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Italian Language/use of the "imperative"

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Question
Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if the following sentence (that I wrote in my recent thank you note to you) is correct, or if I should have written something else:

“Ancora una volta, per favore sappia che apprezzo moltissimo il tuo aiuto.”
Once again, please know that I very much appreciate your help.

I am especially wondering about the use of the verb form – “sappia” in this sentence.  I used the 3rd person singular - “Lei” form (sappia) in this sentence, but I am not completely sure if the 2nd person singular “tu” form (sappi) would have been more appropriate.

Would you please help me to understand the rationale that must be used in order to choose the correct verb form in this sentence.  

The choice between these two verb forms is always very confusing to me because it involves both the important difference between the “formal you” and the “familiar you” as well as the important difference between a “command” and a “suggestion”.  I just do not know how to reconcile these important differences at the same time when using the “imperative”.

It seems that sometimes the difference between “formal” and “familiar” is the deciding factor in whether to use the 2nd or 3rd person in the “imperative”, and at other times the difference between a “command” and a “suggestion” is the deciding factor in whether to use the 2nd or 3rd person in the “imperative”.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

actually you should have said: “Sappi che ancora una volta apprezzo moltissimo il tuo aiuto” where you should have used  “sappi” , i.e.  the 2nd.person singular, present imperative of “sapere”, since the 2nd person singular “tu” form (sappi) would have been more appropriate, just because you are on first name terms with me and you have used the possessive adjective “tuo” in “il tuo aiuto”.

So, if you had written :”Sappia che ancora una volta apprezzo moltissimo il suo aiuto”, you would have used the “formal you”, i.e. the the 3rd person singular - “Lei” form in Italian- and thus you would have used the 3r.person possessive adjective  “suo” instead of “tuo” that you have used in “Sappi che ancora una volta apprezzo moltissimo il tuo aiuto” .

In short, you must use the 2nd person singular “tu” form (sappi) when you are addressing to a person you are familiar with, and the the 3rd person singular - “Lei” form (sappia)-, when you are addressing to a person you are not familiar with.

Moreover, you must use the possessive adjective “tuo” in a sentence as well as other 2nd.person singular forms, when you are addressing to a person you are familiar with, and “suo” as well as other 3rd.person singular forms, when you are  addressing to a person you are not familiar with.
See for example:
-“Sappi che ti aiuterò” (where “sappi” and “ti” refer to the “familiar you”)
-“Sappia che l’aiuterò”(where “sappia” and “la” refer to the “formal you”)
-“Vieni a casa mia e porta pure il tuo amico” (where “vieni”, “porta”  and “tuoi” refer to the “familiar you”)
-“Venga a casa mia e porti pure il suo amico” (where “venga”, “porti”  and “suo” refer to the “formal you”)

As for the difference between a “command” and a “suggestion”, please note that both the 2nd.person singular and the 3rd.person singular of the present imperative can have the sense of a “command” or  a “suggestion”, according to the verb that we  are using.
For example “Vai a casa!” and “Vada a casa!”  sound as a  command, whereas “Sappi che ti aiuterò” and “Sappia che l’aiuterò” sound as a “suggestion”.

Lastly, you are correct in thinking that it seems that sometimes the difference between “formal” and “familiar” is the deciding factor in whether to use the 2nd or 3rd person in the “imperative”, and at other times it is the verb that is the deciding factor in whether to have a “command” or a “suggestion” .

Best regards,

Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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