a) Do come in! Must come in!* Should come in!*
b) Don't cry! Did'nt cry!* Haven't cry!*

(the asterisks represents a wrong answer.)

How am I able to explain that an imperative has an understood second person subject from the data above?

Also, how am I able to prove it by subjecthood test? For subjecthood test, it is meant by test that can prove a particular subject in the sentence. There are 5 tests: Agreement test, Case test, Tag Question test, Position test and Subject Verb inversion test.


Imperative verbs are an exception to the general rule that a grammatically proper sentence in English cannot have an implied subject. (This differs, for example, from Latin, which is generous with implied subjects.)

Thus, there is no issue of distinguishing between the subject and other nouns in a sentence in the imperative mode because there is no explicit subject. The implicit subject is always the second person "you," either singular or plural.

The imperative mode is marked by the absence of an explicit subject and, in the affirmitive, by the bare infinitive (without "to") of the substantive verb or by "do" followed by the bare infinitive of the substantive verb, and, in the negative, by "do not" or "don't" followed by the bare infinitive of the substantive verb.

Correct, affirmative forms of the imperative:

"Come inside" or "Do come inside."

Correct negative forms of the imperative:

"Do not come inside" or "Don't come inside."

Although other modals such as "must," "should," "ought to," or "have to" coupled to an infinitive may have similar meanings to the imperative, they do not introduce an imperative and require an explicit subject.

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  • can we say 'do come in, will you?' – xiaoqianqian Oct 13 '18 at 1:12
  • That is grammatical but not natural. Remember that the imperative is an order. "Come in" implies that the listener is an inferior who must obey. To avoid that social implication, it is common to place "Please" in front of the operative inperative: "Please come in." The "please" socially turns what is grammatically an order into a request. Even less demanding is "Come in, won't you," which grammatically is an order that sounds very like a question. – Jeff Morrow Oct 13 '18 at 13:36

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