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!
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.
- Curre, puer! (from curro, currere; to run)
- I! (from eo, ire; to go)
- 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.
- Love me, Octavia! (to love = amo, amare)
- Come to Rome! (to come = venio, venire; Rome = Roma, Romae, f.)
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!
- Take them, men! (to take = adripio, adripere)
- Fear me, children! (to fear = timeo, timere; children = liberi)
In English, we use the word "don't" for prohibitions, or negative imperatives. For example:
- Don't do it!
- Don't say that!
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.
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!
- Don't cry, daughter! (to cry = fleo, flere)
- Don't hurt me, friends! (to hurt = vulnero, vulnerare)
- Don't go into the water, boys!
- Don't hurt them, soldiers! (them = use eos, masculine accusative plural of is, ea, id)