French Grammar: Imperatives (Command Form) – Basics

French Grammar: Imperatives (Command Form) – Basics

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French Grammar: Imperatives (Command Form) – Basics
la grammaire française: les impératifs – une introduction 

Study:

Imperatives (commands) are words that are used to give instructions, or to ask or tell a person to do (or not do) something. If you want to be able to tell someone how or what to do (or not do) or to understand if someone tells you to do (or not do) something in French, you will need to understand Imperatives.

In French, the Imperative is limited to the tu, vous, and nous forms.

By now, you are aware that tu means ‘you’ and is used to directly address someone you’re on a first-name basis with or someone you otherwise know well (such as family members and pets).

By the same token, you already know that vous – which also means ‘you’ – is used to directly address someone you’re not on a first-name basis with or don’t know well.  BUT vous also means ‘you’ in the plural sense (think: “y’all”); so vous is what to use when you’re directly addressing more than one person (regardless of whether you would use tu or vous with each of those people individually).

Finally, you already know that nous means ‘we’.  You use it when you are including yourself with one or more other people.

Now, back to the Imperative…

The tu form of the Imperative is used to give a direct command to someone you know well (that is, someone you normally address as tu).

The vous form of the Imperative is used to give a direct command to someone you don’t know well or are not on a first-name basis with (that is, someone who you normally address as vous).  The vous form of the Imperative is also used to give a direct command to more than one person at a time (that is, when talking to “y’all”).

The nous form of the Imperative has the meaning “let’s” or “let’s not”.

Imperatives are used in many different situations.

(a) To tell someone to do something:

Attends ton frère!
Wait for your brother!

(b) To tell someone NOT to do something:

N’écris pas dans ton livre.
Don’t write in your book.

(c) To make a suggestion (Let’s…):

Parlons d’autre chose.
Let’s talk about something else.

(d) To give directions or instructions:

Allez tout droit, passez la librairie et puis tournez à gauche juste après la banque.
Go straight, pass the bookstore and then turn left just after the bank.

Adapt: 

Ouvre les fenêtres!
Open the windows!

Fermez la porte!
Close the door!

Mange tes épinards!
Eat your spinach!

Écoute!
Listen!

Allons à la fête!
Let’s go to the party!

N’arrivez pas tard!
Don’t arrive late!

Lis le livre!
Read the book!

¡Étudiez!
Study!

Cours, Forrest, cours!
Run, Forrest, run!

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