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).
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.
(you all) talk!
(you all) believe!
(you all) finish!
(you all) don’t talk!
| non credete!
(you all) don’t believe!
(you all) don’t finish!
let’s not talk!
| non crediamo!
let’s not believe!
| non finiamo
let’s not finish!
(you formal) talk!
(you formal) believe!
(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 form (or formal imperative) is the imperative used to give commands, instructions, or advice to someone you do not know or someone who is older than you, or in a professional setting. It helps to note that the ending vowels of 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.
Essere and avere have very irregular imperative forms:
The following verbs have irregular tu forms:
Many verbs have irregular Lei forms:
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!)