Learn the imperative with this flight safety video

Hey everyone! Here’s another flight safety instruction lesson (previous lessons include a rapping flight attendant and airline vocabulary practice).

This time we can review some grammar:  the imperative.

The imperative is used to tell someone to do something, or not to do something. It’s a command.

Since airline safety instruction demonstrations tell people what to do—and not to do—flight attendants use the imperative throughout their speeches.

How to form the imperative

Forming the imperative is really easy:

  1. Use the present tense.
  2. Use the "you" subject form.


Because the imperative is used by someone to give a command to someone else. For one person to tell someone else to do something, they have to say “you, do this” or “you, don’t do that.”

The speaker is commanding one person to do something (“you” singular) or a several people to do something (“you” plural). But we don’t use the word “you”:

  • You, put your bag away. (Incorrect)
  • You, turn off your telephone. (Incorrect)

The subject is understood, so we do not use the word “you”. The correct form is simply:

  • Put your bag away.
  • Turn off your telephone.
  • Don’t smoke in the restroom.

Even if the person is directly addressed, the subject is still you. For example:

  • Sir, turn off your computer. (subject is "you," not "he")

To make an imperative more polite, we can add the word “please”.

  • Sir, please turn off your computer. Thank you.
  • Please do not stand in the aisle.

To practice listening to imperatives, watch this safety demonstration. You will get the chance to listen to an Australian accent.

Take the imperative quiz

Take the quiz to test your understanding of the imperative.  Insert the correct imperative forms into the blank spaces below:

blow  /  close  /  cover  /  have  /  insert  /  lift  /  open  /  pull  /  pull  /  slip  /  take  /  tighten

1. _____________ your window blind for takeoff and landing.

2. _____________ the metal end into the buckle until it clicks. And, _____________ on the loose end to tighten. To open, _____________ on the top of the buckle.

3. ______________ a moment to look around and find your closest exit. It may be behind you.

4. If the cabin loses pressure, _____________ one of the masks down to your face and _____________ your nose and mouth.

5. ______________ the elastic band around your head and _____________ by pulling the loose ends at each side of the mask.

6. If needed, _____________ into the red tubes to inflate the life vest.

7. _____________ your tray table during takeoff.

8. _____________ a pleasant flight!

Quiz answers

1. open;  2. insert, pull, lift;  3. take;  4. pull, cover;  5. slip, tighten;  6. blow;  7. close;  8. have

Your turn

Did you like the video? Have questions? Please leave me a comment below!

› the imperative

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