What is the value of Impératif in French?

Impératif mode just exists for two tenses, present and past. Imperative is used often in daily life. Once you know how to conjugate this tense you will be able to use it to express an order but also for other ideas. That is so useful to know and I will tell you here the different values of Impératif tense in French. Let’s first review how to conjugate the Impératif in French.

Rule

We use it without the subject pronoun and is only conjugated with three of them:

  • The second person singular, when we address someone using tu (prends le temps de visiter la ville!)
  • The second person plural, when we address someone formally using vous or several persons (prenez le temps de visiter la ville!)
  • Occasionaly the first person of plural, if we consider we are part of a group (prenons le temps de visiter la ville!)

We use indicative present tense to express Impératif.
Parler => tu parles, nous parlons, vous parlez => parle! parlons! parlez!

Remember: for first group verbs (-er ending) we drop the S at the end of the second person singular.

Values of Impératif in French

Impératif is used to express:

  • An order (descendez de là immédiatement!)
  • Ask someone to kindly do something, a prayer (écoute-moi je t’en prie)
  • An interdiction (apprenez cette leçon mais ne faites pas les exercices)
  • An advice (sachez attendre, soyez patient, tout va s’arranger)
  • A wish (passez un bon week-end, soyez en forme lundi)
  • A formal politeness (veuillez trouver ci-joint…)
  • A condition (finis ton travail et tu pourras rejoindre tes copains)
  • An oppostion, a concession (criez, menacez, suppliez, nous ne reviendrons pas sur notre décision)
  • A timeless truth (ne jouez pas avec le feu)

Impératif is easy to conjugate and very useful. Remember to practice out loud anything you learn. Practicing sentences with this tense will help you to learn. As you speak out sentences or exercises including this structure, you will be more and more confident when you speak French!

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