Just like in English, the imperative mood in Italian is used to give orders, advice or to urge someone. It is also used to give permission, offer something, give instructions etc.
Because of the purpose and the essence of the imperative (giving advice or orders), this mood doesn’t exist for the first person singular (io), the third person singular (lui, lei) and the third person plural (loro).
The imperative has only one tense, the present, and has the same form as the indicative present, with one exception: for all regular verbs of the first conjugation (ARE), the second person singular ends with an -a.
The same rule applies to all irregular verbs that follow an irregular pattern in the indicative present, although the irregular verb of the first conjugation don’t take the -a in the second person singular.
NOTE: The imperative doesn’t apply to the modal verbs (verbi servili) like potere (can), dovere (must) and volere (want), due to their meaning. In fact, you would never give an order like ‘can!’ or ‘want!’.
Here’s some examples which clarify the use of the imperative mood in Italian:
Finisci i compiti prima di uscire!
Finish your homework before you go out!
Vai subito a casa!
Go home immediately!
Prendi ancora un po’ di torta!
Have some more cake!
Vai sempre dritto e poi gira a destra.
Keep going straight and then turn right.
Imperative in the negative form
When using the Italian imperative mood in a negative sentence, with the second person singular (tu) you need to use non + the infinitive of the verb:
Non cambiare discorso!
Don’t change subject!
For the second person plural (voi), just use non + the second person plural of the present indicative.
Non andate a quella festa!
Don’t go to that party!
Imperative with reflexive verbs
The Italian imperative mood with reflexive verbs follow the same rule as the other verbs, with the only difference that you need to keep the reflexive pronoun and attach it to the end of the verb:
Don’t get up!
Irregular forms of imperative
Imperative and position of pronouns
When using direct and indirect pronouns, it’s important to know their position in a sentence in the imperative mood.
When using CI and NE, for example, you should attach these pronouns to the end of the verb in the second person singular (tu) and plural (voi):
Take some (of it)!
Let’s go (there)!
In the event of a double pronoun (direct + indirect) in the same sentence, generally speaking CI or indirect pronouns precede NE or direct pronouns:
Talk to him about it!