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Polite form of Scusi


Why is 'scusi' the polite form and not 'scusa'? In Taxi lesson. Since it is an "ARE" verb, wouldn't the polite form be the 3rd person "scusa"?


Hi ChristopherS55, 
Thank you for your question!

As you might know, in Italian, when we need to be more formal/polite, we often use the third person "Lei/Lui" that equals the formal You, in this case.

In this specific context (when you need to apologize to someone), you would use the imperative mood of the verb, rather than the present tense. Consequently, the term "scusa" refers to the second person (you) while "scusi" refers to the third person (or formal You).

Let me explain this better:
The verb "scusare" conjugates as "tu scusi" and "lei/lui scusa" in the present tense. For instance lei mi scusa quando arrivo tardi = she excuses me when I am late.
However, if you wish to say "excuse me, where is the station?" you are no longer using the present tense, but rather the imperative mood. Consequently, it will be "tu scusa" and "lei/lui scusi", as in:
(informal you) scusa, hai dei soldi? = excuse me, do you have any money?
(formal You) scusi, sono arrivato tardi = excuse me, I arrived late. 

Hope this clarifies your doubt but I remain available in case you would like to have more examples :)

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