L’impératif (imperative)

Introduction

The imperative is known in French as the impératif. We use this form for demands and orders, when addressing one or more people directly. The imperative exists for the second person singular (tu), the first person plural (nous), and the second person plural (vous).

Beispiel

Passager: Arrêtez!

Chauffeur: Montez!

Passager: Conduisez-moi à la gare!

Chauffeur: Mettez votre ceinture, s’il vous plaît!

Passager: Allons-y!

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Usage

We use the imperative to order someone to do something.

Examples:
Arrêtez !Stop!
Montez !Get in!
Conduisez-moi à la gare !Drive me to the station!

Sometimes we include ourselves in the order and use the imperative for the first person plural (we).

Example:
Allons-y !Let’s go!!

Construction

2nd person singular (tu)

We construct the imperative for tu using the present-tense form of the 1st person singular. The pronoun is omitted.

This means that er-verbs end with e, while all other verbs end with s. (For irregular present-tense forms, see the List of Irregular Verbs.)

Example:
parler – Parle !Speak!
finir – Finis !Finish!
vendre – Vends !Sell!

1st person plural (nous)

The imperative for nous is the same as the finite verb form for nous (1st person plural). This means that for er/re-verbs and irregular verbs we add ons, and for ir-verbs that are conjugated like finir we add issons. The pronoun is omitted.

Example:
parler – Parlons !Reden wir!/Lass uns reden!
finir – Finissons !Lass uns enden!/Enden wir!
vendre – Vendons !Lass uns verkaufen!/Verkaufen wir!

2nd person plural (vous)

The imperative for vous is the same as the finite verb form for vous (2nd person plural). This means that for er/re-verbs and irregular verbs we add ez, and for ir-verbs that are conjugated like finir we add issez. The pronoun is omitted.

Example:
parler – Parlez !Speak!
finir – Finissez !Finish!
vendre – Vendez !Sell!

We also use this form in polite requests.

Example:
Attendez, madame.Please wait, madame!
Veuillez vous asseoir.Please take a seat!

Reflexive Verbs

For the positive imperative of the reflexive verbs, the verb comes first and after it we use the strong form of the reflexive pronoun. In negative imperatives, however, we use the weak form of the reflexive pronoun as usual. (see Reflexive Pronouns).

Example:
Lève-toi !/Ne te lève pas !Stand up!/Don’t stand up!
Levons-nous !/Ne nous levons pas !Let’s stand up!/Let’s not stand up!

Exceptions

Some verbs have an irregular imperative form.

infinitiveimperative
aller va, allons, allezgo, let’s go, go
avoir aie, ayons, ayezhave, let’s have, have
être sois, soyons, soyezbe, let’s be, be
savoir sache, sachons, sachezknow, let’s know, know
vouloir veuille, veuillons, veuillezbe so kind as to...

If the adverbial pronoun y comes after an imperative that ends with a vowel, we add an s to the imperative verb to make pronunciation easier.

Example:
Vas-y !Go!

To note: Imperative for the 2nd person singular (tu) of the verb s’en allerva-t-en !