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QUESTION: hi maria,

im an american and have a pretty good understanding of italian and latin (nearly fluent) due to studying diligently on my own. but occasionally i make mistakes or am confused in italian.

e.g., how do i form the vocative case in italian? do i simply drop the -re part of the infinitive?

tia

ANSWER: Hello,

actually in Italian the vocative case, which is used when we are talking to somebody directly, does not need to be formed, because it does not change its ending, unless it is in a different gender (masculine/feminine) or number (singular/plural).

For example, we say:

-“Come stai, carissimo?”   or  “Come stai, carissima?“; “Come state, carissimi?” or “Come state, carissime?”, where the masculine singular/plural  “carissimo”/”carissimi” and the feminine singular/plural  “carissima” /”carissime” are in the vocative case with the final vowel “-o”/”-i “ and “-a” /”-e” simply because of the different gender  and number, just like in “Tacete, ragazzi!” or “Tacete, ragazze!”, etc.

-“Ma cosa stai facendo ora, Giovanni?”; “Ti prego, Stefano, aiutami!”; “Ubbidisci, Antonio!”, etc. where the names remains the same, obviously.

-“Mio Dio, ti prego di aiutarmi!”; “O Dio, proteggimi!”; etc. where the vocative “ Dio”  does not change the ending and sometimes can be preceded by the exclamation “o”.
See also “La saluto, Eccellenza” when we are addressing to someone in an important official position, such as an ambassador, or “Mi benedica, Eminenza!” when we are addressing to a bishop or a cardinal and we are using the common noun "eccellenza" or "eminenza" without any change in comparison with the following sentences "Sua Eccellenza l'ambasciatore  entrň nel salone" or " Sua eminenza il cardinale salutň i presenti" where "eccellenza" and "eminenza" are not in the vocative, but are the subject (nominative case)  of the sentences.

-“Mi rivolgo a Lei, avvocato, perché mi rappresenti in tribunale” where the common noun “avvocato” remains the same as in e.g. “Mi sono rivolta ad un avvocato per farmi rappresentare in tribunale”.


To sum up, the vocative case in Italian has nothing to do with Latin and its declensions (See for example “Domine”= "O Lord” where “Domine” is the vocative case of “Dominus”, 2nd declension) and then the Italian vocative changes its ending only in the singular/ plural/ masculine /feminine. Otherwise it has no change.


As for your question “do I simply drop the “-re” part of the infinitive?”, it has nothing to do with the vocative case, but it refers to the imperative mood in Latin where the imperative of each conjugation is formed by dropping the “-re” part of the infinitive, so that “Ama” is the imperative, 2nd person singular, of the infinitive “amare”, 1st conjugation;  “Mone” is the imperative, 2nd person singular, of the infinitive “monēre”, 2nd conjugation; “Lege” is the imperative, 2nd person singular, of the infinitive “legĕre”, 3rd conjugation; “Audi” is the imperative, 2nd person singular, of the infinitive “audire”, 4th conjugation.

On the contrary in Italian we have three conjugations that end in "–are” such as “mangiare”, in “-ere” such as “leggere”, in  “-ire” such as “finire”, and their imperatives, 2nd person singular, are ”Mangia”, “Leggi” and “Finisci” where only “Mangia” is formed by dropping “-re” part of the infinitive, whereas “Leggi” and “Finisci” do not derive immediately from  the infinitives “leggere” and “finire”.

Hope all is clear enough. Feel free however to ask me again.

Best regards,

Maria


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

QUESTION: Thanks Maria. Your mastery of Italian and Latin are #1!!! Grazie!

I have just one more question. re:

"On the contrary in Italian we have three conjugations that end in "–are” such as “mangiare”, in “-ere” such as “leggere”, in  “-ire” such as “finire”, and their imperatives, 2nd person singular, are ”Mangia”, “Leggi” and “Finisci” where only “Mangia” is formed by dropping “-re” part of the infinitive, whereas “Leggi” and “Finisci” do not derive immediately from  the infinitives “leggere” and “finire”."

in italian, How do i know which verbs have imperatives ending in "i"? are u saying that with the exception of mangia, all verbs in the vocative end in "i"? I am trying to draw a parallel with spanish. do u know how i can form infinitives in spanish?

btw: i studied latin for 4 years in h.s. although ive graduated long since. i know agi/agite, molesta/molestate, etc.

Answer
Hello,

the three conjugations of regular Italian verbs, i.e. the 1st conjugation which ends in “–are” in the infinitive (see “mangiare”), the 2nd conjugation which ends in “–ere”  in the infinitive (see “leggere”), the 3rd conjugation which ends in “–ire” in the infinitive (see “partire”), form their imperatives as follows:

-“mangia” (2nd person singular, addressing to only one person); “mangiate” (2nd person plural, addressing to many persons).
In this 1st conjugation of a regular verb you must drop the “-re” part of the infinitive “mangiare” to form the 2nd person singular.
See also: “loda” from “lodare”, “ama” from “amare”, etc.


-“leggi”(2nd person singular, addressing to only one person); “leggete” (2nd person plural, addressing to many persons).
In this 2nd conjugation of a regular verb you must drop the “-ere” part of the infinitive “leggere” to form the 2nd person singular  by adding  the “-i” ending.
See also:”temi” from “temere”; “ricevi” from “ricevere”, etc.


-“parti” (2nd person singular, addressing to only one person); “partite” (2nd person plural, addressing to many persons).
In this 3rd conjugation of a regular verb you must drop the “-re” part of the infinitive “partire” to form the 2nd person singular.
In this 3rd conjugation there are however some verbs like “finire”, “obbedire”, "gioire", "custodire",etc.  that use the suffix “-sc-“ between the stem and the ending in the 2nd person singular of the imperative, so that their imperative  is  for example “finisci”,“obbedisci”, "gioisci", "custodisci".

So, as you can see,  you must follow the above- mentioned rules  to know which regular Italian verbs have imperatives ending in “a” or  in "i"  in  the 2nd person singular of the present imperative.

Anyway, please note that in Italian we have many irregular verbs such as e.g.  “andare”, “dare”, “stare”, “venire”, etc. that you should learn to know their conjugation.

Also, I have to tell you that you cannot use the term “vocative” to indicate an imperative, simply because the “vocative” is a noun case  which has nothing to do with the verbs as it  expresses the relation of a noun to other words in a sentence, as you can see in my previous answer.

As for what you say about your attempt  to draw a parallel with Spanish, I cannot help you for I do not know Spanish.

Lastly, with regard to Latin which is one of my fields of expertise, please note that  ”agi” as the 2nd person singular  of the present imperative of “agĕre” is wrong for the correct form is “age”, while the 2nd person plural “agite” is correct.

Have a nice day,
Maria
______________________________________________________________________________
For Italian verbs see at:
http://www.italian-verbs.com/verbi-italiani.php

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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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