Definition and Examples of the Imperative Mood in English

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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In English grammar, the imperative mood is the form of the verb that makes direct commands and requests, such as "Sit still" and "Count your blessings."

The imperative mood uses the zero infinitive form, which (with the exception of be) is the same as the second person in the present tense.

There are three major moods in English: the indicative mood is used to make factual statements or pose questions, the imperative mood to express a request or command, and the (rarely used) subjunctive mood to show a wish, doubt, or anything else contrary to fact.


From the Latin, "command"


  • "Save Ferris." (Slogan in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986)
  • "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." (Philo of Alexandria)
  • "Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity." (Christopher Morley's final message to friends, colleagues, and readers, published in The New York Times after his death on March 28, 1957)
  • "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your own wings on the way down." (Ray Bradbury, Brown Daily Herald, March 24, 1995)
  • "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." (attributed to President Abraham Lincoln)
  • "Roar, roar, roar, Henderson-Sungo. Do not be afraid. Let go of yourself. Snarl greatly. Feel the lion."(Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King. Viking, 1959)
  • "Touch the great artery. Feel it bound like a deer in the might of its lightness, and know the thunderless boil of the blood. Lean for a bit against this bone. It is the only memento you will leave to this earth. Its tacitness is everlasting. In the hush of the tissue wait with me for the shaft of pronouncement. Press your ear against this body, the way you did when you were a child holding a seashell and heard faintly the half-remembered, longed-for sea." (Richard Selzer, "The Surgeon as Priest." Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery. Simon & Schuster, 1976)
  • "Let the river rock you like a cradle
    Climb to the treetops, child, if you're able
    Let your hands tie a knot across the table.
    Come and touch the things you cannot feel.
    And close your fingertips and fly where I can't hold you
    Let the sun-rain fall and let the dewy clouds enfold you
    And maybe you can sing to me the words I just told you,
    If all the things you feel ain't what they seem.
    And don't mind me 'cause I ain't nothin' but a dream.
    (lyrics by Jerry Merrick, sung by Richie Havens, "Follow")
  • "Shut up, Brain, or I'll stab you with a Q-tip!" (Homer Simpson of The Simpsons)
  • "Never give in . Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." (Winston Churchill)
  • "Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights.
    Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight." (Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up!")
  • "Just do it." (Nike advertising slogan)
  • "Come in, then. Don't stand staring. Close that door quick! Hustle! Don't scrape your feet on the floor. Try to look intelligent. Don't gape." (P.G. Wodehouse, Something Fresh, 1915)

Pronunciation: im-PAR-uh-tiv mood

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Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and Examples of the Imperative Mood in English." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 27). Definition and Examples of the Imperative Mood in English. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and Examples of the Imperative Mood in English." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).