How to give orders and instructions in French
In English, when we give instructions, advice or orders, we say things like: Add water; Come here; Keep it up, don’t stop; Let’s keep going; Look both ways before crossing; Go to page 15, Join Now, etc. This is what linguists call the imperative mood. Using the imperative mood in English is very easy. Just put the verb at the beginning of the sentence. If necessary, put Do not, Don’t, Let us, or Let’s in front of the verb.
In French, unfortunately, it is much more complicated. The most common way to express the imperative mood in French is with a special form of the verb. Let’s first see how this verb form is constructed. First, the present conjugation is taken with TU (you informal singular), NOUS (we) and VOUS (you formal and all you plural). Remember that French verbs are divided into groups according to the ending of their infinitive form.
talk: you talk, we talk, you talk
to choose: you choose, we choose, you choose
read: you read, we read, you read
Next, we drop the pronouns. So in the case of -er verbs (like talk), we remove the s from the form you. So, the imperative forms of the above verbs would be:
talk talk talk
choose, choose, choose
read read read
To make a negative form, put Born before the verb and no gold any (nothing) after the verb.
The biggest complication here is the distinction between the informal you and the formal you or plural you. Since English does not make this distinction, a very common mistake made by English speakers in French is to use the informal singular tú all the time. For example, a conductor will say Hold the note ‘Hold the note’ to the whole orchestra when I really should say Hold the note Here are some examples of the imperative form:
Speak louder. Speak louder.
Sing less loudly. Sing less loudly.
Choose the date. Choose the date.
Read the whole book. Read the entire book.
Let’s go immediately. Let’s go right now.
Let’s go to the office. Let’s go to the office.
Let’s not say anything for now. Let’s not say anything for now.
We are not talking about religion. Let’s not talk about religion.
Come now. Come now.
Give me some air. Give me some air.
Don’t leave until tomorrow. Don’t leave before tomorrow.
As is usual in French, there are some irregular verbs with their special forms. The two most important verbs in the French language with their imperatives are:
BE (to be): to be, to be, to be
HAVE: have, have, have
Here are some examples of its use:
Be brave. Be brave.
Be careful. Watch out.
Let’s be careful. Let’s be careful.
Do not be modest. Do not be modest.
Have fun. Have fun.
Have heart Have a heart.
Let’s have strength. Let’s be strong.
Let’s not be afraid to talk to him. Let’s not be afraid to talk to him.
Then there are the so-called reflexive verbs where you have to insert a pronoun. Here are some examples:
Lie down here. Lie down here.
Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
Let’s get up laterLet’s get up later.
Lay down here . Let’s stretch out here.
Talk to you now.Talk to each other.
Watch the negative form.
Don’t lie down here. Don’t lie down here.
Don’t wash your hands. Don’t wash your hands.
Let’s not get up later. Let’s not get up later.
Don’t talk to each other now. Don’t talk to each other now.
Using the imperative in French is not easy. There is much to learn. Once you understand how it works, keep practicing until it becomes second nature.