How to Say Negative Commands in Italian

Learn how to give suggestions, advice or commands in the negative

View of Italian vineyard
View of Italian vineyard. Arcangelo Piai / EyeEm

Throughout childhood, we grow up hearing negative commands. Our parents say phrases, like Don't bother your brother!, Stop yelling!, Don't forget to do your homework!, or Don’t make a mess!

And even though our intention isn’t to learn Italian so we can yell negative commands at our children, knowing how to use them in Italian can prove useful, particularly in situations like giving advice to a friend about a guy that sounds like trouble or suggesting that someone not eating something unhealthy.

But first, where do these negative commands come from?

The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is a way of giving advice, suggestions, or commands. If you need a refresher, read this article: The Imperative Mood in Italian. When it comes using this mood, the form of the verb depends on whether you use the “tu” form, the “lei” form, the “noi” form, and the “voi” form, which I’ll break down below.

Negative Commands Using the “tu” Form

The negative tu command forms of all verbs are formed by the infinitive of the verb preceded by non:

  • Non dire così! - Don’t talk like that!

  • Non fare il guastafeste! - Don’t be a party-pooper!

  • Non mangiare quell’hamburger! Non è sano. - Don’t eat that hamburger! It’s not healthy.

But what happens when you start to add some more complicated elements to the mix, like pronouns, for example?

  • Non andarci! - Don’t go there!

  • Non glielo dare! / Non darglielo! - Don't give it to him!

  • Non ne parlare mai più! - Don’t bring it up ever again!

If you’re dealing with reflexive verbs, you would either place the pronoun at beginning or at the end of the conjugated verb, like:

  • Non ti preoccupare! / Non preoccuparti! - Don’t worry!

  • Non ti addormentare. / Non addormentarti. - Don’t fall asleep.

  • Non ti sposare! / Non sposarti! - Don’t get married!

Negative Commands Using the “lei” Form

The negative “lei” command is formed by placing “non” before the verb that’s been conjugated in the imperative mood.

  • Non parli! - Don’t speak!

  • Non mangi quel piatto. - Don’t eat that dish.

  • Non parta! - Don’t leave!

  • Non creda (a) quello che dice lui! - Don’t believe what he says!

Negative Commands Using the “noi” and “voi” Forms

The negative “noi” and “voi: command forms of all verbs are formed simply by placing non before the affirmative forms:

Voi

  • Non dormite! - Don’t sleep!

  • Non fate rumore! - Don’t make a sound!

  • Non parlate! - Don’t speak!

  • Non fumate! - Don’t smoke!

  • Non andate in quel mercato per fare la spesa, andate in un altro. - Don’t go to that store to do the shopping, go to a different one.

Noi

  • Non dormiamo! - Let’s not sleep.

  • Non facciamo rumore. - Let’s not make any noise.

  • Non andiamo in quel mercato per fare la spesa, andiamo in un altro. - Let’s not go to that store to do the shopping, let’s go to a different one.

TIP: Notice how the “noi” form is less seen as a command and more often seen as a suggestion.

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Filippo, Michael San. "How to Say Negative Commands in Italian." ThoughtCo, Nov. 28, 2016, thoughtco.com/italian-negative-commands-2011679. Filippo, Michael San. (2016, November 28). How to Say Negative Commands in Italian. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/italian-negative-commands-2011679 Filippo, Michael San. "How to Say Negative Commands in Italian." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/italian-negative-commands-2011679 (accessed January 20, 2018).