What is the imperative?
The imperative mood (or l'impératif) is primarily used to express commands. It is used for requests, directions, advice, and suggestions.
How do you conjugate the imperative?
Each verb has only three conjugations in the imperative. Conjugations are formed by taking the tu, nous, or vous forms of the present tense. Subject pronouns are not used in the imperative.
Let's go to the concert!
Allons au concert!
Note the first-person plural conjugation of aller in the imperative. The subject pronoun nous is not used, and the verb is conjugated just as it is in the present tense.
Do your homework
Fais tes devoirs
Note the second-person singular form of faire in the imperative, which is the same as its second-person singular form in the present.
(to multiple people) Drink some water!
Buvez de l'eau!
Note the second-person plural form of boire in the imperative, which is the same as the second-person plural form in the present tense.
Let's finish our work
Finissons notre travail
Note the first-person plural conjugation of finir in the imperative, which is the same as the first-person plural form in the present tense.
Give the chair to Marie
Donne la chaise à Marie
For -ER verbs in the imperative, the "s" is dropped from the second-person singular form of the present.
The tu forms of -ER verbs do not take the "s" from their tu forms in the present tense.
Open the box, please
Ouvre la boîte, s'il te plaît
For all verbs that are conjugated like -ER verbs (like ouvrir), the tu form in the present ends in -es, so in the imperative the "s" is deleted.
Talk about it
Before the pronouns en and y, the second-person singular imperative of -ER verbs takes an "s." In other words, the present tense tu form is used.
The tu form of aller in the imperative usually does not have an "s," but it does here before the pronoun y.
Know the truth
Sache la vérité
Note the irregular imperative of savoir. The nous form is sachons, while the vous form is sachez.
(to kids) Be good/well-behaved
Note the irregular imperative of être. The tu form is sois, while the nous form is soyons.
Have some patience
Aie de la patience
Note the irregular imperative of avoir. The nous form is ayons, while the vous form is ayez.
(formal) Please excuse me
The irregular imperative vous form of vouloir, veuillez, is commonly used to politely request something. It can thus be translated as "if you would be so kind (to)," "please," and "would you."
If you would be so kind to sit down
Veuillez vous asseoir
The imperative vous form of vouloir can be either voulez or the irregular veuillez. The tu form can be either veux or veuille. The nous form, voulons, is almost never used. The literal translation here would be "Want to excuse me."
Get up! Let's get up!
For reflexive verbs in the imperative, the reflexive pronoun comes after the verb, joined by a hyphen. The reflexive pronoun te becomes toi in the imperative.
Note how the basic negative construction ne... pas surrounds the verb in the imperative.
Never talk like that!
Ne parle jamais comme ça!
Note the use of the negative construction ne... jamais with the imperative.
Let's wash ourselves. Let's not wash ourselves
Lavons-nous. Ne nous lavons pas
In the negative imperative of reflexive verbs, the reflexive pronoun (nous in this case) comes before the verb.
You haven't finished your potatoes? Finish them!
Tu n'as pas fini tes pommes de terre? Finis-les!
Object pronouns are placed after affirmative commands, linked to the verb with a hyphen. The affirmative imperative is the only tense for which object pronouns go after the verb.
Give the book to Jean. Give it to Jean
Donne le livre à Jean. Donne-le à Jean
Note how the object pronoun comes after the affirmative command, linked to it by a hyphen.
The object pronouns me and te change to moi and toi after an affirmative command.
Note how the object pronoun me is changed to moi, and comes after the verb, joined to it by a hyphen.
Pass him the fork
Passez-lui la fourchette
Note how the object pronoun lui comes after the verb in the (affirmative) imperative.
(formal) Don't call me when I'm at work
Ne m'appelez pas quand je suis au travail
Recall that the affirmative imperative is the only tense for which object pronouns come after the verb. For negative commands, object pronouns are placed before the verb. Here, m' precedes the verb.
The apple? Don't give it to the baby!
La pomme? Ne la donne pas au bébé!
Note how the object pronoun (la) is placed before the verb, which is in the negative imperative.
Never talk to me like that!
Ne me parle jamais comme ça!
Because the verb is in the negative imperative, the object pronoun comes before the verb.
(formal) Pass me the stapler, please
Passez-moi l'agrafeuse, s'il vous plaît
Note how the imperative is used here to make a request.
Then, turn to the left
Ensuite, tournez sur la gauche
Notice how sur is used with the imperative of tourner to mean "to." Another option would be tournez à gauche -- "turn left."