What is an Imperative Verb? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Bossy Verbs
  • 0:37 Characteristics
  • 1:15 Examples
  • 2:23 Uses of Imperative Verbs
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lindsey Hays

Lindsey has taught Elementary Education, Spanish immersion, and ESL. She has a MS in Elementary Education with a BA in Spanish.

Imperative verbs instruct people to do something. They come at the beginning of sentences that are commands. Come, read this lesson, and learn about imperative verbs!

Bossy Verbs

Do you ever wish you had a robot to do some of your chores for you? Think of what kind of commands you would want to give it. ''Clean my room,'' ''Do my homework,'' ''Wash the dishes!'' These sentences all use imperative verbs.

An imperative verb is an action word that gives a command. We use imperative verbs in sentences in which you tell someone what to do. If you seem bossy when you read a sentence, it often has an imperative verb in it! In this lesson, we'll look at imperative verbs and some examples.

Characteristics

Imperative verbs command others to do something, so many people playfully call them, ''bossy verbs.''

They come at the beginning of imperative sentences in the present, simple form - the base form of a verb.

Imperative verbs can also be paired with the word ''don't'' with the same use of the verb. So, we can say, ''Talk loud when you present your project,'' or ''Don't talk while someone else is presenting.''

They can also be paired with the word, ''please.'' We can say, ''Get me some water,'' or ''Please, get me some water.'' The word ''get'' in this sentence is still an imperative verb, even though it doesn't start the sentence.

Examples

Let's take a look at this short list of imperative verbs:

  • Bake
  • Bring
  • Clean
  • Do
  • Move
  • Open
  • Shut
  • Tell
  • Throw
  • Wash
  • Write

We use each of these verbs in the base form. For example, the word ''bake'' changes forms in the past and future, ''baked,'' and ''will bake.'' We add an ''s'' if we talk about someone who does it in the present, like, ''She bakes cookies every day.''

When we tell someone to bake or instruct them to do so, however, we use the base form, ''bake.'' We would never say, ''Bakes the cake,'' or, ''Baked the cake.'' Instead we say, ''Bake the cake.''

Other examples of imperative verbs in use include:

  • Don't forget to wash your hands before heading back to work. (forget)
  • Drive slowly on the interstate. (drive)
  • Turn here. (turn)
  • Finish your work. (finish)
  • Play nicely. (play)

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