Linguistic encyclopedia

The Imperative mood

Дай, пожалуйста, эту книгу. – Give me this book, please.
Не курите здесь, пожалуйста. – Please don’t smoke here.

Usage

The imperative mood is used to ask for something, to give advice or to give an order.

There are two forms of the imperative: the second person singular (ты) and the second person plural (вы):

Иди! (Go! – to a friend, a child etc.) Идите! (Go! – polite form, or plural)

Formation

  • The second person singular imperative form (the «ты» form): use the stem of the third person plural of the present tense for imperfective verbs, or the third person plural of the future tense for perfective verbs.
Last letter of the stem Stress for the first person singular Imperative
a vowel
игра-ют
does not matter + й
играй
a consonant
пиш-ут
stress on the last syllable
пишу
+ и
пиши
a consonant
став-ят
stress not on the last syllable
ставлю
+ ь
ставь
two consonants
молч-ат
does not matter + и
молчи
  • The second person plural imperative form (“вы” form): the singular imperative + -те.

Example

Смотри! → Смотрите! (Look!)
Читай! → Читайте! (Read!)
Сядь! → Сядьте! (Sit down!)

  • Verbs which end in -ся:

Add -ся after a consonant: занимайся (second person singular), познакомься (second person singular)
Add -сь after a vowel: занимайтесь (third person plural), познакомьтесь (third person plural), вернись (second person singular), учись (second person singular)

  • The imperatives of verbs prefixed by вы-:

The imperative of the verb without prefix (учи) + prefix (выучи).

Some exceptions

пить (to drink) → пей
лить (to pour) → лей
давать (to give) → давай
вставать (to get up) → вставай
шить (to sew) → шей
бить (to beat) → бей
есть (to eat) → ешь → ешьте
узнавать (to recognize) → узнавай

Negative Imperatives

When used with the negative particle “не” the imperfective and perfective of imperatives convey different meanings:

не + imperfective imperative forbids, advices against an action etc.

Не гуляй в парке ночью. – Don’t walk in the park at night (because it is dangerous)
Не ешь мороженое, если у тебя болит горло! – Don’t eat an ice cream if you have a sore throat!

не + perfective imperative gives an urgent warning

Осторожно, не упади! Скользко. – Be careful, don’t fall! It’s slippery.
Не забудь позвонить мне сегодня вечером! – Don’t forget to call me this evening!




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