Imperative Mood in Italian: Giving Instructions and Orders [Grammar Notes]

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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.

  • Know when to command: Use the imperative in Italian to give orders, commands, or instructions. Perfect for when you need to be direct – like telling someone to “Apri la finestra!” (Open the window!).
  • Conjugation quirks: While English keeps it simple, Italian likes to mix things up. For -ERE and -IRE verbs, the tu and voi forms match the present tense, but -ARE verbs? Not so much.
  • Special treatment for tu: If you’re chatting with a friend and using tu, remember that -ARE verbs need an ‘A’ at the end. So, “Eat!” isn’t just “Mangi!” but “Mangia!”
  • Group commands and formal requests: When rallying the troops with noi or being polite with lei, switch gears to the present subjunctive. “Let’s start!” becomes “Iniziamo!” and “Come here, please” turns into “Venga qui, per favore.”
  • Irregular verbs, regular headaches: Just when you think you’ve got it, irregular verbs come to crash the party. Memorize these oddballs like “Sii” for “Be!” and “Abbi” for “Have!” to avoid slip-ups.
  • Practice makes perfect: Drill these forms into your brain with real-life scenarios. Tell your dog “Vieni qui!” (Come here!) or instruct your friends “Andate via!” (Go away!) – just maybe not too often. 😉

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

Giving Instructions and Orders in Italian

In English, when we give an order or we tell someone to do something, we simply use what seems to be the basic form of the verb.

However, from a grammatical point of view we are using an imperative form. This form is used to give orders, commands, and instructions in Italian.

Apri la finestra!

Open the window!

Mangia la pasta!

Eat the pasta!

Unlike English, Italian has its own conjugation for the imperative of verbs, which is not always the same as the simple present.

When to use the Imperative Mood in Italian

Before looking at the conjugation, let’s understand when we can use this form in Italian.

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

  • Command:

Fiocco, vieni qui!

Fiocco, come here!

  • Instruction:

Aprite il libro e cominciate a leggere.

Open the book and start reading.

In Italian, the imperative can be used with the pronouns tu, voi, noi, and lei (formal you).

Italian imperative mood conjugation

For the pronouns tu and voi, the conjugation is the same as the present tense for the verbs ending in –ERE and –IRE.

For verbs in ARE, the conjugation for voi is the same as the present, while it changes for tu.

In this case, we use the root of the verb + A.

Verb TU VOI
APRIRE apri aprite
CORRERE corri correte
MANGIARE mangia mangiate

On the other hand, to form an imperative for the pronouns noi and lei (formal you) we will use the congiuntivo presente (present subjunctive).

Iniziamo!

Let’s start!

Venga da questa parte, per favore.

Come this way, please.

The imperative: Irregular verbs

As you were probably expecting, the 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.

Verb TU VOI
ESSERE Sii Siate
AVERE Abbi Abbiate
SAPERE Sappi Sappiate
DARE Da’ / Dai Date
FARE Fa’ / Fai Fate
STARE Sta’ / Stai State
ANDARE Va’ / Vai Andate
DIRE Di’ Dite

Examples of the Italian imperative mood

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How to Learn Languages Fast

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!

Practice with Quizlet

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

Speak Italian like a boss with the imperative mood

The imperative of a verb can be used to give commands, orders, or instructions.

In contrast to English and other languages, the imperative conjugation of verbs in Italian is not necessarily the same as the simple present.

It can be used with the pronouns tu, voi, noi, and lei (formal you).

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
l’influenza
Example
Hai la febbre! Sì, mi è venuta l’influenza.
You have a fever! Yes, I got influenza.
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