(be) content with your life!

(be) quiet!

Can't those sentences sound imperative without "be"? I think they can, but am not sure.

  • 1
    What do you mean "sound imperative"? "Quiet!" is a very common command. "Content with your life!" is not one, and I'm not sure that its intent would be immediately understood.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 17, 2019 at 8:11

1 Answer 1


As well as being idiomatic to command "QUIET!", it is arguably a demand for quiet rather than for people to be quiet - the noun and the verb are identical. It is worth noting that it is also idiomatic to yell "SILENCE!" (noun) to demand that people be silent (verb).

It is not idiomatic to say "content with your life!" as if it were an order to be content. Yet, it is idiomatic to say "settle down!" as an order to be settled.

The only example I can think of where a verb is used as a command is the military order "at ease!" for someone to be at ease. This really falls under the category of terminology or jargon which do not always follow the rules of grammar. Certain phrases have just become idiomatic through use and there may not be a rule to say what is right or wrong. I would say that incomplete sentences used as commands are exceptional rather than the norm.

  • I can think of many verbs that would be used as commands, in particular in the context of somebody pointing a gun at someone else. Walk! Sit! Hold still! Turn around! Put your hands over your head! (But ease is actually a noun in at ease, although it's understood to be an elliptical form of stand at ease, where it's that verb that's implied.) Apr 17, 2019 at 15:56

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