Forming the Imperative

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The imperative (l'imperativo) is used to give orders, advice, and exhortation: be good, stay home, let's go.

The formation of the imperative in Italian follows a sort of "back-to-front" rule for the tu and Lei forms. In other words, parlaregenerates (tu) parla and (Lei) parli - as if the indicative forms had swapped places - while -ere and -ire verbs behave in exactly the opposite way: (tu) prendi, (Lei) prenda.

To create perfect, oven-fresh imperatives, stick to the following rules:

  • the tu and voi forms are identical to their corresponding present indicative forms, except for the tu form of -are verbs, which add -a to the root: domandare > domanda
  • the formal Lei and Loro forms (though the second is hardly every used) take the corresponding forms of the present subjunctive (see table below)
  • the noi form (translated by "let's..." in English) also mimics the present subjunctive form - but this is identical to the common or garden-variety present indicative (andiamo, vediamo, etc.)

Regular verbs therefore have the following imperative forms:


Irregular verbs follow the same pattern, except for essere and avere, which have rule-bending tu and voi forms:


Note too that dire has an irregular, truncated tu form: di'. The same goes for andare, dare, fare, and stare, but with these four, a regular tu form is also possible: va'/vai, da'/dai, fa'/fai, sta'/stai.

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Filippo, Michael San. "Forming the Imperative." ThoughtCo, Sep. 26, 2016, Filippo, Michael San. (2016, September 26). Forming the Imperative. Retrieved from Filippo, Michael San. "Forming the Imperative." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 27, 2018).