Using clear language: Imperatives

Topic Focus

In this topic we will look at a language structure that will help you to give clear instructions.

45 minutes

Often when we want someone to do something - such as hand in their homework! - we use short commands - or imperatives. This makes it easier for the person we are addressing to understand us.

Will Nash

Course Tutor

a. Look at these long, complicated sentences. In your notebook, rewrite the sentence so it means the same as the first one. The first word has been given to help you start the sentence. 

Take a look at the example below before you begin. Click on the switch when you are ready to check the answer. 

Example:

I’d really like you, if it’s not too difficult, to give me your work.
→ Hand in your work.

Check answer

1. Ensure that your homework is submitted. 

→ Submit…

2. When you are ready, come to the front of the classroom, to my desk, and put your homework in a pile on it. 

→ Put…

3. If you want to ask a question because you don’t understand something, you simply need to put your hand into the air above your head. 

→ Raise…

4. I want to hear why you have not completed your homework by giving me an effective and sound explanation for not completing it. 

→ Give me a good reason… 

5. Whenever you’re able, complete the task quickly, effectively and efficiently. 

→ Do it…   soon as possible.

6. Go around the room picking up the work of your fellow students and making a pile in your hands. 

→ Collect...

1. Ensure that your homework is submitted. 

→ Submit your homework.

2. When you are ready, come to the front of the classroom, to my desk, and put your homework in a pile on it. 

→ Put your homework on my desk.

3. If you want to ask a question because you don’t understand something, you simply need to put your hand into the air above your head. 

→ Raise your hand.   

4. I want to hear why you have not completed your homework by giving me an effective and sound explanation for not completing it. 

→ Give me a good reason for not doing your homework.

5. Whenever you’re able, complete the task quickly, effectively and efficiently. 

→ Do it as soon as possible.

6. Go around the room picking up the work of your fellow students and making a pile in your hands. 

→ Collect everyone’s work.

b. Think about the following two questions about forming imperative sentences. Click on the questions when you are ready to check your answers. 

It’s very simple in English. We form imperatives by using the bare infinitive of the main verb without adding a subject.  For example:

  • I would like you to hand in your work.
    → Hand in your work.

 

  • Can you submit your homework?
    → Submit your homework.

 

  • Nurhidayah, would you put your homework on my desk?
    → Put your homework on my desk.

We simply add don’t.

  • Hand in your work.
    → Don’t hand in your work.

c. Make the following sentences negative. Type your answer in the box being careful to use correct punctuation. 

  • Do you think Mr Arief (in Topic 1) is a good teacher? Why or why not? 
  • What do you do when your students don’t complete their homework?
  • What language do you use when you ask your students to hand in their work? 
  • Do you use imperatives? Why or why not? 
  • What do you think is the benefit of using imperatives?

Imperatives are useful as they can make instructions simple and clear.