‘Imperative’ is a prevalent word in written and spoken English. But can you explain the concept of “imperative” from imperative definition to usage and everything around this word without hesitation? The truth is this is a question that many people have a hard time answering because the word can fit different scenarios.
In a nutshell, “imperative” is defined as “important or vital, to give commands; command, or urgent and essential.” These meanings give the word diverse applications in grammar and linguistics. You can use ‘imperative’ as a noun or adjective in instances that suit the word’s meaning.
In this article, we explore the meaning and usage of the word imperative. We’ll also provide some examples to see how imperative is used in context. By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of what an imperative is and how to use it properly!
What Is the Definition of Imperative?
As an adjective, ‘imperative’ most common definition is crucial, important, or essential; something of vital importance. Terms like all-important, necessary, and of essence also give the perfect imperative definition.
In sentences: “It is imperative that we attend the meeting.” “To top in your business school class, it’s imperative to pay attention to your professor’s demands.” These two sentences showcase the right usage of “imperative” to mean “of importance.”
In the first sentence, it shows that attending the meeting had some positive results that would not have been realized if ignored. In the second sentence, the student believes that one of the best ways to top the class is to do what the tutor wants; doing so is imperative.
Imperative Word Forms
You can derive an adverb and a noun from the word “imperative.” You’ve probably come across some of these words. They include:
Imperatively (adverb): This word is defined as “in an imperative manner” or “necessitating immediate action.” In other words, use this adjective if you need something to happen right now. Sentences in which “imperatively” is properly used:
- I imperatively needed a sandwich.
- The police officer imperatively demanded that the suspect get on the ground.
- Imperatively, we must not speak to anyone until we’ve got our bearings.
Imperativeness (noun): The word imperativeness means the quality of being important or urgent based on the context. Have a look at these example sentences:
- For the three years I have been studying English, our professors don’t stop reminding us about the imperativeness of grammar use in speech.”
- ” Experts recommend that new couples must visit relationship counselors to understand the imperativeness of bonding for a strong union.”
What Is the Meaning of Imperative?
Imperative is also used to mean command: Demanding immediate attention, forceful, or commanding or expressing an order, instruction, or exhortation on something or situation.
These commands can be positive or negative (forcing or suggesting a command). However, in most cases, people use imperative to stress a forceful command. That’s why dictionaries include the meaning of imperative as “an order designed to be obeyed without question or delay.” Synonyms: binding, mandatory, compulsory.
Example sentences using that meaning include:
- The new manager signed imperative instructions upon his arrival, and that’s how the company lost key employees.
- Jake heard someone shouting imperative instructions from the far side of the terrace.
Imperative also means ” an urgent and essential undertaking or situation.” In such instances, the word has some compassionate meaning. You can notice some positivity in its use. An excellent sentence to showcase is: “The United Nations believes that there’s an imperative need for greater understanding between all the nations across the continents.”
Imperative As a Noun vs. Adjective
In the above meanings, imperative can be used as a noun. That is, “as a command or order.” As mentioned earlier, when imperative is used as an adjective, it means expressing or giving a command or orders. Let’s see the main differences at the sentence level.
- “The captain gave an imperative for his crew to prepare for the incoming storm.” Imperative here is a noun.
- “The captain’s tone was imperative; we knew the storm was fast approaching.” The second sentence shows how to use imperative as an adjective.
Imperative in Linguistics and Grammar
The English language has three imperatives: First-person singular imperative”`Come here.’ ” First-person singular present indicative command “`Don’t drop it!'” and the imperative of direct address “Mary Take out the garbage!”
These are commands. It’s how we tell people to do things around the house, at school, or any place. Commands usually begin with imperative verbs. They can also begin with imperatives (plural for a command).
In linguistics, an imperative is a grammatical mood used to give orders or requests. It is often called “the imperative mood.” The imperative mood is when a verb expresses an action.
Here are some examples of the imperative mood: “Let’s go, Chelsea!” “Go for it!” In the two sentences, “go” is an imperative verb. Imperative mood tells the listener to do something.
How to Use Imperative in a Sentence
Sentences commonly use the word imperative in its noun, adverb, or adjective forms to describe importance, instructions, demands, requests, or commands.
To use a word like imperative correctly, it is helpful to be aware of its meaning and function in context. Knowing how to use the word imperative will give you a more powerful grasp of your vocabulary.
“Imperative” is most often used in formal or academic writing. Either way, it is helpful to stick to the context to avoid confusion. You can also pair the word with additional adjectives to give more context about what it means. Here are some “imperative sentences” to help you understand what we mean better:
- “Calm down your voices.” The teacher said with an imperative tone.
- We should all practice using yoga. It’s an imperative way to stay healthy and strong.
- The World Health Organization has declared these items as imperatives for the refugee crisis.
10 Examples of Imperative in a Sentence
Ready to learn more? Here are 10 example sentences that include the word imperative.
- Observing proper hygiene and health care is an imperative behavior of a responsible pet owner.
- If you want your business to continue to thrive, you must follow the rules. This is your primary imperative.
- The driver’s imperative tone of voice proves that the company deserves better workers.
- “Don’t let the disease take my baby!” That was her mother’s final, imperative statement before she passed away from cancer.
- Paul had an implicit understanding of his parents’ imperative for attending college.
- In the US, teenagers have a sense of entitlement and think their parents’ imperatives are optional.
- The first imperative you must learn as a volunteer firefighter is how to take direction from your commanding officer.
- When going through airport security, the guards will issue an imperative to remind you not to bring any weapon in your luggage.
- Our boss gave us an imperative order to make the deadline earlier than expected.
- The government has declared public health imperatives that all citizens must follow.
How Do You Spell Imperative?
The word imperative is spelled with ten characters of different sounds. These characters include /i-m-p-e-r-a-t-i-v-e/. The spelling starts with a lower intonation and rises smoothly at the end.
Knowing the word’s right spelling is the first step to being a confident author or speaker. That’s why you need to know English phonics and articulate them correctly. In addition to phonics and sounds, make sure you can identify all the characters in a word correctly without a reference point.
How Do You Pronounce Imperative?
Imperative pronunciation varies based on the context you want to fit. Majority of people pronounce imperative as /im pɛrətiv /or /im-per-uh-tiv/ based on its syllables.
Note that the word sounds the same in both American and British contexts. According to Google, both languages produce a /uhm·peh·ruh·tuhv/ sound when pronouncing imperative. You can try listening to different audios to feel how to pronounce the word in different places.
How Many Syllables Are in Imperative?
There are four syllables in the word imperative.
Are you wondering how we’ve come up with this number? Divide the word according to the present vowels. You should come up with im-per-a-tive. During the spelling, you need to stress “per” syllable to get the right spelling and pronunciation.
History & Etymology of Imperative
The term imperative comes from the Latin word “imperare” meaning “Let it be done.” The Old French used the word as “imperatif.”The words are found in the oldest Latin translations of the Bible which Church Fathers made in the 3rd century.
That explains why many sources indicate that the word ‘imperative’ was originally a legal term that describes the mood of verbs in Roman law.
In Latin, there were six inflectional forms to a verb, but only two for future tense. These two futures were the “future indicative” and “future imperative.” The latter form simply meant that you should do what is mentioned, without any further detail. In time, “imperative” became a term to describe commands or orders given by someone in authority.
When Was Imperative First Used?
The first use in grammar was in the 1520s.
If you’ve been misusing the word ‘imperative’ this whole time, you now know the appropriate imperative definition, meaning and usage in sentences from this article. We all know how important it is to use words correctly in our day-to-day lives.
Many people would argue that grammar isn’t essential to perfect your skills. But when texting, talking, or tweeting, not communicating right could be detrimental, especially if your audience is people who don’t speak English as their first language.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.