Informal Imperative in Italian: Giving Orders and Instructions

Key Takeaways

Master the art of Italian commands with this guide on the imperative form! Learn when to use it, how it differs from English, and get the hang of conjugating regular and irregular verbs to boss around in Italian like a pro.

  • What is the imperative mood in Italian? The imperative mood is used for giving commands, making requests, or offering suggestions directly.
  • Types of imperative mood: There are informal and formal imperative forms in Italian, each with specific conjugations and usage rules.
  • Conjugation of regular verbs: For verbs ending in -ARE, the forms are like the present tense for noi and voi, while tu has its own form. Verbs ending in -ERE and -IRE follow the present tense conjugation.
  • Conjugation of irregular verbs: Irregular verbs have unique imperative forms, such as essere (to be) and avere (to have), which need to be memorized.
  • Examples of informal imperative: Learn how to use the informal imperative in sentences, like Mangia la pasta! (Eat the pasta!) and Aprite il libro e cominciate a leggere. (Open the book and start reading).
  • Practical tips: Use polite words like per favore (please) to avoid sounding too bossy when using the imperative in Italian.

Quick facts

What is the purpose of the imperative mood in Italian?

The imperative mood is used to give commands, orders, and instructions, only existing in the present tense.

How does the imperative form for "tu" differ for ARE verbs?

For ARE verbs, the "tu" form uses the verb root with an "A" ending, unlike the simple present tense.

Can the imperative mood be used with formal pronouns in Italian?

Yes, the imperative can be used with the formal pronoun "lei," using the present subjunctive conjugation.

How do irregular verbs behave in the imperative mood?

Irregular verbs have unique imperative forms that deviate from regular conjugation patterns, requiring memorization.

What imperative form does the verb "essere" take for "tu"?

The imperative form of "essere" for "tu" is "sii."

How is the imperative formed for "noi" and "lei" pronouns?

The imperative for "noi" and "lei" uses the present subjunctive form of the verb.

What is the imperative form of "mangiare" for "tu"?

The imperative form of "mangiare" for "tu" is "mangia."

How does the imperative mood in Italian compare to English?

Unlike English, Italian imperative verbs have specific conjugations and are not always identical to the present tense.

What imperative form does "fare" take for "voi"?

The imperative form of "fare" for "voi" is "fate."

What is one use of the imperative beyond giving commands?

The imperative can provide instructions, making it useful in educational and procedural contexts.

My Thoughts

The Imperative Mood in Italian

Giving Orders and Instructions in Italian

When we give orders and instructions in English, we use what seems to be the basic form of the verb, but from a linguistic point of view, we are using the imperative form.

This verbal mood is used for giving commands, making requests, or offering suggestions in a direct way. For instance, you might use it to make someone do something or give instructions in a more formal or polite setting.

In Italian, we have a specific conjugation for the imperative mood, but, logically, it cannot be applied to all persons. For example, you can address a friend (tu), an interlocutor you want to have a formal conversation with (lei), a group of people (voi), and a group of people you are part of (noi).

Before we dive into the conjugation and use of the Italian imperative moodlet me explain to you the different types of imperative mood you might encounter.

Different Types of Imperative

When I explain the imperative mood to my students, I like to provide them with an overview because I think it makes it easier to understand when it comes to conjugating the different forms.

As a matter of facts, the Italian imperative mood changes its conjugations depending on the form. Let me show you what I mean.

  • Informal imperative: This is the imperative form addressed to the second person singular tu. The Italian informal imperative has two different conjugations, depending on whether the verb is affirmative or negative.
  • Formal imperative: This is the imperative form addressed to the formal third person singular lei. The Italian formal imperative has one form only, for both affirmative or negative.
  • Imperative with pronouns: Depending on the subject (tu vs lei) and whether it is affirmative or negative, pronouns can be displayed in four different ways. It sound difficult, but it is very consistent throughout the conjugation.

Here are some examples, so you can see the differences.

Mangia la pasta!

Eat the pasta!

Non mangiare la pasta!

Do not eat the pasta!

Mangi la pasta, signora.

Eat the pasta, madam.

Non mangi la pasta, signora.

Do not eat pasta, madam.


Eat it!

La mangi, signora!

Eat it, madam!

Non mangiarla! / Non la mangiare!

Do not eat it!

Non la mangi, signora.

Do not eat it, madam.

In this article, I will focus on the affirmative informal imperative in Italian.

When to Use the Affirmative Informal Imperative in Italian

We saw that, in general, the imperative mood is used to give commands, orders, or instructions, and it only exists in the present tense.

Specifically, the affirmative informal imperative in Italian is used to give positive commands, orders, and instructions to a second person singular/plural interlocutor, that is, a person or group of people we are familiar with.

Fiocco, vieni qui!

Fiocco, come here!

Aprite il libro e cominciate a leggere.

Open the book and start reading.

Studia di più per migliorare il tuo italiano!

Informal Affirmative Imperative Mood: Conjugation

Regular Verbs

Regular verbs are quite consistent when conjugated in the informal affirmative form: for verbs ending in ARE, noi and voi are conjugated as the indicative present tense, while tu has its specific form. For verbs ending in –ERE and –IRE, the conjugation is the same as the present tense for all three pronoun tu , noi, and voi.

Infinitive  Translation Tu Noi Voi
Mangiare to eat mangia mangiamo mangiate
Correre to run corri corriamo correte
Aprire to open apri apriamo aprite

Irregular verbs

As you were probably expecting, irregular verbs have an irregular conjugation of the imperative! Have a look at the table below to learn the imperative form of some of the most commonly used Italian verbs.

Infinitive Translation Tu Noi Voi
Essere to be Sii Siamo Siate
Avere to have Abbi Abbiamo Abbiate
Sapere to know Sappi Sappiamo Sappiate
Dare to give Da’ / Dai Diamo Date
Fare to do/make Fa’ / Fai Facciamo Fate
Stare to stay Sta’ / Stai Stiamo State
Andare to go Va’ / Vai Andiamo Andate
Dire to say Di’ Diciamo Dite
Studia ogni giorno, per favore.

Examples of the Informal Italian Imperative Mood

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Here are some more examples of how to use the imperative form in Italian.

Prendi il treno per andare a scuola, l’autobus è molto lento!

Take the train to go to school, the bus is very slow!

Per favore, andate via, voglio stare solo.

Please, go away, I want to be alone.

Sappi che non ti ho mai detto bugie.

Know that I never told you lies.

Abbiate il coraggio di ammetterlo!

Have the courage to admit it!

Porta l'ombrello, potrebbe piovere!

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Don’t be too Bossy!

Mastering the informal imperative in Italian is essential to communicate effectively and directly. By understanding how to correctly conjugate and use these verbs, you can engage more naturally and persuasively in Italian.

However, if you want to speak Italian like real Italian native speakers, be aware that we rarely speak in a bossy way. Always make sure you are kind, and use polite words like per favore (please) when using the imperative.

If you want to get to better understand this topic, start studying now! Learn how to give orders and instructions in Italian, embrace the grammar to enrich your language skills, and deepen your cultural immersion!

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


How do you command someone in Italian?

In English, we “ just ” use what seems to be the most basic form of the verb when giving orders or instructing others. However, from a grammatical perspective, we are using an imperative form. To give orders, commands, and instructions in Italian, use this form.

What is the informal imperative in Italian?

When speaking to someone we know well, we use an informal imperative. You should give the verb steam the various endings of -are, -ere, and -ire verbs in order to make the Italian imperative of the regular verbs.

How do you write an imperative form?

The conjugation for the pronouns tu and voi is the same as for the present tense of verbs ending in -ERE and -IRE. The conjugation for verbs ending in ARE remains the same for voi but changes for tu.

Italian word of the day
Non capivo più niente dal sonno.
I was so tired that I couldn’t think.
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