Icelandic: Imperative Form

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    From what I know, the imperative (bóðháttur) is to be used when you are commanding someone to do something. Do this, clean this, pick this up etc...

    I'm not sure if it's just the laziness of pronunciation as I've mentioned before or an actual mistake (that i've heard some infants use) but I seem to hear alot people saying just the infinitive form rather than the imperative when commanding people to do something. LOKA!! instead of Lokaðu.

    Is there any reason for this or in practice should I always say Lokaðu, to tell someone to close a door or something.

  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    There are two types of imperative, stýfður boðháttur (truncated imperative) and viðskeyttur boðháttur (suffixed imperative) and it all has to do with whether you add on the pronoun.
    In the truncated imperative you just take the stem of the verb, which is usually just taking off the final -a of the verb in its infinitive form. BUT in Group 1 verbs (-aði verbs) the final -a actually is part of the 'stem' of the verb. So you use the same form. So 'loka' is the stýfður boðháttur and lokaðu is the viðskeyttur boðháttur (both correct).

    You wouldn't expect to find this in imperatives like 'komdu!' / 'haltu!' / 'hættu!' / 'slepptu!' (because they don't belong to that verb group).
    (The final -a in the infinitive form of the verbs is not part of the stem... so is removed to form the imperative).

    There's variability. I think the truncated one is more for spoken language.
    As with most things, stick to the more regular / formal versions in the beginning stages then you can slowly step back from that to be more causal when you've got it down.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  3. Merkurius Senior Member

    I have to add my ''feeling'' towards this as a native speaker.
    When I say ''Loka!'' I mean ''Somebody just close the door (for exemple)''
    When I'm referring to someone specific I say ''lokaðu!''

    But like Alxmrphi said above you would never say ''koma!'' or ''halda!'' except for when you're talking to a child that hasn't fully understood the meaning of ''haltu!'' - ''farðu!'' etc. To complicate it even further one says often to a child ''Gunna koma'' instead of ''Gunna komdu'' (Gunna being the child) I think the reason is because the baby hasn't understood the meaning of the imperative.
  4. Þröstur New Member

    English, UK
    From personal experience I would agree with Merkurius. The truncated form is used more when the command is directed at a non-specific or unknown group. A good example of this is when someone knocks on your office door, you say "Kom inn" rather than "Komdu/komið inn".

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