Imperatives under coordination

  • Ezra Keshet
  • David J. Medeiros


Imperatives in conjoined sentences have presented a puzzle for theories which associate directive force with all imperatives. For example, in a conjunction like Ignore your homework and you’ll fail the class, the first, imperative conjunct may describe an undesirable action, which is incompatible with normal imperative directive force. Despite this apparent counterexample, this paper presents new empirical evidence of directive force in all conjoined imperatives. Even cases with undesirable imperative actions still direct the addressee to perform a related action (such as not ignoring their homework). Under this new analysis, directive force sometimes applies to the entire Imperative-and-Declarative conjunction, rather than narrowly to the first, imperative clause. Robust diagnostics are deployed to delineate the precise class of conditional Imperative-and-Declarative conjunctions, distinguishing such cases from those whose first clauses do not actually include an imperative. Additional diagnostics separate conjunctions whose imperative force applies narrowly to the first conjunct from those where it applies to the entire conjunction. Finally, the analysis of this construction motivates a simplified theory of imperatives more generally.


Imperatives Semantics Syntax 



We gratefully acknowledge the feedback of two anonymous reviewers and associate editor Kyle Johnson. We also thank audiences for their feedback at GLOW, LSA, WCCFL, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan. We gained valuable insights from discussions with Magdalena Kaufmann, Sharon Klein, and Paul Portner, and crucial speaker judgments from Kenneth Luna, Dennis Ott, Paul Petzschmann, Ana Sánchez-Muñoz, Jutta Schamp, and Florian Schwarz.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.California State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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