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Writing: Word Choice

Imperative Mood: Write a Warning Label For Yourself


Today's Snack: Warning: don't eat very many sweets. Candy, cookies, cake, ice cream and other sugary snacks are bad for your teeth and eventually will make you fat. Train yourself to like healthy snacks that are still pretty sweet, but still good for you. Examples: raisins, dried cranberries and other dried fruits. Yum! And have a nice, sweet glass of 100% pure fruit juice, too.





Warning labels from household products

Paper | colorful markers | tape



Take a look at the words in the warning labels that you have collected from medicine bottles, food packages, cleaning products, tools, lawn products and other warnings. Notice how the words are very strong and often short. They make you pay attention! They command you to take notice!


List the powerful words, especially verbs, from the labels. Do you often see the word "WARNING" in all capital letters? That sure gets your attention.


Add words from traffic signs that you've seen along the roads - "STOP" and "YIELD" and others.


Talk about what these warning words mean. Do they tell you what you need to do to stay safe? Do they tell you how to avoid accidents or damage to your equipment or possessions? Do they tell you how to avoid personal injury, even death?


These word choices are in the "imperative mood." That's pronounced im PAIR uh tiv. Something that is "imperative" is very, very important. It's absolutely necessary, like a commandment. The words in a message like this are usually short, strong words like "stop" and "don't." There's not a lot of description and you don't beat around the bush to get your message across. You get straight to it. The reader of a warning label definitely can get a clear message from something written in the imperative mood.


Along with these short, strong word choices, you usually see bold colors, large and all-capital lettering, exclamation points, and vivid graphics. They really help to attract and keep the reader's attention.


Now, just for fun, take a piece of paper, and create a warning label for YOURSELF! Choose words that people need to know around you. Warn them about your habits and behaviors. Add colorful lettering and graphics if you'd like.


Tape your warning label to the back of your neck, and wear it for the rest of the day!


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2012


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