Tag Archive | Imperative

Omitting the Possessive Adjective

In an imperative or command:

In French, possessive adjectives are used to modify the noun they precede.

Voici ma mère. | This is my mother.


Regarde ma nouvelle voiture ! | Look at my new car!

A common construction is one where the possessive adjective is dropped in an imperative or command (and replaced with a definite article along with a personal pronoun) only if an action is being taken on a physical attribute (head, back, arm etc.). In the following examples, action is not being taken on the physical attribute, therefore the possessive adjective remains.

Regarde mon dos. | Look at my back.


Remarque mes cheveux. | Notice my hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Masse-moi le dos. | Massage my back.


Coupe-moi les cheveux. | Cut my hair.


Tiens-moi la main. | Hold my hand.

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Noun

masse

mon

dos

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Verb

Personal Pronoun

Definite Article

Noun

masse

moi

le

dos

coupe

moi

les

cheveux


In a statement:

The possessive adjective may also be dropped in a statement only if an action is being taken on the physical attribute. In the following examples, an action is not being taken.

Je regarde son dos. | I’m looking at his/her back.


Elle remarque ses cheveux. | She’s noticing his/her hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Je lui masse le dos. | I’m massaging his/her back.


Elle me coupe les cheveux. | She’s cutting my hair.

The possessive adjective takes the form of the appropriate personal pronoun and is placed before the verb, and a definite article is placed before the object. The same applies to pronominal verbs (when the action is being done to oneself).

  • I wash my hands. = Je me lave les mains.
  • She brushes her hair. = Elle se brosse les cheveux.

Subject

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Object

je

masse

son

dos

elle

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux


In the past tense (passé composé):

In the past tense as well, the personal pronoun is placed after the subject (just as it is in the present tense).

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Avoir

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

ai

massé

le

dos

elle

m’

a

coupé

les

cheveux


In the past tense using pronominal verbs:

The construction for using pronominal verbs is much like using passé composé with the exception that, as with all reflexive verbs, the past participle is conjugated with être.

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Être

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

me

suis

lavé

les

mains

elle

s’

est

cassé

la

jambe


I hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderful week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Lesson 32 – The Imperative

Leçon 32 – L’impératif

The imperative form is used for demands, giving orders, and addressing one or more people directly.

The imperative of almost all French verbs is easy to form – you drop the subject pronoun (tu, nous, or vous) of present tense forms. This is true for both affirmative and negative commands. The nous command is the equivalent of “let’s (not) do ___ ” in English.

  • Réfléchis avant d’agir. N’agis pas sans réfléchir.
  • Think before you act. Don’t act without thinking.
  • Ne m’interrompez pasNe dites rien.
  • Don’t interrupt meDon’t say anything.
  • N’attendons plus. Choisissons un cadeau pour maman aujourd’hui.
  • Let’s not wait any longer. Let’s choose a gift for mom today.

Most imperatives are regular in speech. However, the written forms have one orthographic change: the informal imperative (tu form) of –er verbs loses the final s of the present tense ending. The s is also lost in the informal imperative of aller and of –ir verbs conjugated like –er verbs, such as ouvrirsouffrir, etc.

  • N’ouvre pas la porte. Demande qui c’est d’abord.
  • Don’t open the door. Ask who it is first.
  • Va au bureau et donne cette lettre à la secrétaire.
  • Go to the office and give this letter to the secretary.

Some verbs had irregular imperative forms.

Command Form Command Form Command Form Command Form
Person être avoir savoir vouloir
tu sois aie sache veuille*
nous soyons ayons sachons
vous soyez ayez sachez veuillez*

*Sometimes veux and voulez are used as command forms for vouloir.


Veuillez + infinitive is used to add a polite note to the imperative,  just like “please” in English. This form is possible, but not common, since the imperative of vouloir has a formal tone.

  • Veuillez attendre en bas.
  • Please wait downstairs.
  • Veuillez répondre dans le plus brefs délais.
  • Please answer as soon as possible.

The infinitive of the verb, rather than the command form, is often used as an imperative in written French to express commands/instructions to the general public, such as instructions for use (directions on medicine bottles, or road signs, for example).

  • Agiter avant d’ouvrir.
  • Shake before opening.
  • Tenir la droit.
  • Keep right.

I hope you guys found this post to be helpful. I have noticed a spike in views to this blog, possibly due to la rentrée! To anyone new to this blog, feel free to follow me, bookmark this page, or even leave requests for posts you’d like to see here.

Have an amazing week, everyone!

A la prochaine !

Courtney