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I am writing a piece of software related to meetings.

Participants are invited to a meeting using a button which the command "invite" is written to be pressed by the person who wished to do the inviting. Is the word "invite" in this context the imperative form of the verb?

If I now look at a list of my own meetings to which I've been invited my status is "invited" with respect to those meetings. What is the form of the verb of my status?

I can now "accept" or "decline" using similar buttons. Are these also imperative?

Both requestor and requestee can view their meetings. In each case there will be a status for each participant of "invited", "accepted" or "declined". I take it they have the same form as "invited", above and are the same for no matter who is looking.

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In the context you specify, invite is indeed an imperative form, a command from the operator to the software program, and likewise accept and decline. Invited is a past participle, functioning either as an adjective, as in “Linda is invited,” or as part of a present perfect passive construction, “Linda has been invited.” But while the host invites (by clicking the “invite” button), it is the potential guest who either accepts or declines (by clicking either of those two buttons), so the forms accepted and declined (for the status of the potential guest) are not entirely parallel with invited. The expanded form there might be either “Linda accepted” or “Linda has accepted.” In the former case, accepted is a finite verb in simple past tense; in the latter, it is a past participle in a present perfect construction.

  • The most sensible expansion of status is "the current status of Linda's invite is that she has been invited" which fits with the above. – stevemarvell Aug 5 '14 at 13:08
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Just like a button that says PUSH, a button that says INVITE is an imperative verb form.

As you suggest in your question, once the inviter presses the button designating a target invitee, the target is then invited. In this case, the past participle is an adjective form describing the status of the solicited person (no matter who is looking at it). So are the mutually exclusive categories of accepted and declined.

It is important to carefully distinguish between commands and statuses (but you already know that).

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I disagree with the previous answers in that I think the 'invite', 'accept' and 'decline' forms are here most naturally understood as infinitives. If you were writing the application in French you would, I believe, use 'inviter' (infinitive) rather than 'invite' (imperative singular).

  • As it happens, I'm writing it in English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic, though the code base is in English. – stevemarvell Aug 5 '14 at 13:10
  • When I set my Facebook to French just now I get a lot of infinitive buttons ("Retrouver des amis", "Annuler" etc.) and no imperative buttons. I think the same goes for German and Spanish. I know no Arabic. – Haukur Þorgeirsson Aug 5 '14 at 13:13
  • Is that not a French thing? I'm not sure it extends to English which treats the infinitive quite differently. – stevemarvell Aug 5 '14 at 13:16
  • The fact that this form is rendered by the infinitive when translated into French tells you very little about what it is in English. Having said that, the infinitive and the imperative are always identical in Modern English, so it's a bit pointless arguing about which it is. – Colin Fine Aug 5 '14 at 13:51
  • It's not specifically French. Facebook in German also has buttons with the infinitive ("Freunde finden", "Abbrechen" etc.) and the same goes for Spanish ("Buscar amigos", "Cancelar"). The English buttons are most naturally intepreted the same way. Imagine a button that says "Listen". You're not clicking on it to order the computer to listen to something. So it's not an imperative. You're clicking on it because you yourself want to listen. You could think of "listen" as short for "(I want to) listen". – Haukur Þorgeirsson Aug 5 '14 at 13:54

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