According to Cambridge grammar

We use imperative clauses when we want to tell someone to do something (most commonly for advice, suggestions, requests, commands, orders or instructions).

We can use them to tell people to do or not to do things. They usually don’t have a subject – they are addressed to the listener or listeners, who the speaker understands to be the subject. We use the base form of the verb:

Have fun.

Enjoy your meal.

Stop talking and open your books.

For emphasis, we can use you in an imperative clause:

[a student and a teacher]

A: Can I leave the room?

B: No. You stay here.

In negative imperatives of this type, you comes after don’t:

Maria, don’t you try to pay for this. I invited you for lunch and I insist on paying.

We can also use words like someone, somebody, no one, nobody, everyone, everybody, especially in speaking:

Somebody call a doctor. Quick!

Everybody sit down, please.

So, we often form commands with "you", "somebody" or "everybody", etc, for example, "You close the door", "Somebody call a doctor", "Everybody sit down".

But, Could we form commands with "we, he, she, it, they", for example, "we/they do it", "he/she open the door" (no "s" after "open" because it's not the simple present)?

And, could we form negative commands with "you don't", for example, "you don't open the door"?

  • I find this question to be somewhat obnoxious. And if you language is not English, I'm sure that's true in it as well.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


You can't command yourself to do something. You can merely state an intention, as in we shall do it.

It's most unusual to begin a command with you. Rather than You don't open the door we would generally just say Don't open the door. The you is understood. It's possible to construct a scene in which three or more people are involved. A teacher might say to a pupil: You don't open the door; let him do it. But the teacher would be far more likely to use first names: John don't open the door; let Michael do it.

But it's common to use you in front of advice. You shouldn't open the door as the wind will cover the room with dust. You don't do it this way.

He, she & they
Here you can construct indirect instructions: He/she/they must remain behind.
But you can't address someone as he or she in the imperative.

Somebody, everybody & nobody
There's no problem using these in the imperative, as you indicate. Nobody move and everybody freeze are classic bank robber lines!

  • In the movie "Star wars: the rise of skywalker", there is a scene, the bad guys on a motorbike are chasing the good guys & suddenly the bad guys flied in the air & the good guys say "They fly now". So, is it a command?
    – Tom
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 11:59
  • @Tom That's a description. No command is being communicated to them. On the other hand, you're close. It's possible for We fly now! to be considered an imperative. It's uncommon, but it exists. (It's not normal to think of you giving commands to yourself. But the intention and syntax can warrant that interpretation.) Commented May 24, 2020 at 12:55
  • 1
    I think this question is a take-the-piss question, really. I would not dignify it with an answer.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 14:49

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