← Previous

Beginner 2 > Lesson 5

Lesson 5. What are Imperative Sentences?

You will hear the term “imperative mood” used a lot in Korean grammar lessons. So what exactly is it?

Sentences in imperative mood, i.e, imperative sentences, refer to any sentence where you directly tell the other person/people to do or not do something. It could be a command, request, advice, encouragement, suggestion, recommendation etc.

Some examples of imperative sentences in English would be, 

“Clean the toilet.”

“Call me.”

“Cheer up.”

“Don’t eat too much.”

“Pass me the salt.”

“Please be on time.”

“Read this book when you have time because it’s so good.”


The similarity between Korean imperative sentences and English ones would be that a present-tense verb is directly used without attaching any auxiliary verbs like could you? would you? etc. 

Clean the toilet.” = 화장실 청소해.

Call me.” = 전화해요.

Cheer up.” = 힘내세요.

Don’t eat too much.” = 너무 많이 먹지 마요*. (*How to say, “Don’t” will be covered in Lesson 29 of Beginner 2.)

Pass me the salt.” = 소금 좀 주세요.

“Please be (=come) on time.” = 늦지 않게 오세요.

Read this book when you have time because it’s so good.” = 이 책 재미있으니까 꼭 읽어요


Imperative sentences in Korean aren’t necessarily impolite, and there are many ways to make these sentences sound polite by using different verb forms. 

One most common way is using the verb’s honorific form.

Every verb can have its honorific form, usually by adding –시다 after a verb’s stem. Considering its nature, honorific verb is almost always used in 존댓말, unless you’re being sarcastic. In 존댓말 ending, 시다 is conjugated to “-세요.” 

In the next two lessons, we will learn more in-depth abut these honorific verbs, including how to conjugate & use them appropriately in your sentences.