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Giving Orders in French ~ Donner les ordres

Learn the different verb formulas for giving orders in French


You probably know that the imperative is commonly used to give orders in French, but what about other constructions? Have you ever seen another verb form used and figured it was a mistake? It probably wasn't - in fact there are several different ways to give orders in French. Click the names of the verb forms for more detail.

Imperative The imperative mood is the most common verb form for giving orders. It has three conjugations: tu, nous, and vous.
  Ferme la porte. Close the door.
  Allons-y ! Let's go!
Mettez-le sur la table. Put it on the table.
Infinitive The infinitive is used for impersonal commands to an unknown audience, as in warnings, instruction manuals, and recipes. It is used in place of the vous form of the imperative.
  Mettre toujours la ceinture de sécurité. Always wear your seatbelt.
  Ne pas utiliser la porte à droite. Do not use the door on the right.
Mélanger les épices avec de l'eau. Mix the spices with some water.
Future The future tense is used for polite orders and requests, in place of the vous form of the imperative.
  Vous fermerez la porte, s'il vous plaît. Close the door, please.
  Vous me donnerez du thé, s'il vous plaît. Give me some tea, please.
Vous vous assiérez, s'il vous plaît. Please sit down.
Subjunctive The subjunctive mood can be used as an order or wish for all grammatical persons. It may or may not be preceded by a clause.
  J'ordonne que tu me laisses tranquille ! I demand that you leave me alone!
Que j'aie de la chance cette fois ! May I / Let me be lucky this time!
  Qu'il sorte ! Let him / May he go out!
Que nous trouvions la bonne solution ! Let us find the right solution!
J'exige que vous le fassiez ! I demand that you do it!
  Qu'ils mangent de la brioche ! Let them eat brioche!
In addition to the above commands with conjugated verbs, the expression défense de followed by a verb in the infinitive is commonly used on signs.
  Défense d'entrer Do not enter
  Défense de fumer No smoking
Related Video
French Dialogues: Shopping
French Dialogues: Eating Out

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