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I know that both "ti raccomando" and "mi raccomando" are used with the sense of "I recommend you", but to me, coming from outside, the use of the "mi" form seems illogical and should be translated as "I recommend to myself" (so if I need to recommend something to me, I don't need to speak to another person, I can just have a nice monologue in my head :) . So my questions are: is the "mi" form correct and it was born from a grammatical mistake gone mainstream or is something more subtle that I, as a foreigner, don't catch?

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Please note that "mi raccomando" and "ti raccomando" have slightly different meanings, following that both the Italian "raccomandare" and the English "to recommend" come from "to entrust" in Latin.

  • "Ti raccomando" is used when you're just suggesting a course of action: "Ti raccomando di prendere l'ombrello prima di uscire" (although "ti consiglio" is more common now); if your listener doesn't grab an umbrella, bad for him, you warned him;

  • "Mi raccomando" is used when you have something at heart, and you pledge the listener to follow your advice ("please trust me"). "Mi raccomando, prendi l'ombrello prima di uscire!"; if your listener doesn't grab an umbrella, the poor lad might get wet and catch a cold.

So a parent will most often say "mi raccomando" to a child, while a sign will read "si raccomanda" (e.g. "si raccomanda ai viaggiatori di non lasciare i bagagli incustoditi".
It would take a scorned parent to say "ti raccomando" ("do what you please, but don't come back crying if you don't follow my advice and things turn out for the worse").
On the other side it would be weird to have a sign read "mi raccomando, state attenti ai bagagli", because signs are impersonal. You can't really feel somebody being sorry about your stolen luggage "on the other side" of the sign.

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The unusual reflexive construction of raccomandare is explained by its original meaning of raccomandare as “entrust”. So one could raccomandare qualcuno (o la propria anima, o sé stesso) a qualcun altro, a Dio etc. The phrase mi raccomando (especially a Dio) became fixed – and its original meaning forgotten – to mean little more than “please”, just like in English such phrases as “pray” (as in “and what, pray, was the purpose of that?”).

The ti raccomando construction is somewhat more transparently connected to the original meaning of “to entrust, to commend”.

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In current language the valid form (And the only one i've ever heard) is certainly "mi raccomando" like in this sentence:

"Mi raccomando, fai attenzione" or "Fai attenzione, mi raccomando!" or "Mi raccomando," + {Do something}

While "ti raccomando" is limited to the use:

"Ti raccomando questa persona" "Ti raccomando di usare questa marca"

which is used to give an advice about something or someone that "you" should use, based on "my" experience.

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Can you please explain me, why it doesn't follow the rule of ex "ti ascolto, ti guardo, ti capisco, ti aspetto"? It seems to me that the action should be directed to the other person - I recommend "you". Or is it "mi" used instead of "io", like "I"...recommend. Thank you. –  symbiotech Dec 16 '13 at 15:50
    
"Mi raccomando [...]" means "Io raccomando a te [...]" it's like a shortcut :) I'm sorry but you'll often find exception in rules of Italian language :) –  Luca Vitucci Dec 16 '13 at 16:28
    
And what's the meaning of "ti raccomando questo detersivo"? What's the difference? –  symbiotech Dec 16 '13 at 16:33
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