At the moment the only way we have to give an order is to ask politely for someone to do something.
|Please call me.
If we want to add force to these requests we need to use the imperative.
Group 1 verbs have two forms of the imperative.
Note that from the above the imperative of the auxiliary verb becomes であれ.
Group 2 verbs have three forms of the imperative, which I’m going to call the literary, verbal, and archaic because of their general usage.
Group 3 verbs also have three forms of the imperative.
In terms of general usage, the archaic form is a lot softer than others. For example, it will be used by a parent to tell their children to eat or go to bed.
|It’s already 10 o’clock so get to bed quickly.
The addition of よ to the imperative can help soften it.
As I have alluded to previous, Japanese is a language which places much emphasis on the underlying power dynamics. The imperative form (especially the forms other than the archaic) of the verb very much debases the listener and therefore needs to be used carefully. Even in jocular manner, a subordinate in a company would never use it towards their boss; nor would anyone towards a customer.
|Everyone’s waiting so come quickly!
|Judge for yourself!
|If you do a half-baked job then it will be a problem for everyone so do it properly.
Honorific verbs deserve a special mention because they are used to form a number of very common phrases in Japanese. Honorific verbs conjugate as group 1 verbs and so have two forms of the imperative. The three most important verbs are given in the table below.
You may have noticed that archaic form of the imperative of the verb “to deign” is the standard ending with the te form to say “please”.
|Please come quickly.
To this you may also hear ませ added. Indeed, enter any shop or restaurant in Japan and the staff will welcome you with a polite order to enter their premises!
|Please come in!
|Please don’t forget my book.
The imperative form of なさる is used with some common phrases.
What about ordering someone to not to do something? This one is simple: we just add な to the dictionary form of the verb.
|If you’re going to break your promise don’t make it in the first place.
|Scold the child for making international calls from their mobile.
|Get your head out of the clouds!
The Imperative with Adjectives
Finally, while adjectives technically have an imperative form you will rarely see them used unless in the form of an old saying.
|For better or worse.