Negative imperatives are easier, because their word order is the same as that of all other simple verb conjugations: any object, reflexive, and/or adverbial pronouns precede the verb and the negative structure surrounds the pronoun(s) + verb:
Finis ! - Finish!
Ne finis pas ! - Don't finish!
Ne le finis pas ! - Don't finish it!
Lisez ! - Read!
Ne lisez pas ! - Don't read!
Ne le lisez pas ! - Don't read it!
Ne me le lisez pas ! - Don't read it to me!
Affirmative commands are more complicated, for several reasons.
1. The word order is for affirmative commands is different from that of all other verb tenses/moods: any pronouns follow the verb and are connected to it and to each other with hyphens.
Finis-le ! - Finish it!
Allons-y ! - Let's go!
Mangez-les ! - Eat them!
Donne-lui-en ! - Give him some!
2. The order of the pronouns in affirmative commands is slightly different from all other verb tenses/moods (see table at the bottom of the page):
Envoie-le-nous ! - Send it to us!
Expliquons-la-leur ! - Let's explain it to them!
Donnez-nous-en ! - Give us some!
Donne-le-moi ! - Give it to me!
3. The pronouns me and te change to the stressed pronouns moi and toi...
Lève-toi ! - Get up!
Parlez-moi ! - Talk to me!
Dis-moi ! - Tell me!
...unless they are followed by y or en, in which case they contract to m' and t'
Va-t'en ! - Go away!
Faites-m'y penser. - Remind me about it.
4. When a tu command is followed by the pronouns y or en, the final s is not dropped from the verb conjugation:
Vas-y ! - Go away!
Parles-en. - Talk about it.
Page 1: Introduction to the French imperative
Page 2: Imperative conjugations
Page 3: Imperative word order
Test on imperative word order
|Order of pronouns for affirmative imperative|
|moi / m'|
toi / t'
|Order of pronouns for negative imperative|
(and all other tenses and moods)