The modo imperativo (imperative mood) is one of the finite moods of the Italian grammar.
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.
This mood can only be found in main clauses.
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!
Regular verbs are conjugated as follows:
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|
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|
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|
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)
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)|
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.
2) For all the other persons, it is necessary to add the negation non to the verb in the imperative or in the subjunctive.
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.
The position of the pronouns depends on a series of characteristics of 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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