In this lesson, you will find an introduction to the Imperative mood of Russian verbs. You will learn the forms for ты (informal, singular) and вы (formal or plural) as well as how to form and use imperfective and perfective verbs.


The reason we are examining this today is because the imperative mood is one of the most useful moods in the Russian language. Just like its English equivalent, the Russian imperative mood allows you to give commands, to make requests, to express desires, to give suggestions and to provide directions. When you think about the number of times you do these things within a single day, you’ll soon come to realize why the imperative mood is so important in our daily lives.


Regular Formation


In Russian, in order to form the imperative mood of a verb, you must first know whether it is a perfective or imperfective verb. If it’s an imperfective verb, you then need to work with the third person plural form in the present tense. If it’s a perfective verb, you need to work with the third person plural form in the future tense.


Then, for verbs whose stem ends in a vowel (Type I verbs) take the third person plural form, drop the verb’s ending and add the correct suffix:


  • Й for the singular or informal form (ты).
  • ЙТЕ for the plural or formal form (вы).


For example:


Ду́мать (to think):


  • ду́мают
  • ду́май/ду́майте


If it’s a reflexive verb, drop the verb’s ending and add:


  • ЙСЯ for the singular or informal form (ты).
  • ЙТЕСЬ for the plural or formal form (вы).


For example:


cтара́ться (to try):


  • стара́ются
  • стара́йся/стара́йтесь


For verbs whose stem ends in a consonant (Type II verbs) take the third person plural form, drop the verb’s ending and add:


  • И for the singular or informal form (ты).
  • ИТЕ for the plural or formal form (вы).


For example:


Проси́ть (to ask):


  • Про́сят
  • проси́/проси́те


If it’s a reflexive verb, drop the verb’s ending and add:


  • ИСЬ for the singular or informal form (ты).
  • ИТЕСЬ for the plural or formal form (вы).


For example:


Горди́ться (to be proud):


  • Гордятся
  • Горди́сь/горди́тесь


However, if the stress of the infinitive is on the stem of the verb, add and -ЬТЕ accordingly:  


Познако́мить (to get acquainted):


  • Познако́мят
  • познако́мь/познако́мьте


Не + Imperative


If you command someone not to do something, you would normally use the imperfective aspect, for example:


  • Не читайте эту газету! (Don't read this newspaper!)
  • Не говори мне об этом! (Don't talk to me about it!)


Special Cases


Case #1: Verbs ending in -ВАТЬ and preceded by -ДА, -ЗНА or -СТА form their impera­tive by dropping the ending -ТЬ of the infinitive and adding (for ты) or -ЙТЕ (for вы):


Давáть (to give):


  • Давáй
  • давáйте


Вставáть (to get up):


  • Вставáй
  • вставáйте


Case #2: The third person imperative is expressed by the particle ПУСТЬ and the third person singular or plural of the present tense or perfective future:


  • Пусть (он) пишет (Let him write).
  • Пусть (они) придут (Let them come).


Case #3: Russian also has a first person plural imperative construction, which is equivalent to the English “let's.” You use it when you want to suggest doing something together with someone.


If the verb is imperfective, you use the word давай (singular) or давайте (plural) and the verb in the infinitive, for example:


  • Давайте смотреть телевизор (Let's watch TV!)


If the verb is perfective, use the first person plural form of the verb without a subject, with or without the word давай, for example:


  • (Давай) пойдём в парк (Let's go to the park!)




Of course, as with any other rule, there are some exceptions here:


Imperfective verbs


Пить (to drink):


  • пей
  • пейте


шить (to sew):


  • шей
  • шейте


Лить (to pour):


  • Лей
  • лейте


бить (to beat):


  • Бей
  • бейте


есть (to eat):


  • ешь
  • ешьте


Perfective verbs


лечь (to lie down):


  • ляг
  • лягте


поехать (to go / to ride):


  • поезжай
  • поезжайте


Видеть (to see) and слышать (to hear) do not have imperative forms. However, смотри (look) and слушай (listen) are both commonly used.


Stress in the Imperative


Stress in the imperative falls on the same syllables as in the first person singular. The exceptions consist of a number of monosyllabic imperatives in which the stress must (of course) fall on the single syllable, as below:


  • жди (wait)
  • пой (sing)
  • не смейся (don’t laugh)


Usage of Perfective and Imperfective Imperatives


The choice of the proper aspect to use is sometimes a delicate matter. The basic principle of aspects is found again in the imperative: the Imperfective imperative stresses the action (continuous, repeated, habitual) whereas the Perfective instead stresses the result of a single action.


This is explained below:




The speaker’s attention is centered on the action itself or on the process.


  • Говорите, пожалуйста, громче.
  • Открывайте дверь осторожно!


The action is repeated; recommendations are expressed.


  • Звоните родителям чаще.
  • Покупайте только свежие продукты.


There is an inducement to carry out an action:


a) An invitation to carry out an action.


  • Приходите к нам в гости!


b) Permission to carry out an action.


  • Можно войти? - Входите.


c) The suggestion to begin or continue an action immediately: do it now!


  • Читайте, пожалуйста, текст.




The main thing is the result of the action.


  • Покажите, пожалуйста, тот словарь.
  • Дайте, пожалуйста, ручку.


The action is single, not repeated; expresses a request to do something, a demand, a command or advice.


  • Позвоните мне, пожалуйста, вечером. (request)
  • Купите эту книгу, она вам понравится. (advice)
  • Подготовьте , пожалуйста , отчёт. (command)


All of this might sound a bit confusing, but actually it is quite simple; you just have to practice!


Here are a few exercises online that might be helpful for you:



Учите русский и никогда не сдавайтесь! ;)  






Image Sources


Hero Image (CC0)