Watch the following video to learn about the formal imperative in Italian:
*There are exercises at the end of the video to reinforce what you have learned.
The formal imperative is the command form used when there is formality between people. The dentist may use it with a patient when asking them to open their mouth. Coworkers of 25 years might use it with each other in a work place.
Whatever the circumstance may be, Italian uses a separate form in formal situations. For a review of when to use the formal register, see this lesson on formal vs informal. Let's first take a look at a chart of the stems of the formal imperative (*NB: the formal stems are the same as the informal stems):
To form the stems for the informal imperative, you chop the verb stem from the infinitive. The only exception is if you are dealing with the Lei form of an -ire verb that uses the -isc- ending in the present tense, you also use that in the imperative.
To form the Lei form of the imperative you add the following endings:
These are the forms you will use when telling people in formal situations to do things. The model forms mean from left to right: "speak!", "write!", "sleep!", and "clean!"
The Loro forms of the imperative are even easier to form. It is easy to remember the Loro form because in all cases you simply add an -no to the Lei form:
These are the forms you will use when telling two people or more to do something in a formal situation. The model forms mean the same as they do in the Lei forms."
Many irregular verb forms come from verbs that are irregular in the present tense indicative. This is similar to the '-isc-' forms of the '-ire' family of verbs where you change the -o of the present tense io form and change it to an -a:
Common irregular imperative 'Lei' forms:
|andare (to go)||beva!|
|avere (to have)||abbia!*|
|bere (to drink)||beva!|
|dare (to give)||dia!*|
|dire (to say)||dica!|
|essere (to be)||sia!*|
|fare (to do)||faccia!|
|stare (to stay)||stia!*|
|uscire (to go out)||esca!|
|venire (to come)||venga!|
* These forms do not follow the typical pattern changing the present tense -o form to an -a
** Add -no to the Lei form of the above verbs to form the Loro form.
The following is a set of flashcards that you can use to study and drill the imperative: