Beginner Italian Guide: How To Use Imperatives

The verb form used when giving instructions, issuing commands, or otherwise telling someone to do something is called the imperative mood. Today we will look at how to form the imperative mood with Italian verbs.

The imperative

Strictly speaking, the imperative mood is only used in the 2nd person. So instead of learning six more conjugated forms, you really only need two. With the exception of the singular form of -are, which ends in -a, these are all just the present indicative forms. That makes this pretty easy!

 -are-ere-ire (I)-ire (II)
tu-a-i-i-isci
voi-ate-ete-ite-ite

Not too hard, right?

Polite imperatives

Of course, while those are used most often, the Italian language also provides us with a more "polite" form, but you already know those, too. The polite form is none other than the present subjunctive.

 -are-ere-ire (I)-ire (II)
tu-i-a-a-isca
voi-ino-ano-ano-iscano

Negative imperatives

The negative imperative is also easy to form. Generally, you just use non, followed by the infinitive, eg: non fumare.

When addressing more than one person, just use the normal 2nd person plural, eg: non fumate.

And to be polite, just use the same polite form as above, eg: non fumi.

First person plurals

Finally, there is the theoretical 1st person plural imperative... the verb form expressed by statements like "let's go". In Italian, like most languages, this is done with the present tense indicative, so there's nothing to learn.


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