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Lesson Plan for Teaching the Imperative Mood in German

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/5/2012

The imperative mood makes direct commands, expresses requests, and grants or denies permission. The following article describes a lesson plan for teaching basic commands in German to first year English-speaking German students and includes examples to illustrate the German imperative verb form.

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    The Imperative Mood in English

    Begin by discussing the imperative mood in English. Explain that the imperative mood is a verb form in English that speakers can use to make direct commands, express requests, and grant or deny permission. For a lesson plan for teaching English commands, please see the first section in the article Lesson Plan for Teaching the Imperative Mood in Spanish.

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    Commands in German

    Introduce the imperative mood (der Imperativ) in German. Explain that the imperative mood is similarly used in German to make direct commands, express requests, and grant or deny permission. For example, the following German sentences contain verbs in the imperative mood:

    • Gehen Sie weg! "Go away!"
    • Sei glücklich! "Be happy!"
    • Trinkt die Milch! "Drink the milk!"
    • Essen wir die Plätzchen! "Let's eat the cookies!"
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    Sie Forms

    Explain the steps for forming the imperative mood of verbs with the subject pronoun Sie, which are to conjugate the verb into the second person formal of the present indicative tense and invert the subject.

    For example, the following chart identifies the infinitive, Sie indicative, and Sie imperative of some common German verbs:

    Infinitive – Indicative – Imperative

    • bleiben – Sie bleiben – bleiben Sie
    • essen – Sie essen – essen Sie
    • geben – Sie geben – geben Sie
    • kommen – Sie kommen – kommen Sie
    • trinken – Sie trinken – trinken Sie
    • sprechen – Sie sprechen – sprechen Sie

    Explain the pragmatic use of the Sie form of the imperative. The Sie form of all German verb conjugations is the formal form. Formal forms are always used with strangers, casual acquaintances, superiors, professional colleagues, people with formal titles, and others not well known to the speaker.

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    Du Forms

    Explain the steps for forming the imperative mood of verbs with the subject du: conjugate the verb into the second person singular familiar of the present indicative tense; omit the conjugated verb ending; and omit the subject.

    For example, the following chart identifies the infinitive, du indicative, and du imperative of some common German verbs:

    Infinitive – Indicative – Imperative

    • bleiben – du bleibst – bleib(e)
    • essen – du isst – iss
    • geben – du gibst – gib
    • kommen – du kommst – komm
    • trinken – du trinkst – trink
    • sprechen – du sprichst – sprich

    Explain the pragmatic use of the du form of the imperative. The du form of all German verb conjugations is the singular familiar form. Familiar forms should be used only with individual family members, close friends, children, peers, and animals.

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    Ihr Forms

    Explain the steps for forming the imperative mood of verbs with the subject ihr, which are to conjugate the verb into the second person singular familiar of the present indicative tense and omit the subject.

    For example, the following chart identifies the infinitive, ihr indicative, and ihr imperative of some common German verbs:

    Infinitive – Indicative – Imperative

    • bleiben – ihr bleibt – bleibt
    • essen – ihr esst – esst
    • geben – ihr gebt – gebt
    • kommen – ihr kommt – kommt
    • trinken – ihr trinkt – trinkt
    • sprechen – ihr sprecht – sprecht

    Explain the pragmatic use of the ihr form of the imperative. The ihr form of all German verb conjugations is the plural familiar form. Familiar forms should be used only with multiple family members, close friends, children, peers, and animals.

  • slide 6 of 7

    Wir Forms

    Explain the steps for forming the imperative mood of verbs with the subject wir, which are to conjugate the verb into the first person plural of the present indicative tense and then invert the subject.

    For example, the following chart identifies the infinitive, wir indicative, and wir imperative of some common German verbs:

    Infinitive – Indicative – Imperative

    • bleiben – wir bleiben – bleiben wir
    • essen – wir essen – essen wir
    • geben – wir geben – geben wir
    • kommen – wir kommen – kommen wir
    • trinken – wir trinken – trinken wir
    • sprechen – wir sprechen – sprechen wir

    Explain the pragmatic use of the wir form of the imperative. The wir form of the imperative in German is similar to the let's construction in English as in let's eat and let's drink.

  • slide 7 of 7

    Sein Forms

    Explain the imperative form of the verb sein. The verb sein "to be" is irregular in all forms of the imperative. The following chart identifies the indicative and the imperative of sein:

    Indicative – Imperative

    • Sie sind – seien Sie
    • du bist – sei
    • ihr seid – seid
    • wir sind – seien wir


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