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I was solving an Italian exercise about the Imperative with pronouns.

The exercise was giving wrong sentences to correct. I had a problem with the following two:

  • Non vi piace la birra? Allora non la ordinate, prendete l'acqua!
  • Non ti fai la doccia, vestiti e usciamo, è tardissimo!

I initially translated like this:

  • Non vi piace la birra? Allora non la ordinare, prendete l'acqua!
  • Non ti fare la doccia, vestiti e usciamo, è tardissimo!

I did it like this because I learned that "In the negative form, the pronouns can either precede the verb or merge with it at the end."

However, the only accepted correction was:

  • Non vi piace la birra? Allora non ordinatela, prendete l'acqua!
  • Non farti la doccia, vestiti e usciamo, è tardissimo!

Would both options be correct or is there a problem with my first attempt?

Thank you!

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    Regardless of the pronoun question, "non ordinare" in your first sentence doesn't fit because it's singular.
    – DonHolgo
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 13:47

1 Answer 1

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It's quite peculiar, but the negative imperative for the second person singular is made with the infinitive:

Ordina una birra (Buy a beer)

Non ordinare birra (Don't buy beer)

This doesn't happen for the second person plural

Ordinate una birra

Non ordinate birra

(In English it would be ambiguous, but that's a different problem.)

So you cannot use the infinitive, because the subject is plural.

However, I see nothing wrong in “non la ordinate” instead of “non ordinatela”: the enclitic positioning of the pronoun is optional. Perhaps the second form is more common, that's all.

Similarly for the shower, but probably in this case “non farti” would be far more common than “non ti fare”; regional differences due to local languages may influence the choice.

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    I agree on almost everything, and add that non ti fare sounds to me perfectly normal.
    – DaG
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 13:05
  • I agree too and add that non la ordinate is perhaps more familiar to me than non ordinatela, that looks a little akward, too long to pronounce. I think that considering wrong the positioning of the pronoun before the noun is an outdated grammar rule, they said me that when (many years ago) I was at school, but now it is allowed. Commented May 13, 2023 at 14:37
  • From the point of view of a learner, "always use clitic pronouns with the imperative" is an easier rule to remember than "clitic pronouns are mandatory with the positive imperative and optional with the negative imperative". So maybe that book teaches this simplified rule, and gives answers to the exercises based on it. without bothering to add alternative correct versions. Commented May 13, 2023 at 17:09

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