What Are Imperative Verbs?

Key stage 1 child writing out imperative verbs

Also known as 'bossy' verbs, imperative verbs are on the Upper KS1 and KS2 school curriculum, so it's important for your children to understand what they are and how to use them properly. Kids are introduced to them typically in Year 1 or 2, and continue learning about them as they progress through primary school.

If you're feeling a bit lost as a parent and not quite sure yourself, don't worry. Our free, simple homeschooling guide has all the resources you need to help you support their learning and education.  You'll totally get imperative verbs as a family in no time!

What Is An Imperative Verb?

You probably already know that verbs are 'doing' or action words. Imperative verbs are a subset of verbs, and in simple terms, they are verbs that issue a command or order.

They are sometimes also called called 'instruction verbs', as well as 'bossy' verbs. Year 1 students are required to understand them, and they are part of the KS2 curriculum.

You'll find imperative verbs in command sentences. These are sentences that tell you to do something. Often imperative verbs feature at the start of the sentence.

These sentences are usually quite short and snappy, so they are easy to understand. They might even have an exclamation mark at the end to underline the command.

An example of an imperative verb might be:

'Bring', 'Give', 'Stop', 'Tidy', 'Tell', 'Shut' or 'Wash'.

Examples Of How To Use Imperative verbs

If you need some help, look at these examples of command sentences, and write them out for your child, or ask them to write them out for you.

'Bring me your dirty plate.'

'Give me your chocolate bar!'

'Shut the door!'

'Stop talking please!'

'Wash your face!'

'Tidy your room!'

'Take the dog for a walk!'

'Clap your hands.'

Imperative verbs can also sometimes work on their own. For example, you might say 'Stop!'  or 'Push!' and the other person would know what action to take.

What Is The Imperative Form Of A Verb?

Year 2 boy learning about imperative verbs

To create an imperative verb, you use the root form of the verb. For example, 'give', rather than 'gave' or 'given'. 'Drink' rather than 'drank' or 'drinking'. But this is usually instinctive.

Remember, imperative verbs often pop up in instructions, eg recipes, 'how to' guides and so on. Parents will no doubt be familiar with issuing imperative verbs! KS2 teachers will also be able to give you more examples.

How Do You Teach Them?

One way is to try an imperative verbs game. Giving examples can help your child understand when to use imperative verbs correctly.

You can challenge your Year 1 or Year 2 child to write a sentence using the following imperative verbs:

'Make,' 'Give', 'Don't', 'Stop', 'Wash', 'Bring', 'Show', 'Open' and so on.

Each time they write them down correctly in a sentence, award points and offer a reward when they get to, say, 10 points; for example, a sticker or a treat.

That way, when your children has to use them in school during an English class,  they will have no problem writing them out correctly, and will already get the concept.

The more examples you give, the faster they will get how to use an imperative verb correctly.

You could also write words out on cards, and ask your child to order them into a sentence.

Keep these as a resource when the time comes for your child to revise what she has learned over the school year.

Key Stage 1 girl looking over imperative verbs

Make Things Interesting

Ask your child to come up with fun ideas for sentences that contain imperative verbs at the start.

For example, this could involve writing instructions on how to do a new dance routine:

'Turn around.' 'Clap your hands', 'Move to the right' and so on.

Or how to make a cake: 'Crack the eggs', 'Get the flour', 'Stir the mixture'.

They could also ask their dolls or teddies to follow instructions.

Writing these instructions down could then be used for another game, or as a future learning resource.  

The simple act of writing down sentences is always a great way to support learning. You can also search for more free resources online, or ask your child to come up with their own ideas for games.


Written By

Cheryl Freedman

Born and living in London, Cheryl loves fun family trips to museums, art galleries, the theatre and city parks with her two kids, 11 and 6. She's a bookworm who also loves nature, cycling, drawing, and checking out the very best local foodie spots!

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