Latin/Lesson 1-Imperative

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Imperative[edit | edit source]

Positive Imperative[edit | edit source]

English[edit | edit source]

In English (and in Latin), the positive imperative is a command. For example:

  • Just Do it!
  • Stop, hammer time!
  • Take me out to the ballgame!

Latin[edit | edit source]

In Latin, the imperative singular is found by taking the last two letters off of the infinitive. The six exceptions to this rule are dicere (dic), ducere (duc), facere (fac), velle, malle (infinitives not used) and nolle (noli). Ferre (fer) and esse (es) are often considered irregular due to the lack of a vowel at the end but we can see that applying the rule of removing the last two letters forms the imperatives correctly.

Examples:[edit | edit source]

Run, boy!

Curre, puer![1] (from curro, currere; to run)


I! (from eo, ire; to go)
  1. In many cases, the vocative will be used with the imperative, unless the imperative is used in a conversation or at a reader, as in a letter or guide.

Questions[edit | edit source]

Write out:

  1. Love me, Octavia! (to love = amo, amare)
  2. Come to Rome! (to come = venio, venire; Rome = Roma, Romae, f.)

Plural[edit | edit source]

To form the plural imperative in Latin, take the 2nd person plural present form of the verb (eg. amatis, sedetis, regitis, venitis) and replace the is at the end with e. The only exceptions to the rule are velle, malle (imperatives not used) and nolle (nolite). Ferre (ferte) and esse (este) are often considered irregular but applying the rule (fertis -> ferte, estis -> este) correctly forms the imperatives.

Go home, boys!

Ite domum, pueri.

Stay, all of you!

Manete, omnes!

Exercises[edit | edit source]

Write out:

  1. Take them, men! (to take = adripio, adripere)
  2. Fear me, children! (to fear = timeo, timere; children = liberi)

Negative Imperative[edit | edit source]

English[edit | edit source]

In English, we use the word "don't" for prohibitions, or negative imperatives. For example:

  • Don't do it!
  • Don't say that!

Latin[edit | edit source]

Similarly, in Latin the negative imperative is formed with two words, the imperative of nolo, nolle and the infinitive.

Nolo by itself means "I do not want," but in its imperative it means "do not...!" Some teachers of Latin point out that literally you are saying "Be unwilling to ..." - a very polite way of giving an order!

Nolle is irregular, and its imperative forms are noli and nolite.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Do not fear me!

Noli me timere!

Don't build the aqueduct there, soldiers!

Nolite aquaeductum ibi aedificare, milites!

Don't wash the dog, boys!

Nolite, pueri, canem lavare!

Exercises[edit | edit source]


  1. Don't cry, daughter! (to cry = fleo, flere)
  2. Don't hurt me, friends! (to hurt = vulnero, vulnerare)
  3. Don't go into the water, boys!
  4. Don't hurt them, soldiers! (them = use eos, masculine accusative plural of is, ea, id)