Languages › Italian The Imperative Mood in Italian Share Flipboard Email Print da-kuk / Getty Images Italian Grammar History & Culture Vocabulary Table of Contents Expand How to Form the Italian Imperative Imperative With Regular Verbs How to Form the Negative in the Imperative More Formal Commands Formal Commands: Verbs With Stem Changes By Cher Hale Italian Language Expert B.A., University of Nevada–Las Vegas Cher Hale is the founder of The Iceberg Project, a language-learning platform for students of the Italian language. She also hosts the 30 Minute Italian podcast. our editorial process Cher Hale Updated February 21, 2020 Be good! Stay home! Let's go! When using the above phrases in English, the only hint that it’s a command or a suggestion is the tone. Unlike Italian, English does not have a special way of changing the verb that makes the situation obvious. In Italian, that special form is called the imperative (l'imperativo), and it’s used to give orders and offer advice or suggestions. How to Form the Italian Imperative When you learn how the imperative is formed for the informal (tu) and the formal (lei) it’s going to feel very backward. In other words, a regular verb like parlare - to speak is formed as (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 make it easier, stick to the following rules: The tu and voi forms are identical to their present indicative forms, except for the tu form of -are verbs, which add an -a to the root: domandare > domanda. The (though the latter is hardly ever used) take the corresponding forms of the present subjunctive (take a gander at the table below). The noi form (translated by "let's..." in English) is the same as the present indicative (andiamo, vediamo, etc.). Imperative with Regular Verbs cantare (to sing) vendere (to sell) aprire (to open) finire (to finish) (tu) canta vendi apri finisci (Lei) canti venda apra finisca (noi) cantiamo vendiamo apriamo finiamo (voi) cantate vendete aprite finite (Loro) cantino vendano aprano finiscano Irregular verbs follow the same pattern, except for the rebels essere and avere, which have rule-bending tu and voi forms: essere (to be) avere (to have) (tu) sii abbi (Lei) sia abbia (noi) siamo abbiamo (voi) siate abbiate (Loro) siano abbiano 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. How to Form the Negative in the Imperative The negative imperative for tu in all conjugations is formed by placing the word non before the infinitive. The noi and voi forms are identical to those in the affirmative. lavorare (to work) scrivere (to write) (tu) Non lavorare! Non scrivere! (noi) Non lavoriamo! Non scriviamo! (voi) Non lavorate! Non scrivete! dormire (to sleep) finire (to finish) (tu) Non dormire! Non finire! (noi) Non dormiamo! Non finiamo! (voi) Non dormite! Non finite! Where do the pronouns go? Direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, and reflexive pronouns, when used in the affirmative, are attached to the end of the verb to form one word. The only exception is loro, which is always separate. alzarsi (to get up) mettersi (to put on) vestirsi (to dress oneself) alzati mettiti vestiti alziamoci mettiamoci vestiamoci alzatevi mettetevi vestitevi When a pronoun is attached to the tu imperative short forms of andare, dare, dire, fare, and stare, the apostrophe disappears and the first consonant of the pronoun is doubled, except when that pronoun is gli. Fammi un favore! Fammelo! - Do me a favor! Do it for me! Dille la verità! Digliela! - Tell her the truth! Tell it to her! When the verb is in the negative imperative, the pronouns may either precede or follow the verb. Carlo vuole le paste? - Does Carlos want the pastries? Non gliele dare! (Non dargliele)! - Don't give them to him! More Formal Commands The table below contains some more examples of formal commands. FORMAL COMMANDS INFINITIVE LEI LORO cantare Canti! Cantino! dormire Dorma! Dormano! finire Finisca! Finiscano! parlare Parli! Parlino! partire Parta! Partano! Pulisca! Puliscano! scrivere Scriva! Scrivano! vendere Venda! Vendano! Some of the verbs have irregular stem changes in the io form. Sometimes, this form is used to construct the imperatives of Lei and Loro. Formal Commands: Verbs with Stem Changes INFINITIVE PRESENT-INDICATIVE FORM OF IO IMPERATIVE FORM OF LEI IMPERATIVE FORM OF LORO andare (to walk) vado Vada! Vadano! (to appear) appaio Appaia! Appaiano! bere (to drink) bevo Beva! Bevano! dire (to say, to tell) dico Dica! Dicano! fare (to make) faccio Faccia! Facciano! porre (to place, to put down) pongo Ponga! Pongano! rimanere (to stay, to remain) rimango Rimanga! Rimangano! salire (to climb) salgo Salga! Salgano! scegliere (to choose, to pick) scelgo Scelga! Scelgano! sedere (to sit down) siedo Sieda! Siedano! suonare (to play a musical instrument) suono Suoni! Suonino! tradurre (to translate) traduco Traduca! Traducano! (to draw, to pull) traggo Tragga! Traggano! uscire (to exit) esco Esca! Escano! venire (to come) vengo Venga! Vengano! Finally, some verbs have irregular formal command forms that are not based on any present-indicative forms, and which you will have to memorize. These verbs are listed below. Formal Commands: Irregular Verbs INFINITIVE LEI LORO avere Abbia! Abbiano! dare Dia! Diano! essere Sia! Siano! sapere Sappia! Sappiano! stare Stia! Stiano Note that the same form of the verb is used for negative formal commands. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Hale, Cher. "The Imperative Mood in Italian." ThoughtCo, Feb. 9, 2021, thoughtco.com/the-imperative-mood-in-italian-4072739. Hale, Cher. (2021, February 9). The Imperative Mood in Italian. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-imperative-mood-in-italian-4072739 Hale, Cher. "The Imperative Mood in Italian." 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