Imperative mood – mode impératif

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Let's Define It!

What's the *imperative*?

The imperative is a mood.

L'impératif, as it's called in French, is used mainly to:

  1. issue commands (give an order) ---> Dites la vérité! (Tell the truth!)
  2. give instructions. --> Prenez un comprimé deux fois par jour. / Take a tablet twice a day.
  3. make a polite request --> Ouvrez la fenêtre, s'il-vous-plaît

Often, a clause including a verb conjugated in the imperative mood will take an exclamation mark at the end. Don't overuse it, though. It won't be necessary unless you're making an exclamation such as Arrêtez-vous! (Stop!) Cours! (Run!) or Buvez cela maintenant! (Drink this now!)

Three persons only are used to make the imperative: tu, nous, and vous.

Conjugating a verb in the imperative is actually very easy. The conjugation follows that of the simple tense, except that for -er verbs (le premier groupe), and some 3rd-group verbs, the last -s is dropped in the tu form. Marche lentement! (walk slowly)

If a command is expressed in the affirmative form, the object pronoun comes after the verb and both are joined by a hyphen. comprends-moi (understand me), donnez-nous cet argent (give us this money)

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Let's Pronounce It!

What does it sound like in French?

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Let's Have an Example or Two!

Can a little reinforcement do the trick?

Here are a few sentences in the imperative mood.

  • Prenez votre médicament aux heures indiquées (take your medication at the prescribed time)
  • Offre-lui un cadeau (offer him/her a present)
  • Viens chez moi ce soir.

 

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What did you learn?