One of the Imperative Special Cases here are the Imperatives With Subject, explained as follows;

Normally when we use the imperative there is no subject because the subject is obvious—it's YOU! Sometimes, however, to make the subject clear, we do use a subject, for example:

  • Everybody look!
  • Relax, everybody.
  • Nobody move!
  • John sit down; the rest of you go home.
  • Somebody answer the phone!
  • You keep out of this!

We can also use you as the subject to imply anger, as in:

  • You watch your mouth, young man!

Are those really some special cases or do they just miss certain punctuation, for example;

  • Everybody, look!
  • Nobody should move!
  • John, sit down; the rest of you, go home.
  • Somebody, answer the phone!


  • You! Watch your mouth, young man! OR You, watch your mouth, young man!

In English Syntax: An Introduction (2004), Andrew Radford states that

an imperative sentence in English can have an overt subject which is either a second person expression like you, or a third person expression like anyone...

Some of the examples that he gives:

  • You read that book!

  • Youse tell the truth!

  • You protest!

Interestingly, according to the book, in one dialect of Belfast English sometimes the subject can be used after the verb in an imperative, as in

  • Leave you now!
  • Arrive you before 6 o'clock!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.