Can something be “very imperative?” No, it can’t.
I’ve already written about the overuse of intensifiers, our habit of tacking adverbs like very, really, and extremely onto words in an attempt to turn up the intensity of our language. While adding an intensifier sometimes makes sense, we can usually find a word that already has the intensity we want.
And then there are times when you simply should not modify a word’s intensity at all. I read an essay recently that described something as being “very imperative.” This will not do.
Imperative means “absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable.” Just as there are no shades of pregnancy (you either are pregnant, or you are not), there are no degrees of intensity with the word imperative. There is no volume knob, because being imperative is a binary state. Something either is imperative, or it isn’t, and so the intensifier very doesn’t add any information.
Remember that some words have no gradation, no variation of intensity, and therefore it is useless to graft a modifier to them. Things are everlasting, unique, monochromatic, or symmetrical, or they are not. These words don’t work with intensifiers, just like a coffee maker doesn’t come with a speed control—it’s either on or it’s off.
Think of it this way: if it wouldn’t make sense to modify a word with a diminishing adverb like slightly, then it doesn’t make sense to add an intensifier like very. It doesn’t make sense to say something is slightly imperative, therefore it’s equally nonsensical to say it’s very imperative.