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Imperative Latin Verbs - Imperatives

Basics on Imperatives in Latin Verbs

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Normally, the imperative mood is used for direct commands (orders):

Dormi
'Go to sleep!'
English rearranges the word order of the declarative sentence, if it's necessary, and replaces the period with an exclamation point.

The Latin imperative is formed by removing the "-re" ending of the present infinitive:

dormire without the "-re" is dormi.
When ordering two or more people, add -"te" to the singular imperative. When telling more than one person to go to sleep, you say:
Dormite
Sleep!

For the plural imperative of 3rd conjugation verbs, the "e" before the dropped "re" is changed to an "i." Thus, the plural imperative of mittere 'to send' is:

mittite
Send!
but the singular imperative is:
mitte
Send!

There are some irregular or irregular-seeming imperatives, especially in the case of irregular verbs. The imperative of ferre 'to carry' is ferre minus the "-re" ending, as predicted:

fer
Carry!
in the singular and
Ferte
Carry!
in the plural.
The imperative of the verb nolo is used to form negative commands. To say "don't" in Latin, you ordinarily use the imperative of nolo with the infinitive of the other verb.

Noli me tangere.
Don't touch me!

Present Imperative of Nolo

Singular: noli
Plural: nolite

More on the Negative Imperative

You can also use other constructions. For instance, for the prohibitive imperative "don't hurry" you would say ne festina.

More Imperatives

There are also less common passive and future imperatives. For the verb 'to love' amare, the passive imperative singular is amare and the passive imperative plural is amamini. Both passive imperatives translate as 'be loved'. For deponent verbs (verbs that are passive in form and active in meaning), the imperative is passive although the meaning is active.

The future imperatives for amare are amato, in the singular, and amatote, in the plural. This isn't a form we differentiate in English. In a sense, English imperatives are future imperatives because the person giving the order is asking that something be done in the near or distant future. Memento 'Remember!' is the future imperative of the verb memini 'to remember'. Esto 'be' is another relatively common Latin future imperative. Its plural is, as predicted, estote.

The Latin subjunctive may also be used for giving orders.

Index of Quick Tips on Latin Verbs

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