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In a writing exercise I sent to my English teacher, she wrote some comments evaluating my writing. Some comments were about what I did, and others were about what I should do. In the sentences about what I should do she used the Imperative form. But, one of the sentences was this one:

Put a touch of personal feeling in your conclusion.

The problem is that the word "Put" can be Preterit, Past Participle or Present Participle. So, how can I know if "Put" was used as a Preterit or to build an Imperative clause?

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I think you mean “present”, not “present participle”. The present participle of put is putting. – Jason Orendorff Apr 25 '11 at 19:25
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It has to be an imperative; if it were preterit, it would have a subject (“You put a touch of …”).

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Yep. It's important to remember that the imperative is the only place in English where you can omit the subject (outside of very informal registers), so if the subject is missing then it must be imperative. – JSBձոգչ Apr 25 '11 at 15:59
@JSBangs Good point. I remembered that the Imperative form has an understood "you", but I didn't had notice that it's the only kind of sentence in which the subject is omited. – Ed. Brazil Apr 25 '11 at 19:55

With a lot of English phrases, the purpose of a word is implied by its context. In this case, it an order, so it would have to be imperative.

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