Imperative mood

What is the imperative mood in Russian

The imperative mood is sometimes called the command form, as it is used to induce an order, action, appeal, or wish. For example:

  • Не ходи туда. = Don’t go there.
  • Дайте нам знать, когда доберётесь домой! = Let us know when you get home!
  • Пожалуйста, спойте нам песню. = Please, sing us a song.

    How to form the imperative

    Imperative verbs only decline in number – with singular (ты) and plural forms (вы).

    Imperative verbs are formed by adding relatively simple endings to the verb stem. The verb stem here is the 3rd person plural (они) for the imperfective present / perfective future.

    The endings you add are as follows.

    • Singular: replace endings -ат, -ят, -ут and -ют with -й, -и and -ь. (айся, айтесь for reflexive verbs)
    • Plural: replace the same endings -ат, -ят, -ут and -ют with -йте, -ите or -ьте. (ись, итесь for reflexive verbs)

    Please note, though, the accent on the imperative will be the same as on the verb in the 1st person singular (я) for the imperfective present / perfective future.

    The different imperative stems

    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!

      Common imperative verb examples

      Common regular formation imperative verbs:

      InfinitiveImperative
      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

      Common irregular formation imperative verbs:

      InfinitiveImperative
      бытьбудь / будьте
      естьешь / ешьте
      ждатьжди / ждите
      идтииди / идите
      езжатьезжай / езжайте
      битьбей / бейте
      питьпей / пейте
      лечьляг / лягте
      датьдай / дайте
      узнаватьузнай / узнайте

        Other forms of the imperative: пусть, пускай, да, давай

        пусть and пускай

        Пусть or пускай + a 3rd person verb in the present or future has the meaning, “let,” in Russian. For example:

        • Пусть это служит примером каждому из вас. = Let this serve as an example for each and every one of you.
        • Пусть будет как есть. = Let it be as it is.
        • Пускай мальчики играют там. = Let the boys play there.

        да

        Да can be used to add an imperative sort of impatience or emphasis. You’ll most often see it used in the specific phrase “да здравствует,” which corresponds to the English “long live” or Spanish “que viva.” For example:

        • Да здравствует Великая Октябрьская Социалистическая революция! = Long live the Great October Socialist Revolution!

        давай

        Давай is very common and expresses a proposal, not a command. It conveys the meaning “let me / us” and is used in the first person. For example:

        • Давай, я помогу тебе! = (Will you) let me help you!
        • Давайте играть в шахматы. = Let’s play chess!

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