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Italian Language/answering machine message


QUESTION: Dear Lauren,

I am reading a novel that takes place in Italy.  In one part of this book, the author describes the message on a telephone answering machine as:

“Lasciatemi un messaggio e vi richiameṛ.”
(Leave me a message and I will call you back)

I was wondering why the plural form of the imperative “lasciate” and the plural direct object pronoun “vi” are used in this message.

Can you please tell me if the use of the plural “you” on telephone answering machines is the custom in Italy. I am wondering if this was a mistake in the book.  

I would have thought that a message should be left in the singular as in:

“Lasciami un messaggio e ti richiameṛ.”
(Leave me a message and I will call you back)

Thank you.



ANSWER: Hi Rich,

Thanks for your message. Although it would be perfectly correct to say 'lasciami un messaggio', it also fine to use the plural 'lasciatemi' as well. This is because the person in question is expecting to receive messages from several people at different times rather than just one message from one person. Therefore, this is seen as a polite way of addressing the numerous people that could potentially phone and leave a message.

Also, this polite form is used as the person calling may be unknown and calling from a company or other formal entity. Thus to continue the politeness that one would expect when talking to strangers, this is anticipated with the recorded message using voi.

Hope this help,
Kind regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Lauren,  

Thank you very much for your help with this question.

Just to make sure I understand:   would you please verify that “lasciare” is being used in the imperative in this example.

If this is correct -  would not “lasciami” be the tu form of the imperative which is used for  informal/familiar (not polite)?

Thank you.



Hi Rich,

Lasciare is being used in the imperative in this case and yes, 'lasciami' is the tu form of the imperative. As I said in my previous post, although using 'lasciami' is not incorrect, it would be the personal choice of the user whether to use it or not as their phone message. I suppose it would depend on how formal/informal they want to be. In a formal case, this would simply be 'mi lasci'

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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Awards and Honors
Letter of recognition from the Italian consulate MA Applied Linguistics BA Hons Modern Language Studies CELTA qualified C1 CILS C2 DELE

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