How to speak formal Italian.



I'm a bit confused on how to speak in formal Italian to a stranger or when being respectful, but think I may have worked it out.

So what I noticed is that all you need to do when you speak to someone (or a group of people), is to refer to them in the 3rd person singular feminine form, regardless of the gender, or how many people you are speaking to. Is my assumption correct or is it not that easy? Are there other rules I should know?

For example: The formal way to say "you go by bus" is  "Lei va in autobus" and "you wait here for the bus" is "Lei aspetta qui per l'autobus"



Hi Mark, 
Thanks for your question!
When you speak to another person (singular), you simply use the third person singular feminine form as you correctly stated.
Therefore, we will have:
How are you? = Come sta? / instead of / Come stai?
What do you think about it? = Lei che ne pensa?  / instead of / Tu che ne pensi?
I am taking your order. = Sto prendendo il suo ordine.  / instead of / Sto prendendo il tuo ordine.

When speaking to a group of people, nothing will change in terms of the person used as it will still be the 2nd person plural, as in:
How are you? = Come state? 
What do you think about it? =  Voi che ne pensate?
I am taking your order. = Sto prendendo il vistro ordine. 

A formal language is also characterized by a specific terminology (e.g. you would say "Salve" instead of "Ciao", you would address someone as "Signora" or "Signore" and so on).

Hope this helps concerning the use of pronouns, please feel free to ask for further details and I will be happy to be more specific :)



Hi Caterina,
Thanks for your explanation. Yes it makes sense now that you refer to a group of people in 3rd person plural form.

But what if I'm referring to myself in formal Italian.
For example, informally would I say "Mi chiamo Mark", so would that change to "Mi Chiama Mark"? 
Also what about "io lavoro troppo", would that be "Mi lavora troppo" and "tu lavori troppo" would be "Ti lavora troppo"?


Hi Mark, 

In Italian, you wouldn't refer to yourself formally. Formal language really applies only to the second singular person (formal You) as explained above.
When speaking formally, you would still say "Mi chiamo Mark" and "Lavoro troppo".
Nothing changes...easy, isn't it? :) 

Ask a question or post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here.
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket Italian trial here.