Lesson 15: Introduction to the imperative mood in Russian

The imperative mood, also known as the command form, is the verb form used to induce an order, action, appeal, or wish.

For more information go here for the imperative mood page in our Russian grammar resources.

Formation of the imperative mood

Imperative verbs only have two forms: the singular (ты) and plural forms (вы).

To form the imperative, add the relevant endings to the verb stem of the 3rd person plural (они).

Stems ending in a vowel: add -й or -йте

  • Present imperfective: я думаю, они дума-ют.
  • Imperative: думай / думайте!

Stems ending in a consonant when the я form is stressed on the ending: add -и or -ите

  • Present imperfective: я пишу, они пиш-ут.
  • Imperative: пиши / пишите!

Stems ending in a consonant when the я form is not stressed on the ending: add -ь or -ьте

  • Future perfective: я брошу, они брос-ят.
  • Imperative: брось / бросьте!
читатьчитай / читайте
игратьиграй / играйте
работатьработай / работайте
смотретьсмотри / смотрите
говоритьговори / говорите
любитьлюби / любите
идтииди / идите
ходитьходи / ходите
бежатьбеги / бегите
ездитьезжай / езжайте
писатьпиши / пишите
готовитьготовь / готов-ьте
ответитьответь / ответьте

Uses of the imperative mood

You’ll have to decide when it’s right to use the imperfective vs. perfective aspect with the imperative mood. Remember, the imperfective should be used for actions that are processes, done regularly, prohibited. Meanwhile, the perfective should be used for actions that are results, done once, or warnings not to do something. For example:

Imperfective imperative

Кушай, молодой человек! = Eat, young man!

Слушайте классическую музыку! = Listen to classical music!

Не кури здесь! = Don’t smoke here!

Perfective imperative

Напишите здесь ваш адрес! = Write your address here!

Послушай новую песню! = Listen to the new song!

Не забудьте отправить электронное письмо! = Don’t forgot to send the email!

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