An ELT Glossary : Imperative

  • The base form of the verb can be used with imperative ( ie "commanding" ) force. For example: Stop doing that! /  Be quiet! /  Please go away!  / Look what you've done!

  • Imperatives never have perfect aspect but may have progressive aspect – eg Be waiting there at 3pm.

  • To form the negative, the "dummy operator" Do is used, followed by the negative particle not and infinitive: Do not disturb. /  Don't be stupid. /  Don't look at me like that!

  • Do can also be used to add extra emphasis or force to an affirmative imperative, very often also preceded by Oh, in spoken English Do stop doing that! / Oh, do be quiet!/ Oh, do go away!

  • In all the examples above, the imperative force can be seen as expressing an order (eg Be quiet! / Do not disturb) or admonition (eg Look what you've done! Don't be stupid!). It expresses the wish or attitude of the person issuing the command. 

  • However, the imperative is also used to express "commands" which are for the benefit of the receiver :  Come in and take a seat.  /    Do help yourself.  / Lightly whip the cream... /  Don't worry.

        It therefore expresses functions such as:
    • invitations : Come in and take a seat. /  Do help yourself
    • instructions : Lightly whip the cream... 
    • reassurance : Don't worry.
        etc, rather than orders or admonitions.


Parrott, M. Grammar for English Language Teachers, Cambridge

(Remember that Amazon will often have used copies of the books you want which are much cheaper than the advertised price. It's always worth checking)