Imperative: informal

The informal imperative in the singular

a) Forms without an ending

In the informal imperative, a distinction is made between the singular and the plural forms of a word. In the singular form, the verb in the second person forms the basis, with the -st ending removed. Verbs with a root that ends in -s, -ß, -z or -x only leave out the -t. In the singular, the informal imperative usually takes no ending.


(Du) mach(st) viel Sport. -> Imperativ: Mach viel Sport!

(Du) geh(st) oft spazieren. -> Imperativ: Geh oft spazieren!

(Du) putz(t) regelmäßig die Zähne. -> Imperativ: Putz regelmäßig die Zähne!

(Du) iss(t) mehr Obst. -> Imperativ: Iss mehr Obst!

Verbs with a vowel change from a to ä have no umlaut in the imperative.

(Du) fähr(st) mit dem Fahrrad zur Arbeit. -> Imperativ: Fahr mit dem Fahrrad zur Arbeit!

(Du) schläf(st) genug. -> Imperativ: Schlaf genug!


b) Special forms ending in -e

Many imperative forms can be formed with the ending -e. Often it is a matter of style whether we say:

Mach jeden Tag Sport!
Mache jeden Tag Sport!

The first variant is more common in spoken language, whereas we usually find the second in written language. Some imperative forms sound old-fahioned or didactic when used with the ending -e.

When a verb ends in -est in the second person singular, in the imperative the -e remains.

 (Du) arbeite(st) nicht zu viel. -> Imperativ: Arbeite nicht zu viel!

(Du) öffne(st) das Fenster. -> Imperativ: Öffne das Fenster!

When the vowel changes from e to i (i.e., essen -> Iss!) the ending -e cannot be used.


The informal imperative in the plural

When we use the imperative with more than one person, we use the plural form. This can be created using the second-person plural in the present tense. The personal pronoun is not used but the ending remains unchanged.

(Ihr) macht viel Sport. -> Imperativ: Macht viel Sport!

(Ihr) esst mehr Obst. -> Imperativ: Esst mehr Obst!

(Ihr) fahrt mit dem Fahrrad zur Arbeit. -> Imperativ: Fahrt mit dem Fahrrad zur Arbeit!

(Ihr) arbeitet nicht zu viel. -> Imperativ: Arbeitet nicht zu viel.


Overview: imperative

The regular forms of the imperative are as follows:

Informal (singular) Trink(e) viel Wasser!
Informal (plural) Trinkt viel Wasser!
Formal Trinken Sie viel Wasser!


The forms of the verb sein are irregular:

Informal (singular) Sei fair!
Informal (plural) Seid fair!
Formal Seien Sie fair!



Grammatical terms in German:

der Imperativ: The imperative is a verb form used to make a request, or give a command or instructions.