Read this page, then try this practice.

  • Call me tonight!
  • Be happy!
  • Have a good time!

All of these expressions are commands to other people to do something. The grammatical term used for such commands is imperatives. As you can see from the examples, imperatives do not always express urgency, as the word implies. Sometimes they express authority (Everyone be quiet!), but also instruction (Turn left at the light and take your first right) or advice (Try to exercise more and not drink as much coffee).


Forms

Unlike English, Italian has different imperative forms for its verbs, depending on whom the speaker is addressing (one person or more than one), the social context (informal or formal), and the type of statement (affirmative or negative). In this first section, you can study the forms for tu (when addressing one person), voi (when addressing more than one person), Lei, (when addressing someone you don’t know well or someone older than you), and noi, (when you exhort a group – including yourself – toward a particular action, e.g. Let’s learn the imperatives!)

In some cases, the imperative form is the same as the regular verb form for tu, voi, and noi; in other cases, the imperative forms are distinctive. In the chart below, the distinctive cases are found in bold.

Regular Verbs

parlare credere finire
tu parla!
talk!
credi!
believe!
finisci!
finish!
non parlare!
don’t talk!
non credere!
don’t believe!
non finire!
don’t finish!
voi parlate!
(you all) talk!
credete!
(you all) believe!
finite!
(you all) finish!
non parlate!
(you all) don’t talk!
non credete!
(you all) don’t believe!
non finite!
(you all) don’t finish!
noi parliamo!
let’s talk!
crediamo!
let’s believe!
finiamo!
let’s finish!
non parliamo!
let’s not talk!
non crediamo!
let’s not believe!
non finiamo
let’s not finish!
Lei parli!
(you formal) talk!
creda!
(you formal) believe!
finisca!
(you formal) finish!
non parli!
(you formal) don’t talk!
non creda!
(you formal) don’t believe!
non finisca!
(you formal) don’t finish!
  • The tu imperative form for -are verbs ends in -a.
  • The negative tu imperative for all classes of verbs is formed by the infinitve.
  • The tu imperatives for -ere and -ire verbs and the voi and noi imperatives for all three classes of verbs are identical to the non-imperative forms of the present tense.
  • The Lei and Loro forms are the imperatives used to give commands, formally, to one person and more than one person respectively. It helps to note that the ending vowels on these forms are the opposite of what you might expect for their classes, with the -are verbs ending in -i and the -ere and -ire verbs ending in -a.

Irregular Verbs

Essere and avere have very irregular imperative forms:

essere avere
tu sii abbi
noi siamo abbiamo
voi siate abbiate
Lei sia abbia

The following verbs have irregular tu forms:

dare da’ (dai)
fare fa’ (fai)
stare sta’ (stai)
andare va’ (vai)
dire di’

Many verbs have irregular Lei forms:

Lei
andare vada
bere beva
dare dia
dire dica
fare faccia
stare stia
uscire esca
venire venga

Imperatives with Object Pronouns

When you use an object pronoun with an imperative (e.g. Call me tonight, Bring her the book, Don’t eat it, Don’t worry about it), in Italian, you attach that pronoun to the
tu, noi and voi imperatives:

  • Andiamoci! (Let’s go there!)
  • Chiamami stasera! (Call me tonight!)
  • Non farlo! (Don’t do it!)

When you add a pronoun to an infinitive, as in the last example, drop the final -e before adding it.

When pronouns attach to the tu forms of dare, dire, fare, stare, or andare, the first consonant of the pronoun doubles, except with the pronoun gli:

  • Fallo! (Do it!)
  • Dimmelo! (Tell it to me!)
  • Vacci! (Go there!)

With formal imperatives, do not attach the pronouns, but place them before the verb.

  • Lo faccia! (Do it!)
  • Me lo dica! (Tell it to me!)
  • Ci vada! (Go there!)

Imperatives: Practice