I'm trying to write something using the "imperative mood". Would it be okay if I used the word "should"?

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    Don't use should. The imperative mood is an order, an instruction. – Andrew Leach May 18 '15 at 20:27
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    No. You subject missing, bare infinitive verb, like Get out of here! is imperative construction. Meaning is not grammar. Grammar definitions must be about grammar, not meaning. Otherwise it's circular. That's the cause of maybe 60% of the closed questions here. – John Lawler May 18 '15 at 20:51

In formal grammar, the use of "should" is incompatible with the imperative mood in English. The imperative mood is generally very obvious (at least in second-person constructions) because of a missing subject.

Go to the store.
Pick up your clothes.

The conjugation of imperative verbs in English is independent of quantity (we use the infinitive form of the verb), so it can be difficult to determine who are the subjects of the command. Sometimes the subject is explicitly mentioned (referred to as a direct address, and is used in any type of sentence). The subject is still "technically" missing from the imperative sentence.

Kids, come home by five to get ready for supper.
Mom, stop pestering us.

"Should" is just one of many helping (auxiliary) verbs. They are not able to be used with infinitives or imperative mood infinitive-form verbs.

Go to the store.
You should go to the store.
You will go to the store.

The second sentence is a suggestion and the third is definitely commanding, but neither is in the imperative mood.



Imperative forms express a direct command (or request) without 'should', as opposed to indicative, as an alternative.

Let's consider the following:

Go there now! = You should go there now.

(Please note the punctuation mark at the end of the sentences!)


"Should" is not a verb, let alone an imperative. "should" + is also not imperative as it's a suggestion, not a command.

  • 2
    Yes, should is a verb; it's a Modal Auxiliary Verb. The "Imperative Mood" does not exist in English, but imperative constructions do. And the grammar of a sentence is not defined by what it means, but by how its parts go together. – John Lawler May 18 '15 at 20:48
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    There are schools that would separate modals and verbs. – Edwin Ashworth May 18 '15 at 21:54

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