Verbs like want and know seem to resist being used in imperative constructions. In particular, it does not seem possible to use them to command people to change their mind about what they want or to learn something.

A sentence like *Want to eat. with the intended meaning similar to You should want to eat. does not appear grammatical to me.

Similarly, a sentence like *Know about the history of waffles. with an intended meaning similar to Learn about the history of waffles. also does not appear grammatical to me. I can think of a handful of examples with know in the imperative though: know thyself, know your limits, know your place, &c.

Psych verbs like think can be used to make commands. Think about it some more.

How would one analyze this failure? wanting and knowing are not thought of as volitional psychological states. However, know at least does appear to have an imperative which can be used in a few cases.

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    "For the final exam, know the history of waffles"?
    – Draconis
    Aug 14 at 16:29
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    Want takes a have clause in default situations, as She wants her doll demonstrates. Any other predicate in its complement needs to have the same features as have, specifically, being stative. And know is not a psych verb -- it doesn't describe emotion. Its object must be a piece of information, and an imperative wouldn't work with that because the imperative would convey the information. You can do it with groups (Know them all by Wednesday!), but not individual objects (*Know that 3 times 17 is 51!).
    – jlawler
    Aug 14 at 17:03
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    @jlawler — Imperative know is typically used by wizards, deities, etc., cf., in KJV, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2Tim.3:1), “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs” (Gen.15:13) — dozens of similar usage in the Bible. Even the most mundane “Know that I'll always be with you” is pretty typical, so I don't understand why know should be put aside from the rest of the verbs as for the ability to form the imperative.
    – Yellow Sky
    Aug 14 at 18:58
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    Want is too neutral, Google gives 1.2 million pages with ‘desire me’.
    – Yellow Sky
    Aug 14 at 19:10
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    @jlawler I think I'm misunderstanding, because I can think of plenty of examples of "want" with a non-stative complement. "She wants to jump off the diving board" is clearly talking about an event rather than a state for example.
    – Draconis
    Aug 14 at 23:27


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