The negative formal imperative: Italian grammar lesson 207

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Summary

Master the art of politeness in Italian with our guide on the formal imperative! Learn to give commands with grace in various formal scenarios, and even how to say “Don’t!” with a touch of class. 😉

  • Respect Your Elders: Use the formal imperative when addressing someone older. It’s not just about age—it’s about showing cortesia (courtesy)!
  • Stranger Danger: Not BFFs yet? Stick to the formal imperative with strangers. It’s the Italian way of keeping things professionale (professional).
  • Formal Event: At a fancy shindig? The formal imperative is your linguistic tuxedo. Dress your verbs to impress!
  • Regular Verb Endings: Got verbs ending in –are, –ere, or –ire? Add –i, –a, or –a/isca for a touch of formality.
  • Irregulars Need Love Too: Irregular verbs like avere and essere have their own swanky endings. Remember, abbi a heart and sii kind to them!
  • Just Say “Non”: Need to negate? Slap a non in front of the formal imperative. It’s the polite way to put your foot down.
  • Pronoun Placement: Pronouns like lo and ci cozy up right before the verb. Keep them close; they’re your grammatical buddies.
  • Don’t Forget “Non” with Pronouns: Even when pronouns join the party, non still leads the conga line right before them. It’s the grammar dance of diplomacy!
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What is the formal imperative in Italian?

We use the formal imperative when we’re giving orders in the following three contexts:

  1.  To someone older
  2. To someone we don’t know very well
  3. To someone in a formal context

Let’s review the regular endings for the formal imperative:

  • Verbs in –are: -i
  • Verbs in –ere: -a
  • Verbs in –ire: -a or -isca

And now, let’s review the endings of some irregular verbs for the formal imperative:

  • Avere (to have): abbia
  • Andare (to go): vada
  • Dare (to give): dia
  • Dire (to say): dica
  • Essere (to be): sia
  • Fare(to do): faccia
  • Venire (to come): venga

If you need to review the imperative in more detail, have a look at our lesson about giving orders and instructions.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to focus on the negative formal imperative.

Let’s compare these two examples:

  • Informal

Non chiamare troppo tardi.

Don’t call too late.

  • Formal

Non chiami troppo tardi.

Don’t call too late.

Negative formal imperative italian

How to use the negative formal imperative?

As you probably noticed in the above example, making the formal imperative negative is very easy:  We just add the negative word non before the conjugated formal imperative.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Non dica niente.

Don’t say anything.

Non esageri!

Don’t exaggerate!

Non abbia paura!

Don’t be scared.

Negative formal imperative in italian

Practice with Quizlet

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

How to use the negative formal imperative with pronouns?

Have a look at the following sentence:

Lo chiami adesso.

Call him now.

Ci dica tutto.

Tell us everything.

Me li porti a casa.

Bring them to me at my house.

Lo, ci, me and li are all pronouns. They refer to either objects or people.

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If we want to make those sentences negative, again, we can just add non right before the pronoun, which goes before the formal imperative.

Non lo chiami adesso.

Don’t call him now.

Non ci dica tutto.

Don’t tell us everything.

Non me li porti a casa.

Don’t bring them to me at my house.

Here’s the structure: Non + pronoun + conjugated formal imperative.

italian negative formal imperative

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FAQs on The negative formal imperative: Italian grammar lesson 207

What is the formal imperative in Italian?

The formal imperative is for giving orders in these contexts: To someone older, to someone we don’t know very well, and to someone in a formal context.

How to use the negative formal imperative?

By adding the negative word "non" before the conjugated formal imperative.

How to use the negative formal imperative with pronouns?

By adding "non" before the pronoun followed by conjugated formal imperative.

Italian word of the day
parcheggiato
Example
Vorrei proprio sapere chi ha parcheggiato qui!
I’d really like to know who parked here!
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