I asked yesterday about the imperative of velle, and it turned out that does not really have an imperative. If the most obvious option is not available, how should I give an order to want? A phrase or two with a classical use example would be great. It can be just an imperative if that is the idiomatic choice, but I do not know which verb to pick if velle is not available.

A use example was given in the linked question, but I will give another one here. In the following case I would like use the imperative of velle:

Do you want to build a welfare state? Want to share!

The point is that willingness to share is the key to a welfare state, more so than sharing itself. I do not mean that I really think this way; this is just to give an example situation where one might want to order someone to want something.

3 Answers 3


I have not been able to find any attested forms of an imperative for velle (see linked question) or cupio (cupi, cupite, cupito, cupitote).

Expanding to other synonyms, though, you quickly find alternatives that preserve the structure (and perhaps strangeness) of your example sentence.

  1. desiderare

Quid ergo est? Vide quomodo quisque illorum tulerit et, si fortes fuerunt, ipsorum illos animo desidera. (Seneca iunior, Dialogi

See how each of them endured his fate, and if they endured it bravely, long in your heart for courage as great as theirs.

(I'm a little confused by the syntax of ipsorum illos: this is a public-domain translation.)

Liberi atque incolumes desiderate patriam; immo desiderate, dum patria est, dum ciues eius estis. (Livius, Ab Urbe Condita

Long for your country, you who are free and unharmed; indeed, long for it, while it is still your country, while you are still its citizens.

Note that desidero can take a noun or AcI, but not a standalone infinitive.

  1. optare

Huc ergo cogitationes tuae tendant, hoc cura, hoc opta, omnia alia vota deo remissurus, ut contentus sis temet ipso et ex te nascentibus bonis. (Seneca iunior, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium 20.8.2)

*Let your thoughts attend only to this, care and wish for this one thing, consigning all other desires to god, that you be content with your own self and the good things that bring about.

This imperative usage of optare is relatively common, but also does not take the infinitive.

In light of this, one possible translation of your sentence is:

Hoc opta(te), ut compartiatur!


That case is weird. If you want to build a welfare state, you do not need to want to share, but only to share. Depending on the author, you'd see either an indirect command or hortatory subjunctive urging them to share, or even an if-clause:

If you want to build a welfare state, it is necessary to share.

If you absolutely needed an imperative here, there are several you could use (from the LSJ):

  • desiderare "to long for, greatly wish for, to desire something not possessed" (the LSJ entry lists more synonyms, too, if you want to go around digging);
  • optare "to choose or select" - sense in "choose to do something" = "want to do something"
  • gestire "Transf., to desire eagerly or passionately, to long for"

All three can take a complementary infinitive, which should satisfy your example, though an ut clause is more normal.

  • The example was not perfect, but the point was that someone might want to give an order to want. I tried to clarify the question a bit. Are all of these verbs used with an infinitive like sic facere desiderate/cupite/gestite?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:18
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta Typically they would take an ut clause.
    – cmw
    Jan 11, 2017 at 17:15

I would prefer tibi oportet communicare, without using velle: 'it behoves you to share'. Or you could instead use the gerundive of velle (if you accept its existence, which I'm personally a bit doubtful of): Communicare est tibi volendum.

  • I like these suggestions. I am not sure if volendum is attested, but it is easy enough to understand if one is willing to depart from classical style. Thanks!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:21

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