Types of Imperatives


In Circadian we publish books that call people to action. One way a text can bring people to action is making use of imperatives. Let´s look at 7 different types of use of imperative:

1.- MANDATORY: the authority and power to express an order or command for others to be performed. It is obligatory and not meant to be avoided, it is meant to be executed without interpretation, it expects a pre-established outcome: the behavior is known beforehand (control). Example: “I order you to leave this room”

2.- INSTRUCTIONS: to tell step by step how something works or functions (manual). Example: “Use your feet to walk and leave this room.”

3.- RECOMMENDATION: to advise others (expressing personal preference). To claim/believe that something is worth of being done/performed. It has the intention to influence the other´s behavior. Example: “Leave this room. It will make you feel good”

4.- SUGGESTION: a directive without coercion that can potentially evoke indirect associations. It indicates the existence of possible outcomes without knowing them in advance: it is open to interpretation. Example: “Leave this room. You never know what it is out there waiting for you”

5.- ETHICAL IMPERATIVE: something of vital importance or of great consequence (implies derivative actions, effects, things will not be the same any longer) = sense of urgency. (im-parare: to make ready): readiness to change something or to move and act. 2 types of ethical imperative: categorical: we need/must/should do X or Hypothetical: IF we want X it would be useful to do Y. Example: “You must leave this room now. Somebody might need your help out there”

6.- ENCOURAGING: to stimulate or motivate others to act or do something. The imperatives motivates the other, it says “Yes” to an action = empowerment, invitation to take an initiative. Example: “Leave this room, i know you can make it! Stop being isolated.”

7.- ABSOLUTE IMPERATIVE: to ask for the impossible. An impossible demand that is unrealizable!: “Humans can only advance as long as they follow the impossible”. Example: “Fly out of this room”

Note: those seven forms of imperative legitimize different ways of understanding communication and inter-subjective relation, and therefor, they all have different political and ethical implications.

Leave a Comment