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Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

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1.5 Texts that instruct

Instructions are everywhere. Whether you choose to follow them is another matter entirely. Instructions can be anything from how to open a box of cereal to the step-by-step details of how to put together a flat-pack piece of furniture.

Instructions contain imperatives (bossy verbs) – commands which tell you what to do or what not to do, such as ‘shake the packet’ or ‘do not leave the box open’.

Activity 5 Safety instructions

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Read the following text and note down:

  • who it is written for
  • why it was written
  • what makes its message successful.
Road safety checklist
ALWAYS wear a seatbeltDON’T leave valuables in a parked car
ALWAYS plan your route and have a mapDON’T leave your driving licence in your car
DO tell someone where you are goingNEVER leave your car unlocked
DO join a national breakdown serviceNEVER leave children alone in the car
DO park in well-lit placesNEVER pick up hitchhikers
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Who? The text is written for drivers and people who travel by car.

Why? The purpose of the text is to instruct people on how to keep safe when travelling by car.

What makes it successful?

  • The way the text is laid out highlights the key points that you are likely to remember.
  • It tells you what you should do and what it is best not to do.
  • The instructions are very clear and easy to understand.
  • The first words – ‘ALWAYS’, ‘DO’, ‘DON’T’ and ‘NEVER’ – are in capital letters so that you notice them.
  • It uses short sentences.
  • It uses imperatives to tell you clearly what to do and what not to do, such as plan, tell, leave and pick.

The purpose of texts like these is to tell somebody what to do or how things should be done. You get instructions if you buy a new piece of equipment like a food processor. Instructions are often in a particular order and may be numbered or in bullet points. They are often arranged under subheadings.