Intermediate Low Imperative and infinitive

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Grammar Notes

1) The imperative mood expresses a command. It is used to give an order. In Russian the type of command you are giving will determine the tense and aspect of the verb you choose. In you-form the use of the imperfective sounds less categorical and therefore more polite than the use of the perfective. Imperatives formed from the imperfective aspect are used for general advice, invitations and most negative commands, whereas imperatives formed from the perfective aspect are used for specific commands, including strong negative warnings — about actions that a person might unintentionally perform. Сf: invitation to do something versus instruction to do something on a single occasion: Садитесь, пожалуйста. Sit down, please vs Подойди и сядь поближе. Come and sit near me; По дороге домой заходи ко мне Call in to see me on the way home vs По дороге домой зайди в аптеку Call in at the pharmacy on the way home. Listen to the song about the intense pain the lyrical hero is feeling because of her breakup. She goes on living, but not without the pain -- a tragic story of love gone sour. If you're not a rap fan, this song is still worth listening to for grammar’s sake and for a good example of a use of an imperative in colloquial Russian. You can hear the imperatives formed from perfective verbs like Замри Stand still! Расстай Fade away! Пойми Get me right! Уйди Get out! (note: positive imperatives of verbs of motions derived from unidirectional verbs). The singer is trying to erase the memory of love because looking back on all the great memories brings her the intense pain, so she has uttered imperatives that intended to convey momentary, complete action commands.

2) Where an order or a prohibition is expressed, the imperative is often rendered by an infinitive form. Such a grammatical structure is characteristic of public notices. In an instruction the infinitive is perfective, cf. Пристегнуть ремни. Fasten seatbelts!, whereas in a prohibition with the particle не it is imperfective, e.g. Руками не трогать. Do not touch! (on museum’s signs), Не прислоняться. Do not lean! (on doors in subway). In this song focus on the infinitives that convey the meaning of the imperatives Убить To kill! Забыть To forget!

3) Also very frequently a prohibition or an exhortation may be couched in the expressions with надо or another modal construction (for example, должен), cf.: Нужно торопиться We must hurry.Тебе надо прийти сразу же. You must come at once. They are used for strong negation urging someone not to undertake an action. Cf.: Хотеть не надо You should not want to!, Терпеть не надо You should not be patient!