at least important, commands. The words “urgent” and “important” help clarify what “imperative” means when it is used in a sentence rather than to identify a type of sentence.
- an adjective that means “extremely important or urgent”
- a noun that means “something that needs to be done or given attention immediately”
- a noun identifying the grammatical mood of a verb (we’ve covered this one already)
Examples of the Word Imperative Used as an Adjective
- Food and water are imperative for survival.
- If you want to get better, taking your medicine is imperative.
- “It is imperative that the governing bodies take note of these findings and work together to protect athletes now and in the future.” ( Professor Rick Molloy in sciencedaily.com )
- “For me, it’s morally imperative that we raise the minimum wage to a living wage that’s at least $15 an hour.” (Bernie Sanders in The Guardian )
Examples of the Word Imperative Used as a Noun
- Ending gun violence is not an option, it is an imperative.
- Self-care is an imperative for those who want to live happy and healthy lives.
- “Sleep is not optional. It’s a health imperative, like eating, breathing and physical activity.” ( Dr. Judith A. Owens, The New York Times )
- “Minimum-wage workers and activists say $15 an hour is a moral and economic imperative.” (businessinsider.com)
And here’s a double-dipper just for fun:
- If you’re a drill sergeant, it is imperative that you know how to give imperatives.
If you still find that you’re not clear on all the definitions, ProWritingAid offers an easy fix. The Word Explorer is your one-stop for all things definitions, synonyms, examples, rhymes, collocations, quotes, and more. Request a free trial and try it today!
Imperatives comprise a significant amount of our everyday communication. We regularly use words to give orders, make requests, extend invitations, provide instruction, and offer advice.
You’ve probably said things today that reflect the commands given in some of these imperative sentences:
- Pass the TV remote.
- Turn up the music!
- Tell me more.
- Come over for tea.
- Read a book.
- Stop whining!
- Watch this!
Pay attention and you’ll quickly realize we are immersed in imperatives (that was one right there!). Listen to yourself and others (there’s another). Be aware as you read books, watch movies, and sing along to music (and another), and you’ll find imperatives everywhere.
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Allison Bressmer is a professor of freshman composition and critical reading at a community college and a freelance writer. If she isn’t writing or teaching, you’ll likely find her reading a book or listening to a podcast while happily sipping a semi-sweet iced tea or happy-houring with friends. She lives in New York with her family. Connect at linkedin.com/in/allisonbressmer.
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An imperative is one of the four main Sentence Functions in the English language and is most commonly used to give a command or instruction. Imperatives are sometimes referred to as a directive. There are four main Sentence Functions in the English language. They are Declaratives (e.g. The cat is on the mat), Imperatives (e.g. Get the…
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An imperative is one of the four main Sentence Functions in the English language and is most commonly used to give a command or instruction. Imperatives are sometimes referred to as a directive.
There are four main Sentence Functions in the English language. They are Declaratives (e.g. The cat is on the mat ), Imperatives (e.g. Get the cat off the mat ), Interrogatives (e.g. Where is the cat? ), and Exclamatives (e.g. What a cute cat! ).
Be careful not to confuse sentence functions (also referred to as sentence types) with sentence structures. Sentence functions describe the purpose of a sentence, whereas a sentence structure is how the sentence is formed ie simple sentences, complex sentences, compound sentences, and compound-complex sentences.
When we form imperative sentences, we use the Imperative Mood ; t he Imperative Mood is a Grammatical Mood that forms a command or request. Imperatives can be found everywhere, from recipes and user manuals to road signs and advertising; however, they are most common in everyday speech.
An imperative sentence is formed using a base Verb , such as stop , and usually has no subject. There is often no subject present in an imperative sentence because the subject is assumed to be you - the reader or the listener . Imperative sentences end in either a full stop (.) Or an exclamation mark (!), Depending on the urgency of the command.
To put it simply, an imperative tells you to do something.
Let's take a look at some common examples of imperative sentences. You'll notice that some sentences are very short, even one-word sentences, whereas others are longer and more complex. You may also notice that some sentences create a sense of urgency, whereas others have used the word 'please' to show politeness.
Here are some imperative sentence examples:
Close your book, please.
Try the other door.
Have a nice day.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes.
Join us for dinner.
Please bring your friends with you.
See if you can identify the purpose of each sentence. Note that the imperative verbs, such as join and bring , are in bold.
Not sure how to spot an imperative? Here are a few tricks. Typically, imperative sentences contain verbs that issue a command. Can you see a subject? Imperative sentences generally don't contain a subject.
How can I form an imperative?
As you can see from the imperative examples above, the typical form (structure) of an imperative sentence is a Verb without a subject. These verbs are called imperative verbs or 'bossy' verbs and are always in the Present Tense . This means we use the base form of the verb, e.g. give , have, go , and stop , and not to give, to have, to go, and to stop.
Each sentence is missing a subject because the subject (you) is implied. Take a look at this sentence as an example ' try the other door' . This sentence could also read ' You should try the other door' . However, the subject is obvious and has therefore been removed from the sentence.
Like most things in the English language, there are some exceptions to the rule. So, let's take a look at some imperative special cases.
Imperatives with a subject
Typically, an imperative doesn't have a subject as the subject is considered obvious. However, we can add a subject for emphasis, make the subject clearer, or demand attention.
Here are some examples of imperative sentences with the subject.
Look this way, everyone .
You stay here!
Imperatives with always, never , and ever
We can also use the words always , never , and ever when forming an imperative; they usually go before the verb in the sentence. These words are adverbs of frequency and can be used to add further information to an imperative.
Always look both ways before crossing the road.
Never press that button!
Don't ever speak to me like that!
Imperatives with do
We can add the word ' d o ' to the beginning of our imperative sentences to make the command appear more polite.
Do take a seat.
Do try and be a bit quieter, please.
What are the different types of imperative?
There are several different types of imperatives that all serve different purposes. Sometimes we use an imperative to warn someone of danger, and sometimes we use an imperative to simply wish someone a pleasant day. Let's take a look at some of the different types of imperatives and their uses.
Command or request imperatives
The command is one of the most commonly used imperatives. A command directly requests that someone does something or stops doing something. You can turn your command into a polite request by adding the word ' please'.
Stop climbing that tree.
Get down here now!
Please open the window.
Command imperatives are most commonly used in everyday speech. You will likely hear your parents and teachers using these kinds of imperative! Although, if you take a look at all the different signs around you, I'm sure you will spot many command imperatives.
An instruction imperative is similar to a command. However, a command is a direct order to do something, whereas an instruction gives information or knowledge the subject may want or need.
Turn the oven to 180 degrees.
Take the first street on the left.
Instruction imperatives are frequently used in both written and spoken English. They are commonly found in user manuals, recipe books, and road signs.
We can also use imperatives when offering advice to people.
Think about your decision carefully.
Consider taking an Uber home.
Wear your black shoes with that outfit.
Advice imperatives are most commonly used in everyday speech. You will most likely use them when talking with your friends and family.
This type of imperative extends an invitation to someone.
Join me for dinner.
Stay for a drink.
Please, take a seat!
These imperatives are used regularly in everyday conversation. You will also see them on, you guessed it, invitations!
Wish imperatives are sometimes referred to as unreal commands - this is because we use them to express hope rather than giving an actual command.
Enjoy your holiday.
Have a lovely meal!
These polite imperatives are well-wishing rather than commands. It is unlikely that the person who said “have a nice day” isn't demanding the subject does anything specific with their day - they are simply hoping it turns out to be a good one.
Warning imperatives are usually very short. They are used to warn others of danger or an incoming problem.
Warning imperatives are most commonly used in everyday situations and are usually unplanned.
Types of imperatives: further examples
Let's take a look at that list of example imperatives again. Did you manage to identify the purpose of each sentence correctly?
Look out! ( warning )
Close your book, please. ( request )
Try the other door. ( advice )
Have a nice day. ( wish )
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. ( instruction )
Join us for dinner. ( invitation )
Please bring your friends with you. ( request )
Stop! ( command)
What are some well-known examples of imperatives?
There are thousands of well-known examples of imperative sentences out there, from song lyrics and speeches to marketing campaigns and road signs. Let's take a look at a few of them:
You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. -
'I have a dream' - Martin Luther King Jr., 1963.
This speech has frequently been described as one of the most imperative speeches in American history. Here Martin Luther King Jr. uses imperative sentences to convey a sense of command and to give advice.
Get up, stand up (Oh yeah) stand up for your rights (Lord, Lord) Get up, stand up (In the morning) stand up for your rights (Stand up for your rights)
Get up, stand up (Stand up for your life) stand up for your rights (Stand up for your life) Get up, stand up (Stand up for your life) don't give up the fight! -
'Get Up Stand Up' - Bob Marley, 1973.
Here, the singer is using imperative sentences to instruct the audience to stand up for their rights. You will notice that, throughout the lyrics, there is no subject; this is because the subject is anyone listening to the song.
Just do it. -
This slogan from Nike is a fantastic example of a brand using an imperative to communicate directly with its customers. This slogan challenges us, and orders us to just do it!
Now you have seen some examples of imperative sentences, how many other famous examples can you think of?
Imperatives - key takeaways
An imperative is one of the four main sentence functions in the English language.
The main purpose of an imperative is to give a command.
An imperative sentence is formed using a base verb, such as stop or wait and typically has no subject.
Imperative sentences end with either a full stop or an exclamation mark.
An imperative sentence has six main purposes. The examples are: command or request, instruct, advise, invite, wish, and give warning.
Frequently Asked Questions about Imperatives
--> what is an imperative sentence.
To put it simply, imperative sentences tell people what to do. They can give commands, give instructions, offer advice, extend invitations, or give a warning.
--> What is an example of an imperative sentence?
Here are some examples of imperative sentences:
- 'Look out!'
- 'Come for dinner with me.'
- 'Stop chewing like that.'
--> What are imperative verbs?
An imperative verb (sometimes referred to as a 'bossy verb') tells someone to do something. Some examples of imperative verbs include stop, wait, come, go, and run.
--> What does 'imperative' mean in the English language?
Imperatives can have different meanings in the English language. Imperatives can be an adjective or a noun.
- As an adjective, it means absolutely necessary.
- As a noun, it means a command.
--> What is the imperative mood?
The imperative mood is a grammatical mood that forms a command or request.
Final Imperatives Quiz
Imperatives quiz - teste dein wissen.
What is the main function of an imperative?
To give a command.
Which two punctuation marks are used at the end of an imperative?
Full stop or exclamation mark.
The following sentence is an example of which type of imperative? 'Look out!'
An imperative sentence is formed using which one of the following?
B. Base verb
C. Modal verb
You are likely to find imperatives in a recipe book, true or false?
Which of the following is an example of a wish imperative:
A. Join me for dinner tonight.
B. Watch out!
C. Enjoy your meal.
Which of the following is an example of advice imperative:
A. Have a nice day.
B. Try oat milk instead.
C. Wait here.
B. Try oat milk instead.
The following sentence is an imperative, true or false?
'She told me not to sit there.'
This is an example of reported speech.
'Please open the door for me.'
This is a request.
How can we make commands more polite?
By using the words please or do .
What is the imperative mood?
A grammatical mood used to form a command or a request.
What does the word imperative mean?
Imperative can be an adjective or a noun.
As an adjective, it means absolutely necessary.
As a noun, it means a command.
What are imperative verbs?
An imperative verb (sometimes referred to as a 'bossy verb') tells someone to do something. Some examples include stop, wait, come, go, and run.
When forming interrogatives, do we use the base form of the verb or the infinitive form of the verb?
The base form
Identify the purpose of the imperative:
'Have a nice day'
'Try the other door'
What type of imperative is this:
'Join me for a drink'
'Think twice before saying yes'
True or false, imperatives never have a subject.
False. They can include subjects but often don't.
Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards
Identify the purpose of the imperative:'Look out!'
Identify the purpose of the imperative:'Have a nice day'
Identify the purpose of the imperative:'Try the other door'
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