Lei desidera or Lei desideri


I cannot understand the following sentence:
Ma allora Lei desidera un caffe americano
So you want an american coffee
…If Lei is the formal word for tu, the verb desidera in present tense is tu desideri, right?
So why don't we have Ma allora Lei desideri un caffe americano?

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi chsakell,

Tu desideri is informal, so it cannot be used for talking with strangers (technically it could, but it's frowned upon by some because it's considered impolite).

Lei is the formal word for tu, but it doesn't follow the same conjugation. The one you have to use is that of the third person singular, lui/lei (he/she), which is the one ending in -a, hence Lei desidera.

Hope this helps!




Is it also true that "desidera" is a word that would commonly be used by someone serving? e.g. in a cafe, as in the example? I haven't actually come across "tu desideri" in any text so maybe it isn't very common? Would it be more common to use a less formal word like "tu vuoi"?


Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi Drew,

It depends on the formality of the situation. I definitely heard desidera more than once, and mi dica (tell me, formal) is also very common at the beginning of a conversation. I wouldn't use vuoi/voglio as it could be seen as impolite, but vuole, like desidera, it's perfectly fine. The only difference is that desidera is a tad more formal.


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