Commands and Instructions

1. Commands and the imperative

To command somebody is to decisively give orders or instructions, often with authority.

When giving commands, use the ‘imperative’ (the base form of a verb, without ‘to…’ or ‘…ing’).

2. Orders

Orders tell people to do something.

Come here!”Put the bins out on Tuesday night.
Stop doing that.”Meet him at 6 o’clock under the church tower. Wear a yellow tie so he knows it’s you.

3. Instructions

Instructions tell people how to do something.

Take two pills every 6 hours.Go along the street until you see a blue house, then turn left.
Connect part A to part B.Take the number 27 bus to Charing Cross, then change to the number 18.

4. ‘Don’t’

Simply add ‘don’t’ to order or instruct what not to do.

Don’t run!”Don’t look: it’s your husband!”
Don’t worry.”Don’t take any more of these pills.”

5. ‘Please’

Add ‘please’ to make the order or instruction more polite.

It can also be added to ‘don’t’ commands.

Please listen.”Please hand me that knife, would you?”
Please step away from the doors.”Please don’t take me here again.”

‘Please’ can go at the start or end of the command. It is generally more polite at the start.

6. Exercises

1. Finish these commands using imperatives:
(i) Please …
(ii) Don’t …
(iii) … the gun.

2. Use commands and instructions to (remember to choose whether to be direct, or polite):
(i) make someone pass the salt
(ii) turn off the lights
(iii) give you all their money