We use the imperative mood (повелительное наклонение) when we tell other people what to do (command, recommendations, requests). There are 3 forms of Imperatives:
- we offer to do something together (the speaking person will be taking part in this action): Let’s do it – Давай(те) это сделаем!
- we are addressing to someone to do something: Do it. – Сделай(те) это!
- we are talking about the third person: Let her do it – Пусть она это сделает.
- So if we are going to take part in the action, we use the word “давай” (let’s) plus verb. If we are speaking to more than one person or if we’re speaking formally we use the word “давайте” instead.
Example, давай(те) работать – let’s work
Note that we use infinitive forms only with imperfective verbs. We use “we-form” with perfective verbs : Давай пойдём (let’s go). More about aspects of verbs read here.
- If we’re addressing to the second person, we use one of these endings -и, -й, -ь. For plural or formal form (вы) we have to add -те after the ending (-ите, -йте, -ьте). So here is the table which helps you to choose the correct ending.
And for reflexive verbs don’t forget to add the suffix -ся or -сь after the ending. For example,
Познакомься, это мой друг Марк.
More about reflexive verbs read here.
But you have to remember many exceptions: скажи, напиши, расскажи, люби, обними, подержи etc.
_______________________ NOTE FOR VERY CURIOUS PEOPLE______________________________________
These verbs (сказать, написать, рассказать, любить) in “they-form” (third person plural) don’t have the last syllable stressed (они скажут, они напишут, они расскажут, они любят). And according to the rule if there is a consonant before the ending we have to look at the stress. If the last syllable is stressed the ending is -и. In case if any other syllable is stressed the ending is -ь. So you might get confused, why they have the ending -и in the imperative form instead of -ь (скажи, напиши, расскажи, люби). Well, there is some logic here. At least I could find it.
The reason why we have so many exceptions is because you really have to define the stress by putting the verb into the “I-form” (not “they-form”):
- я пишу – они пишут,
- я скажу – они скажут,
- я люблю – они любят.
In this case we would have the last syllable stressed and everything would be easy. So you might be questioning the very logical question – why do we put the infinitive into the they-form when we could put it into the I-form. I thought about it a lot. The problem is that, lot of changing happens only in I-form. For example, you always replace the letter “д” with “ж” (видеть – я вижу, ходить – я хожу) or extra “л” after some letters (любить – я люблю). And all those replacements and extra letters don’t happen in the imperative form. So this is why it is easier to take they-form. It will help you not to use wrong consonants.
лететь – я лечу – они летят. (we have a replacement with the “ч” for “I-form”). The imperative form is “лети”.
So we cannot use the “I-form” for defining the imperative. Otherwise it would be “лечи” and this is wrong.
- And the last form of imperatives is for the third person (он, она, оно, они)
We have to use the word “пусть” or “пускай” (there is not difference) and the verb matching with the subject.
- Если он хочет работать, пусть работает.
- Если они хотят работать, пускай работают.