Imperative in Italian
The modo imperativo (imperative mood) is one of the finite moods of the Italian grammar.
- 1.Definition and usage of the imperative
- 2.Conjugation of the Italian imperative (imperativo presente)
- 2.1.Conjugation of regular verbs in the imperativo
- 2.1.1.Verbs that belong to the -are conjugation
- 2.1.2.Verbs that belong to the -ere conjugation
- 2.1.3.Verbs that belong to the -ire conjugation
- 2.2.Conjugation of irregular verbs in the imperativo
- 3.Auxiliary verbs: essere/avere
- 4.Formation of the negative imperative in Italian
- 5.Formation of the Italian formal imperative
- 6.Usage of the Italian imperative with pronouns
Definition and usage of the imperative
The imperativo is used with verbs expressing commands, orders, indications, advice and when a person tells another one what to do.
In its negative form the imperativo refers to a prohibition, thus meaning that something is forbidden.
- Dammi quella penna (Give me that pen)
- Non andare nella foresta perchè potrebbe essere pericoloso (Do not go into the woods because it could be dangerous)
This mood can only be found in main clauses.
Conjugation of the Italian imperative (imperativo presente)
It is the only mood which possesses only one tense: the present.
The imperative can only be found in the 2nd person singular (tu) and 2nd person plural (voi).
For all the other persons it is necessary to use the present tense of the subjunctive mood.
The first person singular (io) of this tense does not exist!
Conjugation of regular verbs in the imperativo
Regular verbs are conjugated as follows:
Verbs that belong to the -are conjugation
Example parlare (to speak)
|Tu||parl||a||Parla con loro||Talk to them|
|Egli/Ella||parl||i||Parli con loro||Talk to them|
|Noi||parl||iamo||Parliamo con loro||Let's talk to them|
|Voi||parl||ate||Parlate con loro||Talk to them|
|Essi/Esse||parl||ino||Parlino con loro||Talk to them|
Verbs that belong to the -ere conjugation
Example credere (to believe)
|Tu||cred||i||Credici||Believe in it|
|Egli/Ella||cred||a||Ci creda||Believe in it|
|Noi||cred||iamo||Crediamoci||Let's believe in it|
|Voi||cred||ete||Credeteci||Believe in it|
|Essi/Esse||cred||ano||Ci credano||Believe in it|
Verbs that belong to the -ire conjugation
Example dormire (to sleep)
|Tu||dorm||i||Adesso dormi||Sleep now|
|Egli/Ella||dorm||a||Dorma adesso||Sleep now|
|Noi||dorm||iamo||Adesso dormiamo||Let's sleep now|
|Voi||dorm||ite||Adesso dormite||Sleep now|
|Essi/Esse||dorm||ano||Dormano adesso||Sleep now|
Conjugation of irregular verbs in the imperativo
Irregular verbs have to be studied by heart because they do not follow any grammatical rules.
Here you can find a table with the conjugation of the main irregular verbs in the imperativo:
|Sapere (to know)||Andare (to go)||Dire (to say)||Fare (to do/make)||Dare (to give)||Stare (to stay)|
|fa' (fai)*||da' (dai)*||sta' (stai)*|
*The verbs stare, fare, andare and dare have two possible forms in the second person singular. Both these forms are correct.
Example: Vai a casa! (Go home)
Va' a casa! (Go home)
Auxiliary verbs: essere/avere
The auxiliary verbs essere and avere form the imperativo in an irregular way. Therefore, their conjugation has to be studied by heart.
|Essere (to be)||Avere (to have)|
Formation of the negative imperative in Italian
The negative form of the imperative (imperativo negativo italiano) is formed quite easily:
1) For the second person singular (tu) it is necessary to add the negation non before the verb in the infinitive.
- Non mangiare quella torta (Do not eat that cake)
- Non andare in montagna che potrebbe essere pericoloso (Do not go to the mountains because it could be dangerous)
2) For all the other persons, it is necessary to add the negation non to the verb in the imperative or in the subjunctive.
- Non dite sciocchezze (Do not say stupid things) - imperative
- Non faccia così che se no sarà tutto più difficile (Do not behave like this, otherwise everything will be more difficult) - subjunctive
Formation of the Italian formal imperative
In order to express a command or a request in a more polite way, it is possible to use certain sayings and expressions. These expressions are:
|Per favore/per piacere||Please|
|Se non ti/le/vi dispiace||If you don't mind|
|Ti/la/vi prego...||I beg/ask you to...|
These expressions can be found either before or after the verb:
Example: Apri la porta, per favore (Open the door, please)
Ti dispiace aprire* la porta? (Do you mind opening the door?)
*Remember that when the polite expression comes before the verb, the verb is used in the infinitive form.
Usage of the Italian imperative with pronouns
The position of the pronouns depends on a series of characteristics of the imperative verb:
- Informal affirmative imperative: the pronoun follows the imperative verb and they join to form one word
- Informal negative imperative: the pronoun can either precede or follow the imperative verb. In the first case they remain two separate words, while in the second case they form one word
- Formal affirmative imperative: the pronoun always precedes the imperative verb
- Formal negative imperative: the pronoun always precedes the imperative verb
|Informal affirmative imperative||
|Informal negative imperative||
|Formal affirmative imperative||
|Formal negative imperative||
*Keep in mind that in this case the second person singular loses the final e of the infinitive form.
Example: Non mangiare (Don't eat)
Non mangiarlo (Don't eat it)
Now don't forget to check out our exercises on the Italian imperative tense to practise your knowledge!
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