I'm working on a project that explores how imperative mood varies in 'intensity'.

For example, one can 'soften' the tone of a directive by including the speaker in the command:

"Let's go to school" is 'softer' than "Go to school"

Or by starting with the verb 'Try':

"Try working harder" is 'softer' than "Work harder".

Are there any other quantifiable ways of influencing the tone of a directive, either way?

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    The first example could be cohortative mood. I'm not sure how the second might be analyzed – b a Dec 11 '18 at 11:25
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    Yes, 1st-person inclusive let -imperatives have that effect; probably because compliance involves joint action by speaker and addressee(s), where I commit myself to the action and seek your agreement. English doesn't have mood (other than that marked by modal auxiliaries and the so-called 'irrealis' mood). The imperative is a clause type where the verb is in plain form (infinitive). Likewise, "try" is not a modal auxiliary verb, but cf. the modal "You should try working harder" – BillJ Dec 11 '18 at 11:53
  • Thanks for these quick responses. @BillJ: If "Try" in the second example doesn't function as a modal auxiliary verb, what function does it perform? Thanks again. – owiewio Dec 11 '18 at 12:33
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    "Try" simply becomes the verb in the imperative and "working" is the complement. – Luke Sawczak Dec 11 '18 at 14:57
  • If the project is formally described in terms of "the imperative mood" in English, then it's time for a rethink on terminology. You're doing pragmatics, not syntax. – jlawler Dec 11 '18 at 17:37

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