Hi my grammar book (neue Gelb) says that the past participle may be used as an imperative if the command is to be carried out immediately. For example:


I can't find any other examples and am wondering whether this is common. Why would this be used rather than the normal imperative command for instance?

  • 2
    The "why" is hard to answer when it gets to the use of language...
    – RoyPJ
    Mar 9, 2018 at 13:54
  • 2
    In addition, there is another kind of "imperative": Hierbleiben! Aufpassen!
    – RoyPJ
    Mar 9, 2018 at 13:55
  • 2
    @RoyPJ: I believe they want to know the difference... why one is preferred over the other.
    – Takkat
    Mar 9, 2018 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


German has the classic imperative like

Pass auf!

Bleib stehen!

and a number of other forms that can be used as replacement forms to express the imperative:

Infinitive Strict order, sounds very military



Participle Very militarian language as well, works with separable verbs only





Present tense Used between parents and kids normally

Du passt mir aber auf!

Du bleibst jetzt stehen!

Gerundive very officially sounding

Es ist aufzupassen!

Es ist stehenzubleiben

Thinking about it, apparently the German language seems to have a lot of variation (and tradition) in formulating orders...

German military interestingly uses the participle for "Attention!" ("Stillgestanden!") and the "real" imperative in 2nd person plural for "at ease!" ("Rührt Euch!"), even if superior officers are normally not allowed to address subordinates in 2nd person.

  • Durchaus: "Zusammengeschrieben! Großgeschrieben!" Mar 9, 2018 at 19:23
  • Must be "infinitive", not "indicative".
    – RHa
    Mar 9, 2018 at 20:17
  • 2
    About frequency: all these forms are in wide use.
    – Janka
    Mar 9, 2018 at 20:56
  • OK sorry to resurrect a very old thread, but I was watching the new Star Wars film yesterday with German subtitles, and there was a line "Win the war!" in English, which was translated as "Gewinnt den Krieg" or something along those lines. Now obviously this isn't a separable verb, but it was being used as an imperative. Is this incorrect usage, or colloquialism, or is there something else going on?
    – Tim Foster
    Jan 5, 2020 at 10:59
  • @TimFoster in this sentence, "gewinnt" is just the imperative (plural form) of "gewinnen" (see table at the bottom of the Duden entry for gewinnen), not a participle.
    – Hulk
    Mar 25, 2020 at 13:43

If you use the past participle in a command, you're saying that you want it done "yesterday." That is the sense of commands like "Hiergeblieben!" and "Aufgepasst!"

Of course, something can't be done in the past, but the nearest thing to it, in the present, is "immediately."

  • There's something to it, yes, like in "I expect that to be finished while I say it"
    – tofro
    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:59

It's something you might hear occasionally. For example you might hear a drill instructor saying it to bunch of recruits. But in normal usage this would be considered extremely rude.
If you are trying to learn good German, stick to the normal imperative

  • Can't see why "Bleiben sie hier!" sounds any less rude than "Hiergeblieben!" or "Hierbleiben!". Imperative sounds rude.
    – tofro
    Mar 9, 2018 at 18:00
  • @tofro Rude instructions are 'in'. I am annoyed by all the phrases like " Einmal stehenbleiben!", "Einmal vorzeigen!", "Einmal hier unterschreiben", etc. If this would be a complete sentence like "Unterschreiben Sie hier!" it would address personally and it's more likely to add ", bitte".
    – harper
    Mar 9, 2018 at 18:08
  • 1
    @harper There is no reason why you couldn't add a polite "bitte" to "einmal hier unterschreiben".
    – tofro
    Mar 9, 2018 at 18:39
  • @tofro The discussion here is about the use of the participle: the difference between "hierbleiben!" and "hergeblieben!". Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I find the second form unnecessarily rude
    – PiedPiper
    Mar 10, 2018 at 0:49
  • @tofro German is a rich language and of course you can be polite "bitte" nearly everywhere. But the "einmal" already replaces "bitte" in "Bitte hier unterschreiben."
    – harper
    Mar 11, 2018 at 12:15

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