How To Form and Use The French Imperative

What is the French Imperative?

The French imperative (l’impératif) is a tense or mood that is used for giving commands, orders and making requests. Examples of the imperative are Mange! (Eat!), Parlez! (Speak!) and Allons-y! (Let’s go!). This page covers conjugation tables of regular verbs, irregular and reflexive verbs, example sentences, negation.

How to form the French imperative for regular verbs

The endings are quite straight forward. Simply take the tu, nous and vous forms of the present tense. For regular -er verbs get rid of the -s in the present tu form.

Parler - to speak
parle! speak!
parlons! let's speak!
parlez! speak!
Finir - to finish
finis! finish!
finissons! let's finish!
finissez! finish!
Vendre - to sell
vends! sell!
vendons! let's sell!
vendez! sell!

Example sentences with regular verbs

  • Vendez voture voiture! Sell you car!
  • Allons à la plage! Let’s go to the beach!
  • Ferme la porte! Shut the door!
  • Ouvre la fenêtre! Open the window!
  • Lisez les phrases suivantes. Read the following sentences.
  • Rentrez à la maison avant minuit! Come home before midnight!
  • Téléphone à ta mère! Call you mother!
  • Apprends les verbes! Learn the verbs!

Irregular Forms of avoir, être and savoir

The verbs avoir (to have) etre (to be) and savoir (to know) have irregular forms in the imperative. The verb vouloir (to want to) is always used in the “vous” form: “veuillez” and it translates loosly to “please”.

Avoir to have
aie! have!
ayons! let's have!
ayez! have!
Être to be
sois! be!
soyons! let's be!
soyez! be!
Savoir to know
sache! know!
sachons! let's know!
sachez! know!

Example sentences with être, avoir and savoir

  • S’il vous plaît, soyez prudent! Please be careful.
  • Sachez que le prof a raison! Know that the teacher is right!
  • Veuillez parler en français s’il vous plaît. Please speak French.
  • Aie un peu de patience! Have a little patience!

Aller and faire conjugations

You treat the verb aller (to go) like a regular -er verb. Get rid of the -s on the tu form.

Aller To go
va! go!
allons! let's go!
allez! go!
Faire To make, do
fais! do/make!
faisons! let's do/make!
faites! do!/make!

Examples with aller and faire

  • Faites attention! Watch out!
  • Faisons les exercises! Let’s do the exercises!
  • Va t’en! Get out of there!
  • Allons en Normanie! Let’s go to Normandy!

How the negation works with the French impartive

Negative sentences are simply formed by putting a “ne” and “pas” around the verb. Here are some sample sentences.

  • Ne conduisez pas si rapidement! Don’t drive so fast!
  • Ne bois pas mon café! Don’t drink my coffee!
  • N’oublie pas ce que je te dis! Don’t forget what I’m telling you!
  • Ne mange pas ses bonbons! Don’t eat their candy!
  • Ne parle pas Anglais avec moi! Don’t speak English with me!

How to form the imperative for reflexive verbs

When you’re using the imperative mood with reflexive (or pronominal) verbs you have to be careful of the position of the pronoun.

In affirmative commands the pronoun comes after the verb and me/te become moi and toi. In negative commands the pronoun comes before the verb. Here are some examples:

  • Appelle-moi ce soir! Call me tonight!
  • Ne m’appelle pas ce soir! Don’t call me tonight!
  • Dépêche-toi! On va être en retard! Hurry up! We’re going to be late!
  • Ne te dépêche pas! On a le temps! Don’t hurry! We have time!

How to use the imperative with pronouns

There are certain situations in affirmative commands where pronouns follow the verb and are attached with a hyphen. In negative commands with pronouns, wrap ne…pas around the verb with the pronoun preceding the verb.

  • Mange-le! eat it!
  • Ne le mange pas. Don’t eat it!
  • Donne-le-moi! Give it to me!
  • Ne me le donne pas! Don’t give it to me!
  • Téléphone-lui! Call him!
  • Ne lui téléphone pas! Don’t call him!
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