Learn French imperative tense (Impératif)

Updated: Aug 6, 2021

Let’s recall our memory! How many times a day do we give instructions or orders? Several times I assume. Well, imperative tense is commonly used in French in daily conversations. It is the equivalent of Do this, don’t do that, let’s do this, ... Today, I've prepared a special lesson for you to help you get to know imperative tense and be able to use it in different contexts.



Learn French imperative tense construction
French Imperative tense

When do we use French imperative mood?

Imperative tense or mood is used in French to give instructions, order, interdiction, advice, to invite or wish something. It is used in daily conversation and it is very useful for you.

  • Instruction: Prenez vos livres ! => Take your books !

  • Advice : Fais  attention à la marche ! => Watch your steps !

  • Order : Sortez de chez moi! => Get out of my house !

  • Interdiction : Ne fumez pas ici! => Do not smoke here !

  • Invitation : Entrez! => Enter !

  • Wish : Fais un bon voyage! => Have a nice trip !


How to easily form the imperative in French?

Imperative tense is very similar to present tense, except that it is only used for the personal pronouns tu, nous, and vous, and there is no subject.

While formulating a command, we do not use the subject tu, nous or vous.

For the verbs of the first group ending with ER , and  those of the third group ending with "es" in the second person of singular, there is no need to add an "S". The same is applicable to the verb "aller" which is an irregular verb. Below are some examples.


Present Imperative


Tu manges des fruits et légumes Mange des fruits et légumes

Tu vas dans ta chambre Va dans ta chambre

Tu ouvres la porte Ouvre la porte

Nous allons au supermarché Allons au supermarché

Vous prenez le train Prenez le train

How to conjugate Imperative while dealing with irregular verbs?

Some verbs are irregular and you need to know them by heart to be able to use them correctly.

For example :

Avoir : aie, ayons ayez

Être : sois, soyons, soyez

aller : va, allons, allez

Savoir : Sache, sachons, sachez

Vouloir : veuille, veuillons, veuillez


How to conjugate Imperative with reflexive verbs?

With reflexive verbs, imperative tense is built like this : verb + the reflexive pronoun toi, nous or vous, separated by a hyphen.

Note that in the negative imperative form, we use the regular pronouns te, nous, or vous.

Examples :

  • Present tense : tu te lèves => You get up

  • Imperative affirmative : lève-toi => Get up !

  • Imperative negative: Ne te lève pas => Don't get up!


 

I hope this post helps you know better how to make commands or invitations in French. It takes some time to get used to the conjugation without the personal pronouns but it is worth it as Imperative mood is one of the must-know tense/mood.


For more on imperative tense, you can explore these Practice exercises that I have found interesting.

L'imperatif

Imperatif

Exercice


You might also be interested in learning how to make negative sentences

or Conjugating French regular verbs in present.


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