Commands and requests

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Commands and requests

Post by GrandPiano » 14 Apr 2017 13:57

How does your conlang or natlang deal with different kinds of imperatives? How does it distinguish between affirmative and negative imperatives? Singular and plural imperatives? Polite and impolite/casual imperatives?

:eng: English

English simply uses the infinitive form of a verb for commands:

Help me.

Commands are made negative with the auxiliary verb/negative adverb contraction "don't":

Don't help me.

There are multiple ways to turn a command into a polite request, the most basic being to add "please":

Please help me. or Help me, please.
Please don't help me. or Don't help me, please

Even more polite:

Could you help me?
Could you please help me? or Could you help me, please?

:esp: Spanish

The informal singular imperative form of most verbs is identical (by coincidence) to the third-person singular present indicative form:


Help me. (singular, informal)

However, some verbs have an irregular imperative form; for example, the imperative form of tener "to have" is ten. The informal singular imperative is the only imperative form that is ever irregular.

Spanish object pronouns are normally placed directly before the verb as separate words; however, when the verb is in the infinitive, imperative, or present participle form, object pronouns are cliticized to the end of the verb.

The formal equivalent uses the third-person singular present subjunctive form of the verb. The third person is used because the formal second-person pronouns, usted (sg.) and ustedes (sg.), are treated as third-person pronouns for the purpose of verb agreement, which reflects their etymologies as noun phrases: usted comes from vuestra merced "your mercy", and ustedes comes from vuestras mercedes "your mercies".


Help me. (singular, formal)

The original informal plural imperative is today only still used in dialects where the informal second-person plural pronouns vosotros (m.) and vosotras (f.) are still used, which is mainly certain parts of Spain, including the capital, Madrid. Most of the Spanish-speaking world no longer uses this imperative form. It is formed by replacing the -r in the infinitive ending of the verb (-ar, -er, or -ir) with -d. When an object pronoun is cliticized, the -d is deleted*.

Comed. (infinitive comer "to eat")

Eat. (plural, informal)

Ayudame. (infinitive ayudarme "to help me")
ayud-ad=me (final -d in -ad deleted)

Help me. (plural, informal)

*With the exception of idos "go; leave (imp.)", which has a reflexive object but does not lose the -d.

In varieties of Spanish where vosotros is still used, the third-person singular present subjunctive form of a verb is used as the formal plural imperative; for everyone else, it is the only plural imperative:


Help me. (plural, formal for some)

Negative commands simply use the negative adverb no and the subjunctive form of the verb agreeing with whatever pronoun would serve as the subject. Thus, the negative imperative verb form is different from the affirmative verb form in informal speech but the same in formal speech:

No me ayudes.
[no me aˈjuð̞es]
no me ayud-es

Don't help me. (sg. inf.)

No me ayude.
[no me aˈjuð̞e]
no me ayud-e

Don't help me. (sg. frm.)

No me ayudéis.
[no me ajuˈð̞ejs]
no me ayud-éis

Don't help me. (pl. inf., not used in most dialects)

No me ayuden.
[no me aˈjuð̞en]
no me ayud-en

Don't help me. (plural, formal for some)

Both the informal and formal imperatives can be made polite using strategies similar to those used by English, including by adding por favor (literally "for favor"), which is equivalent to the English word "please":

Ayúdame por favor.
[aˈjuð̞ame poɾ faˈβ̞oɾ]
ayud-a=me por favor-Ø
help-2SG.FAM.IMP=1SG.OBJ for favor-SG

Help me please. (sg. inf.)

:chn: Mandarin

Affirmative commands are very similar to English; nothing marks the sentence as imperative other than context and the fact that the subject is usually left out (although the subject is often omitted in indicative sentences as well):

帮我。 (simplified)
幫我。 (traditional)
Bāng wǒ.
[pɑŋ˥ wɔ˨˩˦]
help 1[SG]
Help me.

While verbs are normally negated with 不 bù, commands are negated with either 别 (tr. 別) bié or 不要 bú yào (the former being a phonetic contraction of a latter, and the latter literally meaning "(you) don't want (to)"):

别帮我。 or 不要帮我。 (simplified)
別幫我。 or 不要幫我。 (traditional)
Bié bāng wǒ. or Bú yào bāng wǒ.
[pjɛ˧˥ pɑŋ˥ wɔ˨˩˦] or [pu˧˥ jɑʊ̯˥˩ pɑŋ˥ wɔ˨˩˦]
NEG.IMP help 1[SG] (or) NEG want help 1[SG]
Don't help me.

Like in English, the plain imperative often sounds rather blunt, so the word 请 (tr. 請) qǐng "please" (also a verb meaning "to request", perhaps the original meaning) can be added to soften it.

请帮我。 (simplified)
請幫我。 (traditional)
Qǐng bāng wǒ.
[t͡ɕʰiɤ̯ŋ˨˩ pɑŋ˥ wɔ˨˩˦]
please help 1[SG]
Please help me.

While there is no number or formality distinction in Mandarin imperatives, it is not uncommon in to include a second-person pronoun, for which there is both a number distinction and a formality distinction, as the subject; in my experience, this is especially common when 请 is used, perhaps because of its alternate use as a verb (in which case I suppose the pronoun is more of an indirect object than a subject):

请你帮我。 (simplified)
請你幫我。 (traditional)
Qǐng nǐ bāng wǒ.
[t͡ɕʰiɤ̯ŋ˧˥ ni˨˩ pɑŋ˥ wɔ˨˩˦]
please 2.FAM[SG] help 1[SG]
Please help me. (sg. inf.)

The 你 nǐ above could be replaced with 你们 nǐmen (pl. inf., tr. 你們), 您 (pl. frm.), or any other subject that the request might be directed at.
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Squall » 15 Apr 2017 04:25

:con: Juraban

[Please][Don't] help me [, please]
[oga,] [non] manule min [, oga].
[please], [NEG] help-IMP 1sg [, please].

[Please][Don't] Help me [, please] (pl)
sos [oga,] [non] manule min [, oga].
Collective_Interjection [please] [NEG] help-IMP 1sg [, please].

[Please]Let's [not] help me [, please]
[oga,] [non] manulamo min [, oga].
[please] [NEG] help-IMP.1pl 1sg [, please].

[Please][Don't] be helped by me.
[oga,] [non] manulese min.
[please] [NEG] help-PASS.IMP 1sg.
English is not my native language. Sorry for any mistakes or lack of knowledge when I discuss this language.
:bra: :mrgreen: | :uk: [:D] | :esp: [:)] | :epo: [:|] | :lat: [:S] | :jpn: [:'(]

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by masako » 15 Apr 2017 13:20


ya yote
VOC help
Help me.

ya yotek
VOC help-NEG
Don't help me.

ya yote'u
Help me, please

NOTE: The precative suffix is -te but the euphonious redundant syllable u is used here.

tsepa ta'ena yote ka
please 2s-P.1s help Q
Could you please help me? / Could you help me, please?

tsepa - please (actually comes from tse'e (seems; appear; have the appearance of) and pala (can; able to; possible), i.e. tsepa (please; does it appear possible; if you're able)

...but this is all reverse engineered, in reality I took tsepa from 제발

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Imralu » 15 Apr 2017 21:55

:tan: Swahili!

In Swahili, direct commands to a 2sg are simply the verb stem. From the verb kusaidia "to help", we have:
  • Saidia!
To 2pl, the suffix -ni is added and if the final vowel is an "a" it is changed to "e". All native Bantu verbs end in "a" which is basically an inflectional suffix indicating mood or sometimes tense/polarity. Many loan verbs, which are mostly from Arabic, do not end in "a" and with these verbs, no change takes place. I believe Arabic verbs that happen to end in "a" are treated as bantu verbs by analogy.
  • Saidieni!
    Help (all/both of you)!
There is no negative imperative. Instead, the subjunctive must be used.

Imperative with object prefix:

When the imperative is used with an animate object, the object must be indicated with a prefix on the verb. This is optional with inanimate objects. Putting an object prefix on the verb requires the final "a" to become "e". In cases where the subject and object prefixes are identical, such as 1sg, 1pl and 3pl, as well as all instances involving inanimate objects, the resulting form is ambiguous and looks the same as the subjunctive where the object is now the subject.
  • Nisaidie!
    Help me! (Imperative)
    I should help! (Subjunctive)
Generally, context is enough to make it clear, and if it's not, the subjunctive can be used. The following example is not ambiguous because the -(e)ni suffix is used for imperatives to 2pl or when 2pl is the object (in order to disambiguate from a 3pl.ANIMATE object because their object prefixes are identical).
  • Nisaidieni!
    Help me (all/both of you)!

The subjunctive is generally more polite than the direct imperative, however it may not be in the negative because there is no direct imperative form. The subjunctive requires the subject prefix, then an object prefix if applicable, and finally, any verb ending in "a" changes it to "e", which, along with the lack of a tense/aspect prefix between the subject and object indicates the subjunctive. (Verbs that don't end in -a have a bit more potential for ambiguity.)
  • Usaidie!
    You should help!
    Please help!

    You should help me!
    Please help me!

    You (both/all) should help!
    Please help!

    You (both/all) should help me.
    Please help me!
In the subjunctive, the negative prefix si- occurs between the subject and object prefixes.
  • Usisaidie!
    You shouldn't help!
    Don't help!

    You shouldn't help me!
    Don't help me!

    You (both/all) shouldn't help!
    Don't help!

    You (both/all) shouldn't help me.
    Don't help me!

Any request can be made more polite with the word tafadhali, either at the beginning or end of the sentence.


Apparently in Swahili, you don't ask someone to do something with "Can you" or other such indirect means of requesting - these will generally be answered factually, "Yes, I am able to do that" or "No, I can't." Instead you use the verb kuomba "to request, to ask for", followed by the subjunctive. Ninaomba or simply naomba (actually the aorist form, but frequently used as a short form for the present in 1sg) is essentially like "I would like" in a lot of situations.

So the peak of politeness for this phrase in Swahili would be something like:

Ninaomba unisaidie tafadhali!
ni-na-omb-a u-ni-saidi-e tafadhali
1sg-PRES-request-INDIC 2s-1s-help-SJV please
Would you be able to help me please?
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Iyionaku » 27 Jul 2017 13:26

Yélian uses the plain jussive form of the verb. A direct object precedes the verb if it's a personal pronoun. Otherwise the verb is in front.

Rat baldas.
1SG.OBL help-JUS.2SG
Help me.

Baldas an'áia.
help-JUS.2SG DEF.ANIM=woman
Help the woman.

Negative imperatives are formed like negative affirmatives: By adding the prefix ci- to the verb.

Rat cibaldas.
Don't help me.

Politeness can be evoked by a politeness particle, the most common one being acat (please)

Acat, rat baldas.
please 1SG.OBL help-JUS.2SG
Please help me.

Overly polite (but very common in the business world) is the structure "diselivaino pi" + verb in conditional mood, literally "I would be granted that..."

Diselivaino pi rat dibaldevem.
I'd be granted that you would help me.
Wipe the glass. This is the usual way to start, even in the days, day and night, only a happy one.

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Lambuzhao » 27 Jul 2017 19:16

Not to be picky, but this ought to be renamed 'Help me!', '¡Socorro!', or '911', or something of that ilk, since most of the examples deal with asking for help.

When I go looking for attestations to talk back to others in their own langs, it makes it that much easier to find. [:3]

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by marvelous » 28 Jul 2017 08:24

Deleted old post because I ended up confusing Lairäts with a different related conlang...

:con: Lairäts

Help me.
Nä tshäcapäj.
/næ tʃæˈcɑpæʒ/
nä tshä-cap-äj
IMP 2>1SG-help-MOM

Don't help me.
Nu tshäcapäj.
/nʌ tʃæˈcɑpæʒ/
n-u tshä-cap-äj
IMP NEG-2>1SG-help-MOM

Help me, please.
Nä tshäcapäj, geyirairehis.
/næ tʃæˈcɑpæʒ gejirɑɪˈreɦis/
nä tshä-cap-äj g-eyirairehi-s
IMP 2>1SG-help-MOM 1SG>2-beg-CONT

Don't help me, please.
Nu tshäcapäj, geyirairehis.
/nʌ tʃæˈcɑpæʒ gejirɑɪˈreɦis/
n-u tshä-cap-äj g-eyirairehi-s
IMP-NEG 2>1SG-help-MOM 1SG>2-beg-CONT

Could you help me?
Nä tshäcapäji?
/næ tʃæcɑˈpæʒi/
nä tshä-cap-äj-i
IMP 2>1SG-help-MOM-Q

Could you help me, please?
Nä tshäcapäji, geyirairehis?
/næ tʃæcɑˈpæʒi gejirɑɪˈreɦis/
nä tshä-cap-äj-i g-eyirairehi-s
IMP 2>1SG-help-MOM-Q 1SG>2-beg-CONT
:heb: I have gained self-respect and left. :yid:

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Dormouse559 » 04 Apr 2018 16:28

Silvish second-person imperatives mark formality and/or the number of the addressee. The singular is familiar, and the plural can also be a formal way of addressing a single person. I'll start with how to say "Help!" for reasons I explain below:

Edye !
Help! (familiar)

Edyet !
Help! (to more than one person or formal)

Now for "Help me". Affirmative imperatives with pronouns place the pronouns after the verb.

Edyeme !
Help me! (fam.)

Edyemme !
Help me! (to 1+/form.)

Comparing the two pairs of forms I've given, note how pronouns pull stress to the right, so that it stays on the penult (or the ult). As a result, Edye ! [ˈʔe.djə] became Edyeme ! [ʔəˈdje.mə].

To negate an imperative, add the word pa at the end. Negative imperatives place pronouns in front of the verb. The pronouns don't trigger stress shifts in this environment.

M' edye pa !
[ˈme.djə ˈpa]
Don't help me! (fam.)

M' edyet pa !
[məˈdjɛt ˈpa]
Don't help me! (to 1+/form.)

To make a polite request, add s' qu' eu te plêje or s' qu' eu vou pplêje (please), either before or after the imperative. With te, the phrase is familiar. With vou, it is formal or addresses multiple people.

Edyeme, s' qu' eu te plêje !
[ʔəˈdje.mə | skø.təˈplɛː.ʑə]
help-IMP.2SG-1SG.ACC if SBRD 3SG.NOM 2SG please-SBJV.3SG
Help me, please! (fam.)

Edyemme, s' qu' eu vou pplêje !
[ʔəˈdjɛ̃m.mə | skø.vuˈplɛː.ʑə]
help-IMP.2PL-1SG.ACC if SBRD 3SG.NOM 2PL please-SBJV.3SG
Help me, please! (to 1+/form.)

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by ixals » 04 Apr 2018 22:57

:con: Cissian

I had to do a lot of research for this, but I think I finally how Cissian will handle imperatives. The perfective is used for actions asked to be done/completed whereas the imperfective asks for merely doing something for a while. In this example, the first one would mean “Help me with this (so it's done)” and the second one means “Help me (just do it, for a while or not, I don't know)”, although the second one would be rarely used in this case.

Помóж мi!
/poˈmoʒ mʲi/
[poˈmɔʐ mʲi]
pomóž-∅ myi

“Help me!”

Помагай мi!
/po.maˈɦaj mʲi/
[po.mäˈɦäi̯ mʲi]
pomah-áy myi

“Help me!”

Negative imperatives normally take imperfective verbs because it wouldn't matter if you want someone to do it for a while or do it until it's done because in the end, you just don't want them to help you.

Не помагай мi!
/nʲe po.maˈɦaj mʲi/
[ɲe po.mäˈɦäi̯ mʲi]
nye pomah-áy myi

“Don't help me!”

The second person plural imperative would additionally add -tye at the end of the verb.

For polite commands and requests, prošú is added at the beginning of a sentence. It just means “please”, but it's a fossilised form of the first person singular present of prosyícyi (“to ask for, to request, to please”) which is just prosyím nowadays.

Прошу мi помочi!
/proˈʃu mʲi poˈmo.tʃʲi/
[pruˈʂu mʲi poˈmɔ.t͡ɕi]
prošú myi pomó-čyi
please 1SG.DAT help.PRF-INF

“Please help me!”

Прошу мi помагацi!
/proˈʃu mʲi po.maˈɦa.tsʲi/
[pruˈʂu mʲi po.mäˈɦä.t̪͡s̪ʲi]
prošú myi pomah-ácyi
please 1SG.DAT help.IMP-INF

“Please help me!”

Прошу мi не помагацi!
/proˈʃu mʲi nʲe po.maˈɦa.tsʲi/
[pruˈʂu mʲi ɲe po.mäˈɦä.t̪͡s̪ʲi]
prošú myi nye pomah-ácyi
please 1SG.DAT NEG help.IMP-INF

“Please don't help me!”
Native: :deu:
Learning: :gbr:, :fra:, :por:, :tur:

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Noattȯč a future German conlang [on hold]
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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Reyzadren » 04 Apr 2018 23:21

:con: griuskant (without the conscript)

roesar aesk.
/'rɯsar 'esk/
help-V-IMP 1SG
Help me.

kaensh roesa aesk.
/'kenʃ 'rɯsa 'esk/
NEG.IMP help-V 1SG
Don't help me.
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Re: Commands and requests

Post by spanick » 04 Apr 2018 23:29

The most basic commands in Sortsbergish (my new name for Modern Gotski) are formed by using the conjugated second person (singular or plural) of the present indicative with the pronoun dropped:

Heops men! “Help me!” (Sg)
Heopad men! “Help me!” (Pl)

However, this method is not at all common and comes across as rude. More often, speakers use the same method but use the subjunctive endings.

Heopes men! “Help me!” (Sg)
Heoped men! “Help me!” (Pl)

The difference seems small, but does not go unnoticed by natives. The types of situations which the plain indicative might be used in are emergencies or when someone is being deliberately obtuse.

In either case, this would be negative by placing the negative particle ne before the verb.
Ne heops men! “Don’t help me!”
Ne heopad men!
Ne heopes men!
Ne heoped men!

The more polite form adds bedžo before the request. Bedžo would be translated as “please” in this context but is in fact the first person subjunctive of bedžan “to beg, ask, request”.

Bedžo, heopes men! “Please, help me!” (Sg)
Bedžo, heopad men! “Please, help me!” (Pl)

One could also form the command in the form of a question to make it even more polite.
Bedžo, heopes tu men? "Would you help me, please?"
Bedžo, kones tu heopan men? "Could you please help me?"

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Lao Kou » 05 Apr 2018 02:17

Image Géarthnuns

The complete skinny on the Géarthnuns imperative may be found here.

But for what's being demonstrated here (parentheticals may be omitted):


(Öçek la) sít hükupaz. - Help me. (singular)
(Skom la) sít hükupaz. - Help me. (dual)
(Kfazh la) sít hükupaz. - Help me. (plural)
(Wöij la) sít hükupaz. - Help me. (septimal -- Snow White talking to the dwarves, rare)


(Fenfe la) fít hükupaz. - Don't help me. (singular)
(Dhékh la) fít hükupaz. - Don't help me. (dual)
(Hésh la) fít hükupaz. - Don't help me. (plural)
(Vla la) fít hükupaz. - Don't help me. (septimal -- talking to the dwarves, rarer still)

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Re: Commands and requests

Post by Birdlang » 07 Apr 2018 22:18

In Pigeonese it is this
Hyālpami /çäː Help me!
Hyālpami, trɨmakasīh /çäː tɾəɪ̯.ma.ka.siːɦ/ Help, please!
Can be singular or plural if plural add ñum /ɲʊm/ which means both to beginning
Don’t help me would be Hyālpami jhnyöm /çäː ɟʱɲɘɯ̯̽m/ help-me not
Could you please help me?
Would be
Hyālpes deû nhängwaèq jhæännyi nhyongkom’mi /çäːl.pəs dɵʉ̯ ɲɞ.ŋ͝mg͝bɛæ̯ʔ ɟʱɛːʏ̯.ɲʰɨ ɲːoŋ.kɔm.ˀmi/
Help-is you could-you please with-something-me
Which is more like Is it possible if you could help me with something? than the above.
Ꭓꭓ Ʝʝ Ɬɬ Ɦɦ Ɡɡ Ɥɥ Ɫɫ Ɽɽ Ɑɑ Ɱɱ Ɐɐ Ɒɒ Ɓɓ Ɔɔ Ɖɖ Ɗɗ Əə Ɛɛ Ɠɠ Ɣɣ Ɯɯ Ɲɲ Ɵɵ Ʀʀ Ʃʃ Ʈʈ Ʊʊ Ʋʋ Ʒʒ Ꞵꞵ Ʉʉ Ʌʌ Ŋŋ Ɂɂ Ɪɪ Ææ Øø Ð𠌜 Ɜɜ Ǝɘ

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