The Imperative in Italian: It’s All About Direct Communication


The imperative mood in Italian is crucial for effective communication, as it directly conveys commands, requests, or suggestions. Whether you’re asking someone to pass the salt or instructing them to wait a moment, the imperative is the go-to structure.

It plays a crucial role in everyday communication, reflecting the cultural nuances and social dynamics inherent in Italian society. Understanding the use of the Italian imperative requires insight into its forms, structures, and social implications.

The imperative mood in Italian is primarily used to convey commands, requests, suggestions, or advice. Unlike other moods, such as the indicative or subjunctive, which express statements or hypothetical situations, the imperative directly addresses the listener, urging them to take action or follow a specific instruction. It is commonly employed in informal and formal contexts, depending on the relationship between the speaker and the listener, as well as the level of politeness or familiarity required.

The imperative is conjugated differently depending on whether the command is directed towards tu (you, singular informal), voi (you, plural informal), Lei (you, singular formal), or Loro (you, plural formal). For regular verbs, the imperative forms are typically derived from the present indicative forms, with slight variations in the conjugation patterns. Irregular verbs, however, may have unique imperative forms that do not follow the regular conjugation rules.

One of the distinctive features of the Italian imperative is the omission of the subject pronoun when addressing tu or voi. Unlike English, where subject pronouns are usually included for clarity (e.g., “You, close the door”), Italian often drops the subject pronoun and relies solely on the verb form to indicate the subject (e.g., “Chiudi la porta” – “Close the door”). This omission streamlines communication and adds a sense of directness to the command.


Let’s explore how the imperative works in Italian:

Basic Structure

In its most straightforward form, the imperative in Italian involves dropping the subject pronoun and using the verb in its imperative form:

Mangia!  (Eat!)

Ascolta! (Listen!)

Parla più lentamente!   (Speak more slowly!)

Special Cases and Irregular Verbs

While constructing the imperative is relatively simple for regular verbs, irregular verbs require specific forms. For instance: the imperative form of the verb “essere” (to be) in Italian is irregular and varies depending on the subject pronoun it refers to. Here are the imperative forms of “essere” for the different subjects:

Tu (you, singular informal): sii (be)

Lei (you, singular formal): sia (be)

Voi (you, plural informal): siate (be)

– Loro (you, plural formal): siano (be)

The imperative form of the verb “avere” (to have) in Italian is irregular as well and varies depending on the subject pronoun it refers to. Here are the imperative forms of “avere” for the different subjects:

Tu (you, singular informal): abbi (have)

Lei (you, singular formal): abbia (have)

Voi (you, plural informal): abbiate (have)

Loro (you, plural formal): abbiano (have)


The imperative form of the verb “dire” (to say) in Italian is:

Tu: Di’ (say)

– Lei/lui: Dica (say)

– Noi: Diciamo (let’s say)

– Voi: Dite (say)

– Loro: Dicano (say)

These imperative forms are used to give commands, make requests, or offer suggestions related to having or possession in Italian.

Cultural tip

In standard Italian, the imperative form for “loro” (they) for instance “dicano” (say) is used in written and formal contexts across Italy.

However, in informal spoken Italian, the imperative “loro” is rarely used. Instead, the verb is often dropped entirely, and the context implies the subject. This is more common in Northern and Central Italy, where the use of the imperative “loro” is less prevalent in everyday speech. In Southern Italy and some other regions, it might be more customary to use the “loro” form in informal speech.

it’s essential to note that language usage can vary widely among individuals and communities, and the linguistic landscape is continually evolving.


Formal vs. Informal Imperatives

The imperative also differentiates between formal and informal commands. In formal situations, particularly when addressing strangers, authority figures, or elders, Italians often use the polite form:

Mi scusi! (Excuse me!)

Mi aiuti, per favore! (Could you help me, please?)

In contrast, informal imperatives are used among friends, family, or in casual settings:

Vieni qui! (Come here!)

Fermati un attimo! (Stop for a moment!).

The Imperative in Italian Culture

In addition to its grammatical functions, the Italian imperative also serves as a reflection of cultural values and social norms. It embodies the importance of respect, politeness, and hierarchy within Italian society, where interpersonal relationships are often governed by subtle nuances of language and behavior. Mastery of the imperative involves not only understanding its grammatical rules but also navigating the intricate dynamics of social interaction and communication.

Beyond its practical applications, the Italian imperative also plays a significant role in literature, film, and other forms of artistic expression. Through dialogue and narrative, writers and filmmakers often utilize the imperative to convey emotion, tension, or urgency within their works. Whether in poetry, prose, or cinematic scenes, the imperative serves as a powerful linguistic tool for capturing the essence of human experience and interaction.

Moreover, the Italian imperative extends beyond mere commands or instructions; it embodies a sense of authority, agency, and empowerment. By using the imperative mood, speakers assert their will, assertiveness, and assertiveness, asserting their ability to influence others and shape the course of events. Whether issuing a call to action, offering guidance, or expressing a heartfelt plea, the imperative enables individuals to assert their presence and make their voices heard.


The Italian imperative is a versatile linguistic tool that embodies the richness and complexity of the Italian language and culture. From its grammatical forms to its social implications, the imperative reflects the nuances of interpersonal communication and the values that shape Italian society. Whether used in everyday conversation, literature, or artistic expression, the imperative remains an essential element of the Italian linguistic landscape, uniting speakers in a shared understanding of language, identity, and human connection.

Whether you’re ordering a gelato in Rome or asking for directions in Florence, grasping the nuances of the imperative in Italian enhances your linguistic repertoire and cultural understanding. So, practice those imperatives—they’re the key to direct communication in Italian!


Learning Italian imperative with “The Mindful Italian Experience”

The Mindful Italian experience offers a unique and immersive approach to learning the imperative in Italian, integrating mindfulness practices with language acquisition to enhance comprehension and retention. By combining mindfulness techniques with language learning, participants can develop a deeper understanding of the imperative mood while fostering a sense of presence, focus, and awareness.

Through guided meditation and mindfulness exercises, learners can cultivate a receptive mindset, enabling them to engage more fully with the nuances of Italian grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, including the imperative mood. Mindfulness encourages learners to approach language learning with curiosity, openness, and non-judgment, allowing them to explore the intricacies of the imperative mood without fear of making mistakes.

The Mindful Italian experience provides learners with opportunities to practice forming imperative sentences in a supportive and encouraging environment. Through interactive activities, group discussions, and role-playing scenarios, participants can experiment with different imperative forms and contexts, gaining confidence and fluency in their command of the language.

Furthermore, mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, body scans, and guided visualization can help learners manage stress, anxiety, and frustration often associated with language learning. By cultivating a calm and centred state of mind, participants can approach the challenges of mastering the imperative mood with patience, resilience, and self-awareness.

The Mindful Italian experience also emphasizes the importance of mindful communication, encouraging learners to consider the impact of their words and intentions when using the imperative in Italian. Through mindful listening and empathy-building exercises, participants can develop a deeper appreciation for the social dynamics and cultural nuances inherent in Italian language and communication.

In summary, The Mindful Italian experience offers a holistic and transformative approach to learning the imperative in Italian, blending language acquisition with mindfulness practices to promote personal growth, linguistic proficiency, and cultural understanding. By fostering mindfulness and self-awareness, participants can unlock new pathways to language learning, empowering them to communicate with clarity, confidence, and compassion in Italian.

Start transforming your Italian Learning Experience now with “The Mindful Italian Experience”, click here to access your first video lesson, meditation and workbook.

What our learners say:

“I cannot recommend The Mindful Italian Experience highly enough! I have been learning for two months, and I have already learned some key verbs and basic grammar and am able to speak some short sentences. Most importantly, I am building my confidence! The combination of the short meditations with the weekly video tutorials and workbooks is a really effective way to learn the building blocks, while removing any language anxiety.”

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“I had the opportunity to participate in the “Mindful Italian Experience” – what a great program! The lessons are clear and focused, the interactions between Raffaella and Vicki are casual and use language that is valuable in everyday conversations. My favorite part of the program was the meditations. It allowed me view language learning in a different light and I really did go into my lessons with a different attitude. Thanks, Raffaella & Nicole!”

Jennifer Philadelphia PA USA