Imperative Mood

French imperative
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It’s imperative that you understand the imperative mood if you want to

  • give orders
  • make requests
  • express desires
  • provide recommendations
  • offer advice
  • prohibit actions

Affirmative commands

When telling someone to do something, you’re giving an affirmative command.

Par exemple…

Arrêtez !   Stop!
Fais tes devoirs !   Do your homework!
Prenez soin de vous.   Take care of yourself.

Vouloir is used in the imperative for an especially polite order:

Veuillez patienter ici.   Please wait here.
Veuillez vous asseoir.   Please sit down.

Negative commands

Logically enough, telling someone not to do something is a negative command.

Par exemple…

Ne parle pas si fort.   Don’t speak so loudly.
Ne soyons pas en retard.   Let’s not be late.

Word order

Word order with negative commands follows the same rules as virtually* all other verb tenses and moods:

  • Ne precedes the verb and pas or another negative word follows it.
  • Any object, reflexive, and adverbial pronouns go between ne and the verb.

Par exemple…

Ne le regarde pas.   Don’t look at him.
Ne nous en parlez pas.   Don’t talk to us about that.

Lesson: Double pronoun order

  * Affirmative commands are the only French verb form that requires a different word order. Instead of preceding the verb, the pronouns follow it and are connected by hyphens.

Par exemple…

Parle-lui.   Talk to him.
Montrez-le-nous.   Show it to us.

As with all other verb constructions, when the object and reflexive pronouns me and te are followed by the adverbial pronouns en or y, they contract with those words.

Par exemple…

Parlez-m’en.   Talk to me about that.
Mets-t’y.   Stand there.

  Me and te use their stressed forms, moi and toi, in the affirmative imperative when they are at the end of the verbal construction.

Par exemple…

Parle-moi.   Talk to me.
Accroche-toi.   Hang on.

 Imperative Quizzes

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on the French imperative with these fill-in-the-blanks exercises:

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take these tests. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 Related lessons

French lesson plans French lesson plans

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