The imperative is used to tell someone to do something, or not to do something. It’s a command.
Since airline safety instruction demonstrations are telling people what to do – and not to do – flight attendants use the imperative throughout their speeches.
1. To form the imperative, use the present tense.
2. The subject of the imperative is always the same: you.
Why? Because the imperative is used by someone to give a command to someone else. For one person to tell someone else to do something, they have to say “you, do this” or “you, don’t do that.” The speaker is commanding one person to do something (“you” singular) or a several people to do something (“you” plural). But we don’t use the word “you”:
You, put your bag away. You, turn off your telephone.
The subject is understood, so we do not use the word “you”. The correct form is simply:
Put your bag away.
Turn off your telephone.
Don’t smoke in the restroom.
Even if the person is directly addressed, the subject is still you. For example:
Sir, turn off your computer. (subject is you, not he)
To make an imperative more polite, we can add the word “please”.
Sir, please turn off your computer. Thank you.
Please do not stand in the aisle
To practice listening to imperatives, watch this safety demonstration. You will get the chance to listen to an Australian accent.
How was it? Could you understand the video? If you need to see the transcript of the video, just click here.
Now for a short quiz to test your use of the imperative.
Did you like the video? Have questions? Please leave me a comment below!