French Imperative Mood

Introduction to the French imperative

What is the Imperative?

The imperative, called l'impératif in French, is a verb mood which is used to give an order, to express a desire, to make a request, to offer advice or to recommend something.

What is a Verb Mood?

Mood refers to the verb forms that indicate the attitude of the speaker toward the action/state of the verb; that is, how likely or factual the speaker believes the statement to be. The French language has three personal verb moods.

Modes personnels (Personal moods)

Personal moods make a distinction between grammatical persons; that is, they are conjugated.

1.Indicatif (Indicative) Indicates a fact - the most common mood.

2.Subjonctif (Subjunctive) Expresses subjectivity, doubt, or unlikelihood.

3.Impératif (Imperative) Gives a command.

How is the Imperative formed?

There are three forms of the imperative: tu, nous and vous. For all verbs, the imperative is formed by taking the corresponding forms of the present indicative, but without subject pronouns. The lack of a subject pronoun is what identifies the imperative mood.
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The tu form is used to give an order to a child or when the speaker is on familiar terms with the person addressed. The vous form is used to give an order to a group of people or to address one person in the vous form. The nous form is used to give an order that involves oneself as well as others, though it often expresses a suggestion as its translation (Let's ... ) indicates.

*Drop the final s in the tu forms of the imperative for -er verbs, including aller.

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What about negative commands?

The forms of the affirmative imperative (an order to do something) have been presented in the above charts. Innegative commands (an order not to do something), place the ne ... pas around the imperative, as in Ne regarde pas ('Don't look'). Think "verb sandwich"!