As you recall, mood shows how a speaker treats an action. The indicative mood treats an action as a fact. The subjunctive mood treats action as a wish or idea. The imperative mood treats action as a command. There are other ways of seeing that a job gets done, though, than simply issuing orders.
The English words “imperative” and “emperor” are related by the base imperā-, meaning “command.” “Emperor” comes from the Latin imperā tor, which is a military rank roughly equivalent to our “general.” You may think of ancient Rome as always having been led by emperors, but, in fact, emperors didn't head the Roman government until 68
Giving direct commands is essentially a second person phenomenon — someone tells you to do something. In English, imperative mood is the infinitive without the usual “to.” Also, the form doesn't vary between giving an order to one person or to many. To make the command negative, you just add “don't” in front.
Affirmative Singular: Knock it off, kid!
Affirmative Plural: Knock it off, you guys!
Negative Singular: Don't take candy from strangers, Bobby.
Negative Plural: Don't take candy from strangers, boys.
Latin makes the imperative mood by a process similar to the English one, though it isn't quite as easy. In Latin, you also begin by trimming the present infinitive, specifically the final -re. To form the plural, the ending -te is added to the stem. Third conjugation verbs experience a predictable stem vowel change.
Table 18-1 The Imperative Active
Just as English adds “don't” to the imperative to make it negative, Latin adds a word to the infinitive. The word Latin uses to express a negative command is nī lī,or nī lī te, which is actually the imperative of the verb nī lī,nī lle. Since nī lī means “to be unwilling,” negative commands in Latin are rather quaint. Nī lī mē occidere! (“Don't kill me!”) actually orders the would-be murderer not to want to do the deed. (Be unwilling to kill me!)
The verbs dī -cō , dū cō , faciō, and ferō have slightly irregular imperatives. Due to the fact that these verbs were so common in everyday use, they were clipped down to one-syllable words, namely: dī -c, dū c, fac, and fer. Their plurals are fairly predictable (dī -cite, dū cite, facite, and ferte), and the negative command follows normal rules (nō lī -dī -cere, “don't tell,” etc., …).
In addition to active voice forms for the imperative mood, there are also passive voice forms. While any verb that can take passive voice forms can appear in the imperative passive, usually only deponent verbs are found in Latin literature.
Table 18-2 The Imperative Passive
The imperative passive forms, in the singular, employ the alternate personal ending for the second person singular passive. That is to say, it uses -re instead of -ris. The result is a singular imperative passive that is identical to the present infinitive active. In the case of deponents, of course, the form resembles what the present infinitive active would have looked like had they had any active infinitives.
In the plural, imperative passive forms are the same as the second person plural, present indicative passive. There you will find the regular personal ending -minī.
Indirect questions in English and Latin share construction similar to what you learned for indirect discourse. First there is a main verb of saying, thinking, knowing, or perceiving, then a question word leading off a clause with a verb in the subjunctive mood.
Commands can also be reported indirectly. In this type of indirect discourse, a third construction comes into play.
Caesar mī litibus imperā vit ut flū men transī rent.
Ego identidem monitus sum nēū llum fidem istī habē rem.
This construction should look quite familiar. It is the exact same thing used in purpose clauses! So, if both constructions begin with the subordinating conjunctions ut or nēfollowed by a verb in the subjunctive, how are you supposed to be able to tell them apart? There is the usual reply to this question — context — but there are also a couple of other things that might tip you off.
First, consider the real spirit of the meanings embedded in these two constructions (i.e., purpose and indirect command). Using our examples again, the purpose of Caesar's order was to get his men over to the other side of the river. You can also imagine the original command:Mī litē s, flū men transī te! So, with respect to sense, they are really one and the same idea.
Second, the easiest way to spot this construction is by the sort of verb that introduces it. This kind of indirect discourse starts off like the other two types, namely with a verb of saying, thinking, knowing, or perceiving. In the case of indirect command, however, there is a short list of verbs that involves notions of getting someone else to do something that often introduces indirect commands.
imperā re alicui ut … … … … … (to order someone to …)
persuā dē re alicui ut… … … … (to persuade someone to …)
hortā rī aliquem ut … … … … … (to encourage someone to …)
monē re aliquem ut … … … … (to warn or advise someone to …)
ī rā re aliquem ut … … … … … (to beg someone to …)
rogī aliquem ut … … … … … (to ask someone to …)
petere ab aliquī ut … … … … … (to ask someone to …)
precā rī ab aliquī ut … … … … (to pray or beg someone to …)
quaerere ab aliquī ut… … … … (to ask someone to …)
Note that some of the verbs take dative objects, some take accusative objects, and others use a prepositional phrase, namely ā plus the ablative.
A main verb of saying, thinking, knowing, or perceiving does not necessarily have to begin any form of indirect discourse. It is just as possible to hear a bird chirping, as it is to hear that Lucius Cornelius Sulla is marching on Rome.