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Imperative Verbs

What are imperative verbs?

Imperative verbs are sometimes called 'bossy' verbs. They are verbs which tell you what to do and are used in command sentences. For example:

'Open the door.'

The word 'open' in the sentence above is the imperative verb.

Examples of imperative verbs

Imperative verbs are a feature of instruction texts. Instructions tell the reader how to do something using command sentences, so therefore imperative verbs are essential. Usually, these imperative verbs are found at the start of commands. For example:


Chop the onions.

Fry everything together in a pan.


However, the imperative verb can sometimes come later in the sentence. For example,


Finally, season with salt and pepper.

Imperative verbs are also used widely in road signs and in areas of danger. Here are some real-life examples:


Real life examples of imperative verbs - road sign
Real life examples of imperative verbs - give way
Real life examples of imperative verbs - smile

How to teach children about imperative verbs

Children are introduced to imperative verbs in KS1. It is important for children to understand how to identify and use imperative verbs in order for them to write clear instructions.

Typically, a good place to start is with a model set of instructions that contains a variety of imperative verbs. As a shared reading activity, children could work with a partner to find examples of imperative verbs within the text. They could be highlighted and written up on the board to create a word bank of useful imperative verbs that children could later use in their talk or writing.

Giving children lots of practise with using imperative verbs in their talk is really important in them developing their skill and confidence in using them. Children could follow instructions to do or make something and photographs could be taken. Children could subsequently use the photographs to give their own instructions. A good way to do this is to get children to pretend they are on a cookery show and are instructing the audience how to make a delicious dish! Children could have a bank of imperative verbs to refer to whilst the rest of the class could listen out for any imperative verbs they hear.

In our Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch English Pack is a lesson on the language of instructions. In this interactive lesson, children will perform a cookery programme including lots of imperative verbs.

Imperative verbs The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch
Imperative verbs The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch
Imperative verbs The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch

To get children using imperative verbs in their writing, word banks of examples of imperative verbs are really helpful. They can also be encouraged to swap their writing with a partner and asked to check each other's writing for examples of imperative verbs.

Lesson Pack Zog: Instructions - Imperative Verbs

Lesson Pack The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch - The Language of Instructions

Lesson Pack The Twits - Features of Instructions

FREE Imperative Verbs Mat